LOCATION: PROVERBIAL FANCY RESTAURANT IN CHICAGO
CAST: MIDWESTERN MAN AND WOMAN
This Kansas yokel is sweating bullets. His clothes are 10 degrees off of a proper fit and the stray stalk of wheat hanging from his mouth is growing limp. Three choices of water are presented, so he asks for familiar well water. He checks the wheat behind his ear.
Presented with further menus, he begins to understand that they only serve bottles of wine. But wait! He remembers some collegiate texts about pagination being the realm of the aristocracy. Flipping further back on the clipboard drink list, he finds a dusty pilsner. Which arrives in a comically large beer stein. Oops.
Enter entree. Füd. He squeaks out something about lemon pasta. His hands, clammy – could he have ordered clams? He looks around for guidance, but everyone friendly has left the restaurant, the neighborhood and the city. The lighting levels are to the point that he’s not sure if he’s eating garnish or his own hair, falling out in clumps.
His date is doing a much better job at this charade, but not enough to prevent an outburst from the idiot. A fistful of silverware meets plate meets glass meets glare from everyone and so on. Each noise bolts him from his seat to bow in apology. Each bow sloshes drink onto the table and floor.
He slurps down a fistful of noodles and empties the toy beer stein. Work lights suddenly crank up in concert with the roar of a leaf blower. Blinded and deafened, damned and defeated. His napkin flies off the lap and hair comes unparted, while the leaf blower operator tries to get under his right foot where he’s keeping a crust of complimentary bread.
The marked couple flees to the “library bar.” No books. Didn’t get memo about black dress. He’s sporting a colored shirt, the only color in the whole hotel. He orders rye whiskey neat, then waffles after googling his doubt. “Throw some water on it, sir!” His voice is so pure and high.
Everyone is screaming happy birthday. A couple is dancing in front of a fireplace. He’s tugging at his Target sweater, trying to lose it and shove it in the flames. He’s got to keep the fun alive.