Saturday, May 22, 2010

Blame the Mexicans

Ladies and gentlemen, our American way of life is under attack by the flood of immigrants entering our country both legally and illegally from Mexico. These non-Americans are polluting our precious culture with their tacos and their piƱatas. These trifling efforts to destroy America will fail, of course. But there is a more insidious threat. If it is allowed to take root, it will rip out the very soul of the American working man. They’re stealing our beer.

On Mother’s Day weekend – a sacred holiday as American as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, we went out with another family for a combined birthday celebration for their son and our daughter. It was a hot, sultry day, and everyone was ravenous, so we went to Outback Steakhouse (a fine American institution that doesn’t serve tacos).

Because it was Mother’s Day weekend, the place was packed. They told us it would be a 45-minute wait, and herded us into a stuffy little alcove. Before long, we realized the air-conditioning in the restaurant had failed, and so we sweated and tried to make pleasant conversation. The restaurant had set up fans, but they were directed at the diners, not those who were waiting.


Within minutes, I realized there was no way I was going to make it without a cold drink, so I called a waitress over and asked for a tall mug of draft beer. “I’m sorry, sir,” she apologized. “We’re all out of draft beer.”

I sat in stunned silence for about 30 seconds. Out of beer? No air-conditioning? On Saturday night? On the busiest weekend of the year? How was this possible? And they’re charging full price for dinner?

Taking charge of the situation, I ordered everyone out of the restaurant. “There’s a Macaroni Grill just a mile from here,” I told them. So we piled into our cars and drove away.

Macaroni Grill told us it would be a 30-minute wait, and they had air-conditioning, so already we were ahead of the game. I hurried over to the bar and asked if they had draft beer. “Yes, sir,” the bartender told me. “We have Peroni and Amber Bock, but we’re out of Peroni.”

Once again, I was dumbfounded. But I was desperate, so I ordered an Amber Bock. She poured it for me, and while I was signing the credit card receipt, another patron ordered an Amber Bock. She went over to the tap, pulled it forward, and FWISSSSHHHhhh!! No more Amber Bock. I was forced to drink bottled beer for the rest of the evening.

Eventually, we were seated and had a very pleasant meal, except for an incident involving one of my wife’s friends. The waitress handed her a menu, and after she left, my wife’s friend squinted at it for a bit and then and declared, “I can’t read this, the type is too small.” She then looked around the table, expecting someone to read the menu to her. Eventually, someone did, but it wasn’t me. I was biting my lip, trying not to say something like, “Wow! If you had only known that they would give you a menu, you might have brought your glasses with you. I guess they really threw you a curve ball, huh?”

I was very amused later in the evening when I discovered this basket of reading glasses on the hostess station, placed there for the convenience of older people with vision problems and memory problems.


At the end of the meal, one of the waitresses came over with a small cake, announced that she was an opera voice student at a local university, and would sing “Happy Birthday” in Italian. She proceeded to deliver the song in full opera voice, but without the metal breast cups.


Later, I asked our waitress about the beer situation that had plagued us that evening. She told me that all of the restaurants are running out of beer, because Cinco de Mayo (which took place three days previously) had suddenly become extremely popular. The normal beer supplies had been consumed, and there wasn’t enough time to restock before Mother’s Day. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. The next time you’re out of beer, blame the Mexicans.

Friday, May 21, 2010


    Note: My old, obsolete computer died, which is why I haven’t posted lately. But now I have a brand-new computer, which shouldn’t be obsolete for another 18 months.

I got up on a normal Friday morning, showered, shaved, dressed myself for work and stepped out of my front door, only to see this:


That’s a wild turkey, sauntering down the sidewalk in front of my house, like a neighborhood busybody checking up on the neighbors.

There’s a lot of wildlife in Florida, and we see more of it than most people, because we live very close to a state park. There’s a large rookery of snowy egrets nearby, herds of deer wander around nibbling on the shrubbery, and occasionally a black bear will be discovered eating from a garbage can. They’re all mostly harmless. But if you live near water, you often see signs like this:


There aren’t very many swimming holes in Florida, and if you do swim in a lake or river, you don’t swim alone.

The day after the turkey incident, we drove to the middle of the state where my wife’s brother manages a barbecue restaurant. He asked us, “Would you like to meet Pickles?” We had no idea what he was talking about, so we followed him through the kitchen, where he grabbed a loaf of bread and took us out the back door.

There’s a small pond out in back of the restaurant, with crystal-clear water (unusual for Florida). He tossed a few crumbs of bread in the water, which began to boil with fish.


“Here comes Pickles,” he said. A three foot long alligator appeared across the pond and swam casually towards us, halting at the water’s edge.


“She used to come for the fish, but the fish are too hard to catch. So now she wants the bread,” he explained. He squatted down by the water and offered a wad of bread, which Pickles gently took from his hand.


Alligators typically shun humans, hiding in deep water whenever they come nearby. My wife’s brother believes that Pickles was a pet that was released into the pond when she grew too large to keep at home. Even though she seems tame, alligators have very tiny, primitive brains that only process two concepts: food and sex. And while feeding her seems cute, it’s illegal. This is because you don’t want a hungry twelve foot long dinosaur living nearby that has no fear of people.

Personally, I belive this is one of those self-correcting problems. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a picture of my brother-in-law in the paper in about four years, accompanied by an interview with his grieving widow and another photo of Pickles, trussed and immobilized in the back of a Fish and Wildlife van. They’ll haul her off to a state park and dump her into a swamp. One day I’ll step out my door on a typical Friday morning, and there she’ll be. I just hope we have enough bread.