Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Red Sea

We ate dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Boston on the Harvard Campus. It was incredible. Beautiful, long, slender black women with heavy accents waited the tables. There was excellent service, ambiance, and food. Perfect. I had never eaten Ethiopian food before, and had no idea what to expect. The experience was great, except for the sniveling pussy at the table sitting next to us. He was the sort of guy who gives guys with ponytails a bad name. I primarily resented him on that account. I have a nearly identical ponytail. He was underweight and slightly hunched. He had a weak voice with a condescending tone. He was wearing a polo shirt and ancient running shoes. I hated him. He and his girlfriend sat down just moments before my wife and I arrived. He spent about ten minutes educating his girlfriend on the menu, taking great care to pronounce everything correctly and explain its cultural significance to the good people of Ethiopia. When he ordered, he took great care to pronounce everything correctly once again. I wonder if he thought there was some prize to be had for being the most cultured and tolerant white guy in the house. I thought he was about to apologize for slavery, apartheid, and Vanilla Ice. After ordering, he proceeded to gripe about a funeral that he had recently attended, and followed that up with a lecture on the moral etiquette of grieving. Apparently somebody in attendance at the aforementioned funeral was expressing a disproportionate amount of grief to their relationship with the deceased, and it bothered him. Then he talked about mountain biking, and how advanced the courses he rides are, and that he would love to take his girlfriend mountain biking, but wouldn’t dare subject her to the rigors of the difficult courses that he rides. He pissed and moaned about what must have been a dozen other petty, irrelevant things. Eventually he started taking shots at people from West Virginia. I’m not from West Virginia, but it’s less than half an hour’s drive from where I live. I’ve been there, and West Virginia isn’t that much different than western Pennsylvania. I wondered what qualified Mr. Harvard to trash on people from a state he’d likely never seen. I wondered why it’s okay for educated, privileged pseudo-intellectuals to trash on poor, white people from the middle of nowhere, though they’d never dream of uttering a critical word about any other race. Right when I was thinking about tackling him, putting him in a headlock, and shaving his head with a butter knife, my phone rang. My phone never rings, so I generally don’t bother turning the ringer off when I’m in restaurants, though I know it’s a common courtesy. This particular event was actually the first time that it had ever rung while in a restaurant. My phone plays Slayer when it rings, quite loudly. You can hear it clear as a bell. Initially, I didn’t even realize that it was my phone. I saw an Asian guy beside me start frantically reaching into one of his pockets, and I assumed it was his. I laughed and smiled at him knowingly, thinking that I had just made a new friend. We were united in Slayer! Clearly he was a scholar and a gentleman, with impeccable taste in music. Maybe he would help me pummel the sniveling pussy with the ponytail sitting next to me? Then I looked over at my wife, who was redder than a stop sign. “Turn off your phone!” she urgently whispered at me across the table, through clenched teeth. I said, “Easy baby, it’s not mine,” and smiled, trying to assuage her misdirected reaction. Once we determined that it was, in fact, mine, I took my time turning it off. The sniveling pussy at the table next to us looked appalled. I checked it later to see who had called. It was my friend Dave. It was further proof that he’s an excellent and helpful guy.

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