Thursday, September 21, 2006

Welcome With Well-Oiled Precision

The Hunger Site offers us a brief, familiar dose of common sense wisdom.

"We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."
- Native American Proverb

I've heard that in other forms, in other places and I'll bet you have, too. It sure can be easy to forget that what we do now manifests in the future as rewards and consequences for ourselves and others, and I want us to think seriously about this for a minute. Do you have a savings account? Are you saving for your retirement? No one wants to see you starve. Try bringing your lunch to work and put the money you would have spent away, where it accrues interest and where you can't touch it. And do yourself the biggest favor you can: pay down your credit cards. Please! A future is coming where debt we accumulate now will deprive us of a great deal. We can't avoid that. For your peace of mind, for national security and for your safety: please, skip shopping for things no one really needs and put the money toward whatever you owe.

That being said, Gary knows I am all about the silly.

Daaahhhlink! I saw items 1 and 2 instantly thought of you!

So chic, so tidy!

Last Friday, Siobhan, Lisa and I went out to the most peculiar place we could think of: the Red Lobster on Route 1 in Woodbridge. If you're not from here, Woodbridge is the center of New Jersey's interstate highway universe, which is really saying something. It's kind of invisible on paper, but Woodbridge is connected to All Things Jersey, which is why we elected its former mayor to be our gay governor with a blonde beard and gave an Oscar-worthy performance of being shocked! Shocked, I tell you! So there we were, at the crossroads of the Jersey Universe on a Friday night. I'm sweet enough, fuck you very much; I don't eat a lot of sugar. To crank up my mojo, I ordered a stupid-sweet girlie beverage that came in a glass as tall as my forearm is long. The joint was packed with young families and old people dragging oxygen tanks. Kids squealed and darted under the feet of underweight and over-polished waiters. Other chain restaurants may have their own cookie-cutter ambience, but this place positively reeked of desperation. Plus: we had a coupon.

For at least a year, years ago, Lisa, Siobhan and a bunch of our friends came here on Monday nights for karaoke. I don't do karaoke, but Siobhan used to live off karaoke contest prize money and the admiration of footloose businessmen. I can't explain that. Anyway, Monday after Monday, we brought toys to amuse ourselves and I showed up in my Sears Mens Store prison-striped pajamas. At the time, Ned and I both worked in and spent all our time at the bar in New Brunswick, when Ned wasn't touring with the Parasites. Going out to the wickedly corporate, faux Americana Red Lobster was getting out to stretch the legs a bit. Yes, that was the very depth of my most suicidal depression - however did you guess? So going back with Lisa, who has a life-threatening allergy to shrimp was flirting with disaster. We ordered mozzarella sticks.

If you are from an island, an isthmus or a peninsula, or if you have visited an island, an isthmus or a peninsula, you may have noticed that things like space, garbage and fresh water are treated differently than in, say, landlocked zip codes. My mother's family is from Cape Cod. What you do and don't do matters. Wasting fresh water is a big no-no when you are surrounded by salty, and creating unnecessary garbage is frowned upon: where ya gonna put that? When your main food and economic source is the ocean, the impetus to consider the future and take care of the ocean is stronger than, say, any desire to dump stuff into it. When you take a living thing out of the ocean to eat it, you cut off the possibility of its further reproducing and replenishing your food supply, so you take only what you need and nothing more. Thus, the surreally large meals were unnervingly short-sighted, and perhaps hinting we've passed the point of no return to reason, Siobhan's plate contained three halves of lobster tail, and I don't mean thirds. Everything I didn't eat Friday night went home with me. I ate nothing but leftovers all day Saturday, and resisted thinking about that time Siobhan, Gary and I spent three drunken days in Circus Circus, trying not to puke into the maelstrom of strobe-lit overindulgence.

This pointless excess is intended to conceal emotional emptiness with gastric fullness, and to hang shabbiness in the rags of false prosperity. This is not an illusion I chase, but I sat and watched. I was there, which implies that I condone this nonsense. A thousand years ago, I danced in a high school production of Cabaret, where I learned a lot about corruption and complicity; even dancing requires research. Anyway, the temptation as disaster looms is to close one's eyes and open oneself up to oblivion and sensual ephemerae, and if that comes with decadent butter sauce, so much the better. But morning will still come. Hunger will come. Wastefulness assures our destruction, and the loss of what might have saved us: one another. Maybe.

Lisa: The interviewer said, "Your end date is pretty far off," so maybe they have an opening coming up they want me for.

Six hands splay and wiggle.

Siobhan: - In the meantime, you're in no hurry so you can interview as much as you want.


Blogger Bob said...

I ate in that Red Lobster once & it was by far the worst chain restaurant meal I ever had with the worst "ambience." A Denny's at 3 am has more going for it. When I worked at the Pearl Arts store across the parking lot, I would watch seagulls circling the plume of steam & smoke rising from the Red Lobster kitchen exhaust pipe. Around & around they flew, it was really pathetic. Sort of a bird version of the "the sizzle sells the steak" but there was no steak.

4:27 PM  

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