I remember a family vacation. A vacation from a long, long time ago. I was in middle school, I believe. The whole family loaded up into the big blue van. A van which has long since given up the ghost. (A small driveway fire. And by small, I mean flames which engulfed almost the entire van.) We drove to Niagara Falls. The Canadian side, of course. Full of its wax museums, go karts, Maid of the Mist. We would find later in our journey that the American side is nothing other than a boring, nature filled park. Paling in comparison to , and all the Canadian’s glory Yay, America.
One fine, Canadian evening, we were dining at an Italian place. Yes, in Canada. I get the irony. One of my sisters, I don’t recall which, ordered a meal off the kid’s menu. “Spaghetti with meatball,” it said. And thusly, it was ordered. To our amusement, the meal was delivered exactly as ordered. A plate of spaghetti and one, yes, count them, one meatball. for some reason, this was highly entertaining to all of us. In hindsight, I honestly have no idea what about the situation was funny at all. Nonetheless, it immediately became a joke. And remains so to this very day. At least to me.
This afternoon, after running an errand (an errand in which I got to see details of every life stage of the bed bug, cimex lectularius, if you will. Quite disgusting creatures, really), we stopped for lunch. After a few let downs, including no syrup for the soda machine, and a lack of ice in the ice dispenser (the latter was a minor let down, as I remembered an episode of Restaurant Impossible, where they should all kinds of green slime in a restaurant’s ice maker. Quite disgusting, really), I took my order back to the truck to inhale as quickly as I could as we sped back to my office for a meeting for which I was sure to be late.
I opened the barely sealed container. “Is that one piece of chicken?” my wife asked. “I…is…what? Really?” I eloquently replied. Indeed it was. One sole piece of chicken. The chicken, which was, and always will be my one true desire when I go to Long John Silvers. That moist, succulent, greasy, battered chicken, fried expertly by the fish experts. I searched frantically in vain for another plank of unhealthy deliciousness. My heart was broken.
“What did you order?” she pried.
“It was well…2 fish, chicken, and 3 shrimp,” I answered.
“Well. What did you expect?” she retorted.
“Well…I…ummm…yeah.” Again, as articulate as one would expect. It all came rushing back. The lights. The smells. The wax museums. The family of ducks plunging to their unlikely doom as they rushed over the edge of the falls. (True story. Again, part of the Canadian majesty. And why didn’t they fly as they careened towards a watery death?). The Italian restaurant. The…the spaghetti…with meatball.
I gulped down my fourth unsatisfying hush puppy, leaving behind two grease-soaked, fried balls of dough. I could eat no more. “I’m full of grease,” was all I could muster, feeling both saturated and more than a little depressed.
It’s just not the same. I hate myself.