I knew this was no fine-dining joint, and that was OK with me really. I don’t need the kind of restaurant where they return your uneaten portion to you in foil cleverly crimped to look like a preening swan, or even the kind where it comes back in a dear little jewel case with “Mmm-mmm good!” scrawled on top.

I knew this was no fine-dining joint, and that was OK with me really. I don’t need the kind of restaurant where they return your uneaten portion to you in foil cleverly crimped to look like a preening swan, or even the kind where it comes back in a dear little jewel case with “Mmm-mmm good!” scrawled on top.


And a good thing that is because at this place they just bring out a Styrofoam box and let you be the one to try shoveling your leftovers into it.


To be honest that’s OK with me, too, since the slinging down of the Styrofoam always reminds me of the most rollicking wedding reception I ever attended, where, after serving each of us an oval platter of chicken parm as wide as a human chest, the waitresses then came around with giant Zip-loc bags into which we were invited to tip whatever portion remained of that lava-like first course.


I was happy to be on my own with my leftovers.  


What I wasn’t happy about was being witness to the loud monologue coming from the booth at the end of my row of booths where a man I could not see was holding forth to the woman I took to be his wife.


All of this happened over the holiday weekend just past I should maybe add.


“Whole place is going to hell!” was the first thing I heard the man say.


“What place?” asked his wife with what sounded like keen trepidation.


“Whole country, that’s what place! Used to be we’d get 1500 in the Fourth parade!” he roared.


I signaled to the waiter.


“On second thought I believe I WILL take that bowl of popcorn,” I told him.


As a dyed-in-the-wool Weight Watchers devotee, I always refuse the roll that comes with your salad and as for popcorn in a bowl, well’s that’s my version of an all-out binge. I ordered it this night in a kind of rattled desperation, the way a man might order a triple martini with a chaser of scotch.


Meanwhile, the man went on:


“1500 people minimum and 150 dogs. ...”


“Dogs?” asked his wife.


But he ignored her.


“Now hardly anybody! Not even half that number!”


“Ah well …” she began in a mollifying tone.


But he wasn’t listening.


“Now what’re they doing? Going AWAY! Going out on their BOATS! With their FRIENDS, and their KIDS, and their friends’ KIDS. I say let ‘em go! Hell with ‘em!”


“Now WHO are we talking about again?” asked the wife.


“Not that it'll be much of a parade anyway. And only half the dogs…”


“Hot dogs?” she timidly asked.


“Jeez!” he shouted. “DOG dogs, for cripe’s sake.”


And then his anger took an even odder turn:


“And there's another group: teachers! Most underworked, overpaid people in the country!”


The topsy-turvy nature of THAT remark stopped me in my tracks. It was all I could do not to lean out of the booth and get a look at this guy. Teachers underworked and overpaid? TEACHERS?


“Like I say, the whole country is wrecked” - only he didn’t say ‘wrecked.’


What was most certainly wrecked was the sense of peace that had previously hovered over the six or eight parties dining in earshot of this angry man.


We ate our respective meals in relative silence, then humbly stowed our leftovers in our Styrofoam boxes.


“It takes all kinds,” I could almost hear us all thinking.


And also “Pity that poor wife!” who could only repeat again her plaintive one-word question:


“Dogs?”


See a new story by Terry every day and leave your comments on her blog Exit Only at www.terrymarotta.wordpress.com. Write her any time either at terry@terrymarotta.com or c/o Ravenscroft Press, Box 270, Winchester, MA 01890.