Left Behind

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Our topic of discussion today is food. You might think parts of the column are about something else and that I have tangented, but surely that is a figment of your imagination.

I never take food home with me from restaurants, regardless of how much is left. For one thing, there’s usually not much left. I tend to eat like I’ve never seen food before.

But also, I know I’m not going to eat the food later. Restaurant food only tastes good to me in the restaurant. Out of context, it loses all its impact. Maybe having someone with a nametag serve the leftovers to me in my kitchen would help, like in that “Far Side” cartoon where the young snake has to jiggle Grandpa Snake’s rat so he’ll think it’s alive. But who’s going to do that for me? You? I didn’t think so.

Besides, looking at the food later would only bring back uncomfortable memories of the restaurant. “I remember you!” I would say to the food accusingly. “You’re from when I was at Macaroni Grill and ate so much I couldn’t breathe!” Such experiences, when recalled to memory, tend to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth, as it were.

My one recent exception to the no-doggie-bags rule occurred in Las Vegas, where a lot of exceptions to a lot of rules take place. (I will never gamble, I will never spend less than $5 on a steak, I will never pay any amount of money to watch men painted blue do anything, etc.)

I was visiting my friend Pants (names have been changed), his wife Mrs. Pants, and the adorable Pants children, a family that has for some reason opted to live in the uninhabitable wasteland of Las Vegas. I should mention that this particular visit occurred in July, on the weekend that it was 116 degrees there. You are aware that I sometimes exaggerate for the sake of humor, as when I have mentioned that Freddie Prinze Jr. is the worst actor in the universe when in fact his worstness can only be proven for our specific planet and some of the moons of Jupiter. But I am not exaggerating when I report the temperature at 116 on the weekend I visited the Pants family. Young children, their constitutions still weak and unformed, were seen melting on the playgrounds. Black cars burst into flames. Religious leaders openly questioned their faith and urged all within the sound of their voices to beseech the pagan ice god for relief. It was a desperately miserable time to be alive. The mayor of Las Vegas surely will not be reelected if he allows weather like this to persist unabated.

As a result of the nightmarish weather, and in an effort to get this column back on approximately the same track it set out on, the Pantses and I spent all of our time indoors, mostly in restaurants. For dinner one night, we ate at the Claim Jumper. We do not have any Claim Jumpers around here — the Park City restaurant with that name is not part of the national chain — and boy, are we missing out. Evidently, the restaurant’s original plan was to attract giants, as everything is served in comically large portions that could never be ingested by an ordinary-sized individual. The guy who sued McDonald’s because he was fat, maybe. But not normal people.

After eating so much that we were sweating gravy, the Pantses and I had barely made a dent in our entrees. And then we realized we had neglected to save room for dessert. At Claim Jumper, the dessert you want is a special eclair that is the size of your head. It is served on ice cream and covered with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Thousands have been killed by it.

Unable to pass up an opportunity to enjoy the head-sized eclair, we got one to go. We brought home our other leftover food, too. I had half a chicken-fried steak at midnight, and for breakfast the next morning we all ate the eclair. Surely you agree that life could not get any better than that.

Paragraphs 2-4 are the by-product of a rather common occurrence with me, which is where I'm talking to a friend and in the course of conversation I say something that makes me think, "Hey, I should use that in a column." My friends probably think it's the other way around, that I've already thought of the stuff and I'm testing it on them. But I do that very infrequently; usually it happens this way. That's why I try to go to lunch with someone when I get writer's block. The act of sitting around and chatting with my friends, all of whom are funny, usually helps me come up with something worth writing about.

I searched the Internet for, I don't know, five minutes or so, trying to locate an actual name for an ice god or goddess, pagan or otherwise. Couldn't find any. There's a Norse goddess of winter, but I felt "ice" worked better in the sentence than "winter." So I left the pagan ice god unnamed. Any pagans reading this column can feel free to contact me if they do, in fact, have an ice god.

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