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Friday, September 2, 2016



     "So guys, where should we go for dinner? Let's go out for Chinese food!" Those words are music to my ears. By the way, my ears would be the only place I would expect anything to be music to. Anyway, going out for Chinese is just the thing if you don't feel like something too fancy. And it's so convenient, much more so now that you don't have to drive all the way to China. There's a place five minutes away! So we went out with our friends Bob & Cathy on a Sunday night.
     I like to have a little fun with the waitress, chat her up a bit, tell some jokes. Have you heard the penguin joke? It's about 20 minutes long, but totally worth it. "The penguin is driving around in his car, see, and all of a sudden"- BOOM- our waitress is all the way over on the other side of the room THAT QUICKLY before the penguin has barely driven two feet. Penguins can be an acquired taste, I understand that.
     It usually takes me a while to figure out what to order. There are so many different sauces and vegetables. My wife's Mom used to cook Chinese food all the time, and she introduced me to all kinds of things. Tree ears are a kind of edible fungus, for instance. I never heard of them, but possibly my ears are not as good as theirs. Bamboo shoots- turns out they're not only used for torture. Water chestnuts are these little doohickeys that don't taste like much by themselves, but they're good mixed in with all the other stuff.
     Halfway down the menu, they announce that General Tso's chicken! This is not the kind of thing I would want to get out, if I were General Tso. And if this guy is such a military genius, how come nobody can agree on how his name is spelled? It's different on every menu.
     The waitress comes back to pour the water, and looks like she wants to pour mine over my head.... "So," I continue, "the penguin's car breaks down, and he notices there's a service station, and-" POW- she's taking someone else's order three tables down.
     So we take another look at the menu- there are so many choices. You could put just about any adjective before the word "chicken" and order it at a Chinese restaurant. Try it! What's the weirdest adjective you can think of? "Perpendicular?" "I'll have the perpendicular chicken. Only NO mushrooms." She takes everyone's order before they have finished saying it and immediately vaporizes. I yell after her, "AND COULD YOU BRING EXTRA-" She yells "OK!"
     There's crispy chicken, curry chicken, orange chicken. I saw an orange chicken once at a petting zoo, so maybe it was one of those. They have chicken with snow peas, chicken with broccoli, chicken with eggplant and chicken with baby shrimp. You have to eat that one quickly because the lifespan of shrimp is very short to begin with.
     The meal is good, and I feel like some coffee, but at Chinese restaurants they usually only have tea. I ask anyway, because a lot has changed in China in the age of the internet. "While I have you here, the penguin goes to the service station to ask about his car, see, and-" "No coffee, just tea!" She says, from where I don't know because I can only hear her, not see her.
     After the meal they sometimes bring an orange, supposedly to cleanse the palate. A nice tradition, even if nobody ever eats the orange. Americans would probably just spray some palate cleanser down their gullet and hope for the best. Then it's time to open the fortune cookie. It's pretty obvious that I get someone else's fortune by mistake, like, "Wealth awaits you today." So far all I have is the cookie, not the fortune.
     The waitress flies by and grabs the credit card slip just as I am dotting my i leaving a big line across the top of my signature. She yells out "Thank you!" before I even have a chance to finish the penguin joke. Write me and I'll tell it to you.

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