Residents of the Joe Zone enjoy eating out as much as anyone in any universe; maybe more so. But even the most intrepid Zoners have their comfort zone. I knew trouble was brewing when I acquired a gift card to an es-snob-lishment with an unpronounceable foreign name. As I jacked up my pluck (watch for the coming Joe Zone instructional DVD on pluck jacking) and headed for the restaurant, I knew this was going to be a circus. The only question was how many rings would be under the big-top.
I entered the elegant eatery with trepidation. This place was all escargot, and I’m BLT’s and chicken planks. But a free gift card is a Gift Card that Must Be Used, so I swallowed my anxiety and entered, prepared to swallow heaven-knows-what as well.
Okay, here’s a bad sign. The maitre d’ is dressed better than I was for my wedding. The tablecloths are nicer material than Mrs. Zone’s fuzzy Christmas slippers. And I’m pretty sure that’s a Renoir on the wall.
As I was seated, my courage waivered. This restaurant was beyond anything I’d previously encountered; I was truly a stranger in a strange land. I imagine this is how Lewis and Clark felt when they blazed the Northwest Passage. I knew I needed to cut my losses and run. “Just dessert,” I told the waiter, as I adjusted the delicate lace napkin on my unworthy lap. Dessert seemed safe.
“Of course, monsieur. Flaming Bananas Foster at your tableside.”
“What? No, I don’t want that.”
“But, monsieur, it is our chef Henri’s specialty, and the only dessert we serve.”
Figures. I just want to eat something and get out of here, and they’re flinging some bombastic dessert at me. “Fine. But look, I don’t like bananas. Could I just have Foster?”
His eyebrows performed some gymnastic maneuver I’d never seen before. “Monsieur? That would be an insult! Henri would never allow it. It would be like Paris without the Eiffel Tower!”
“Sounds great. And could I have it to go? I don’t want to get any on this napkin.”
He wouldn’t do it. So I gave him the gift card, and told him to treat himself to whatever he liked on the menu, with or without the Eiffel Tower.
And I headed to Four Fat Guy’s Buckets o’ Lard for food I could understand.