Monday, May 4, 2015

Whine and Cheese

   Last week I met my friend Kathy at a Wine Bar on Orange Avenue. 
   I arrived early. After scanning the menu, which listed at least two-hundred different beers, I couldn’t decide and settled for a local brew, and some Spanish cheese with crackers to go with it. I couldn’t be bothered flirting with the young lady behind the bar. She was probably half my age, which to some men might sound good, but not to me and besides, three other guys were flirting with her already. They jabbered on about what successful, important days they’d had, and dropped hints about the foreign sports cars they drove. She smiled sweetly but seemed unimpressed.
   The beer I ordered was called, rather appropriately, Swamp Brew. Made from the finest Florida waters, bragged the label, and collected at the shores of Lake Okeechobee when the moon was full. Why during the full moon I couldn’t say, maybe the water tastes better then. It’s a very dangerous profession, by the way, collecting this water, because of the alligators and snakes that inhabit the lake. 
   That must explain the excessive price, I reckoned, danger money for the brewmasters.
   That might have explained the taste, too, alligator and snake poop in the water.
   I was reading my Kindle, chewing cheese and sipping beer. I like reading from a Kindle, no one can see what you’re reading. I like my privacy, especially about what I read. Don’t worry though, I wasn’t reading anything naughty. I was reading Aesop’s Fables.

“After all is said and done, more is said than done.” ― Aesop

   “Hi Rusty!” called Kathy as she entered. We’d been friends for many years, Kathy and I, both of us having worked for Walt Disney Feature Animation, animating gorillas and lions and horses and bears and Stitches. All of whom, when they wanted to, spoke perfect English, except Khan*, the horse from Mulan, who never said a thing. Then, after the Disney execs laid us all off and closed the Florida studio in 2004, we’d worked together for five years at Full Sail University, teaching animation to mostly disinterested young video game players.
   They thought animation was going to be easy. How wrong they were!
   Funny how life is. I’d been Kathy’s boss at Disney, she’d been my boss at Full Sail. 
   So remember; you artists out there! You’d better try to be nice to the people you meet as you make your way through life, because you don’t know when you might meet them again.
   “What’s new?” asked Kathy.
   I noticed the slight look of apprehension in her eyes. She was afraid I’d start on one of my favorite subjects, my impossible-to-finish book or my sometimes pugnacious marriage. She’d heard it all before, many times. Disregarding her apprehension, I pitched straight in.
   After all, what are friends for?
   “I’m fighting with the missus again,” I started.
   “Oh really?” she asked with more than a touch of boredom. “What about this time?”
   There were so many things we fought about, it was difficult to choose just one. I looked down at the table, where the Kindle and plate of cheese sat, and answered simply, “Crackers.”
   “Yeah,” I sighed. “Crackers.”
   Kathy poured herself a Swamp Brew. After tasting it, she made a sour face and said, “Go on, I’m listening.”
   “We’d been fighting like cats and dogs,” I began. “About what I can’t remember. I think it was the weather. Her smartphone app said it was going to rain, mine said it wasn’t.”
   Sometimes even our apps can’t agree, so what chance have I got?
  “Anyways,” I continued. “I was making a salad for my dinner and I needed a bowl. Well, the bowl I reached for contained small packets of crackers, like the ones you get with your soup at Denny’s, you know? So I spilled them out onto the counter top, intending to replace them when I’d finished with the bowl. I’m not that stupid!” I insisted. “I know enough not to mess with my wife’s stuff, even if it’s just crackers. 
   “She comes in and seeing the crackers, starts yelling at me not to touch them!”
   I took a sip of my beer as Kathy asked, “What happened next?”
   “‘Don’t touch those crackers!’ she ordered. ‘They’re for the meatloaf I’m going to make!’ And I said, ‘Fine, I’m not touching your crackers. I’m making a salad. Don’t worry, your meatloaf is safe!’ 
   “‘Yeah?’ she says, ‘Well, I’m not going to make the blasted meatloaf now! It’ll be a cold day in hell before you taste my meatloaf again!’
   “‘Okay,’ said I, ‘Then I won’t touch the crackers you won’t be using to not make the meatloaf!”
   Kathy excused herself and went to get a beer.

*Disney's Mulan 1998

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