Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hurling Napoleons

“Is there anything you guys don’t fight about?”
I was having coffee with my friend John. We have coffee together sometimes, usually at a trendy cafe where the guy behind the counter gets our orders all wrong. 
I can’t blame him, the guy behind the counter I mean, because it must be difficult trying to remember how to make the three-dozen different types of coffees they have on offer. 
So he doesn’t try, but makes the same thing, whatever you order. 
I fooled him today, though, I asked for tea. Hot tea. And a muffin.
“Hot tea?” he repeated, like I had two heads. He shrugged his shoulders, took my money and returned his attention to his personal device. He seemed preoccupied, texting as he was and talking at the same time to a pretty girl who stood off to one side waiting for her sandwich, also texting. 
So the joke was on me. Instead of tea I got, as near as I can tell, a double tall espresso with frothy goat’s milk and cardamon drizzle. 
I don’t know why, but I’m always too intimidated to complain when he gets it wrong. Maybe I’m getting old and with the wisdom of maturity have come to realize that it wouldn’t do any good. That in a moment of cosmic clarity I understand that coffee or tea, what’s the difference? 
Or maybe it was the fearsome tattoo he wore of a large, fire breathing dragon wrapped menacingly around his neck that I found inhibiting.
It wasn’t a very friendly tattoo. 
So I sipped my espresso and smiled like it was just what I wanted, saying thanks a lot. 
“Remind me to leave that guy a big tip,” I said to John.
That’s when John had asked me about all the fighting I did with my wife. John’s a good friend, and even though he’s met me for coffee and heard it all a million times before, he knows that sometimes I’ve just got to get it off my chest. 
He’s also married, so he knows that every marriage has its ups and downs. 
Perhaps you’ve found it so?
“Geez, Rusty,” he asked me with a laugh. “Is there anything you guys don’t fight about?”
I was unsure how to answer his question. My wife and I have been married a long time and, being married to me as you can imagine she’s had the opportunity for plenty of fighting. But we’ve also had plenty of good loving too, let’s not forget that. 
That’s the way it is with my wife and me… no holds barred!
John took a bite of his muffin, and seeing this, I had an inspiration. 
“Well,” I began. “We’ve fought about every type of muffin or pastry that I know of, that’s for sure! Cake too, especially wedding cake. That’s one of her favorites. She likes to bite the head off the little groom and growl at me menacingly.” 
John laughed, but I continued. “You know that painting Goya did,” I asked, “during his Black Period, of Saturn devouring his own son?”
John looked up in horror, recalling Goya’s famous painting. Goya was 75-years-old when he completed this terrible masterpiece, alone and in mental despair. 
John is a very accomplished artist whose work I truly admire. He has a better outlook on life than Goya did, too, which makes him fun to be around. He has a way of making other people feel good, of always adding and never taking away. We had worked together for Walt Disney on movies like Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, and Brother Bear, drawing cute little critters until our hands bled, and this had made us kin.
“But it’s not just cakes and pies,” I continued. “We’ve fought about pastries, too. And every cookie there ever was! She likes cookies. She likes to throw ‘em at me. She’s a good shot, too! I’m surprised she never pitched for the damned Yankees, with an arm like hers.” 
John was chewing his muffin. Which makes me laugh because it sounds so dirty. Chewing some muffin. Don’t worry though, it’s safe to chew your muffin in a cafe where one is surrounded by many chewable muffins for sale.
It’s when you’re chewing someone else’s muffin that the trouble sometimes starts.
“She could’ve pitched for the damned Yankees!” I repeated, then added with undisguised admiration, “You should see her hurl a custard-filled Napoleon!”
“Who?” asked John lazily, still chewing his muffin. “Your wife?”
“Sure, my wife!” I answered. “Who else? 
“It was in Paris. She’d been in this pastry shop on the rue Saint-Honoré for over an hour, while I stood outside waiting in the rain. You know how it can rain in Paris?
“Well, like a fool I had to go in and ask when she thought she might be finished so we could go get some lunch and wham! She let me have it! Right in the kisser!”
John looked up from his muffin. “She got you in the face?” he asked. “With a custard-filled Napoleon?”
“Not me!” I laughed. “The guy behind me! I’ve had plenty of experience, mate, and as she went into her windup I saw it coming and whoosh! I ducked down just in time! Haha! Luckily, it wasn’t a Parisian, but a German.”
“Who? The guy behind you?”
“No. The pastry! It was a strudel! She’d picked it up by mistake! She meant to grab a Mont Blanc!”
“What about Napoleon?” asked John.
“That wasn’t at Mont Blanc,” I answered. “He got his at Waterloo, didn’t he?”
“What about the guy behind you,” insisted John. “The guy who got it in the face?”
“Oh, him! He wasn’t from Mont Blanc either, but was a Dane.”
“You mean he was Danish?” asked John.
“No, no, no!” I replied, somewhat exasperated. 
“It was a strudel!”

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