Solitary Confinement

by Mike Jourard.
Column for The Leisure Times, Single Gourmet Newsletter, January, 1990.

The Numbers Game

     The other day I went to the Chinese banquet at Wah Sing. The place is small, but so popular that the Single Gourmet books half the restaurant for two nights. On our side of the restaurant, there were only six tables of ten people each.

     Well, I’m looking around, seeing who’s who and what’s what, and I’m counting. One, two, three... I stand up and count again. Four, five, SIX! As I stand there with a most quizzical look on my face, Ruthy comes rushing up to me. “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” she asks.

     I explained that I counted, and I counted, and I’m wondering: “Why was I at Table Number Seven?”

     Ruthy says when she arranges the place sittings, she never uses numbers One (1) or Thirteen (13), for obvious reasons. Now you know.

     So let me tell you about Table 15... I call it the “Table 15 Consortium.” You may have heard of us. We’re a younger group, all in our late twenties... ThirtyNothing... TwentyNineSomething... Yuppies’ younger siblings. We met at the Dinner/Dance at the Sheraton Centre on May 21, 1989.

     We sat down for dinner and hit it off so well it seemed we had been best friends for years. I mean BEST FRIENDS, just like you see in all those beer commercials.

     It certainly didn’t hurt that the hotel management gave us a complementary bottle of wine because they ran out of vegetables on us. We liked the replacement “vegetables” better!

     ANNE writes scripts for training films. She gained the reputation of having just enough to drink that she starts to spill things. Anne likes corny jokes, and still claims that she spills because I make her laugh, not because she’s drunk.

     GILLIAN muddles around in the insurance business, working the claims side of things. She makes fabulous knitted craftworks, and believes Elvis Presley still lives--through her cat, Elvis. I can’t say as I’ve noticed the resemblance.

     HEIDI designs children’s fashion, on a computer no less. Her cosmic cats, Cosmo and Rufus, cause her enough trouble to keep her occupied the rest of the time.

     MIKE (that’s me) is the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, blessed with a heart as big as all outdoors, a brain the size of a planet, and (according to the girls in high school back home) a face that would stop a clock. (What time is it? My watch has stopped.)

     NEIL sells insurance, although he gets extra marks for not trying to sell any to the rest of us. His sense of humour is weird and his delivery is strange. Most of the time it’s hard to tell if Neil is yanking your chain or not.

     RANDY is our Chef de Resistance. He is responsible for turning our “potluck picnics” into Gourmet Feasts. Until I met Randy, I thought Peanie Buster and Jelly Sam’iches were gourmet potluck chow.

     RAY works with delinquent kids, trying to keep them out of trouble. He is any easy going guy, but keep him away from the Grand Marnier.

     RITA co-ordinates sales advertising in the retail rag trade. She tends to be quiet, but giggles a lot.

     It was the first event for Anne and Ray. What an introduction to the Single Gourmet!

     Since that time, we have managed to get together a couple of times for “pot luck” dinner. Even these aren’t your average fare. Filet Mignon, Chateau Briand, Strawberries marinaded in Grand Marnier, Crudites, Waldorf Salad, and our own special “Chateau Table 15 Vegetables.” (Single Gourmet members eat VERY WELL wherever they go.)

     The Girls always know what’s going on. “We keep in touch,” Heidi says. Not with me. It seems I’m always the last to know. I know we’re all too busy with our independent goings on to meet for Sunday brunch. Or to go to dinner and a movie sometime.

     And I know Rita is supposed to be mad at me for some reason. Anne and Astrid laugh. “Rita? Mad at someone?” Must be Neil trying to stir up trouble again.

     The amazing thing about Table 15 is that the sparks fly only when the group is all together. We’ve seen other members of the group one at a time at other events, and it just hasn’t been the same. “Even a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the Autumn Moon is right.” I guess the Whole is greater that the Sum of its Parts.

Last Minute Update On Table 15

     Congratulations are in order for Randy; regrets to the rest of the group. While on vacation out West last summer, he got re-acquainted with an Old Flame. Sources tell me they will be living together for a year before marrying. We’ll miss you, Randy. Drop us a line sometime to say hello.

     Ray is missing. Nobody has heard from him in a number of months, and he has not returned our calls. E.T., phone home.

     Table 15 is more a frame of mind than a physical place setting. At the Anniversary Party at Captain John’s last November, I met Alison, Astrid, Doug, Gary, Monica, and Terry. This time we were at Table 14, but they are six more friends I consider eligible to join Table 15. (Make sure I have your phone numbers, guys, if you dont’ want to be left out of the next Table 15 gathering. Whenever THAT will be.)

A Good Man is Hard to Find

     I’m told there seems to be a shortage of men attending the events during the week, especially the Dinner/Dances. No one seems to know why most men are afraid to come out. (I’m NOT afraid. I’m too busy with other things. That’s MY excuse, and I’m sticking to it.)

     Is it because male members of the Single Gourmet (ooooh, what a provocative phrase!) don’t stay out late on “school nights”? Do they come out on weekends because there is nothing interesting to watch on TV on Friday and Saturday?

     I hereby put forth a challenge to the guys staying home on week nights. (This is just like the Jerry Lewis Telethon, isn’t it?) Make at least one event you go to this month a week night event.

     You’ll be glad you did. I went to a Dinner/Dance at the Imperial Room on a Tuesday night. Tres elegante! And even though the music wasn’t quite my speed (does anyone still POGO?), I had a great time.

     Who knows? Maybe that certain someone you’ve been trying to meet doesn’t go to the weekend events.

Drink, Puppy, Drink

     It’s Friday night. I’m home from work; my social calendar is empty. I’m tired of struggling with the age old question of “Do I order another pizza, or make craft dinner?” One can only take some much of the gourmet delights of “Crud from a Can.”

     Sitting at home, there’s NOTHING on TV. Except a heavily censored version of “The Breakfast Club,” with all the nasty words changed. (Do we really have to put up with that “...STUFF...”?)

     Still, it’s one of the most insightful movies I’ve seen in quite a while. As Bender says, “If he gets up, we’ll all get up! It’ll be anarchy!”

     Then let’s have some anarchy! I don’t want to be a “Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebie.” I want to get out of the house, and have a good time for a change. “I want excitement! I want to go places! I want to do things! I want freedom... liberty... life... laughter... gaiety. I want to Hot-tch-cha-cha!”

     What I need are DRINKING BUDDIES. Picture this: You’re at home. You’re watching TV. The phone rings. “How’s it going, eh?” you say.

     “Hey, what are you doing tonight? Oh, nothing? Me, too. Let’s get out of here and go for a drink. Good idea. Meet you in 10 minutes.”

     Let’s face it. If you’re like me, you joined the Single Gourmet because you can’t stand the Bar Scene. Personally, I don’t mind going to bars. (Anyone remember Lulu’s??) I just don’t like going alone. So get in touch with me and give me your phone number. I’ll give you a call, we’ll go for a drink...

Abyssinia later.

This web page is maintained by Mike Jourard.
Last modified on March 14, 2003. Copyright © 2003 by Badinage Publications. All rights reserved.