Solitary Confinement

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

The Sky’s the Limit

     The view from the CN Tower is spectacular, especially on a clear night like it was the night of the event at Sparkles last November. You can see forever, almost. You can even see the curvature of the earth! Yes, the earth is round, like a ball.

     I wonder if the tower is truly perpendicular and straight. When you build something that tall, won’t the speed of the rotation of the earth throw your plumb measure out a bit. Won’t the tower really have a curve in it?

     So back to Sparkles: The food was quite good. It was better than anyone seemed to expect. Especially the roast top sirloin of beef, and the “ragout de fruits de mer.” There was also many various salads, and miscellaneous veggies. For dessert, we had a selection of French pastries, such as these strange things that looked like E.T., and terrible cakey butter tarts.

     But try to get a cup of tea! I went to the bar—yes, if you wanted a tea or coffee, you had to get up and ask for it yourself—to get three cups of tea for my table. (Being a Gentleman, I was getting tea for Wendy and Brenda.) The hot water was no problem. But the bartender only had two tea bags, so he had to get more. His concept of “more” meant four. At least I got my tea.

     I danced a bit, with Brenda, and her friend Lucille, or Lorraine, or whatever her name was. At one point, I was dancing with both of them at the same time. Brenda and I got up to dance, Lorraine didn’t have a partner, so Brenda just told her to join us. “Mike can handle two women at once,” she said.

     Conversation at our table was great. For a change, there was much less talk about “work” and more talk about our hobbies. Travel, and skiing, and ski trips were the most popular topics. I am not a skier, except the one time I rolled down the baby hill at Kelso. I would like to try cross-country skiing this year. Maybe they will have the “Skiing is Believing” program again. (That is not a Single Gourmet event!)

     I saw Brenda again at the Christmas Party at the Original Bakery, where she told me to say: “I met the most charming woman at the CN Tower. We shared the most spectacular view of Toronto. Then I met her friend who was just as charming and luscious.” She went on to tell me to say “She’s such a wonderful woman that every man in the Single Gourmet would want to take her out, especially the ones with money.”

A Comedy of Errors

     Sometimes, you can have an absolutely marvelous time, even when things go wrong. It was like that at the Christmas Buffet, at the Original Bakery Cafe, with the Single Gourmet. (Hey! that RHYMES! I’m a poet, and I didn’t know it!) Things went wrong one after another.

     To begin with, I got there about 7:35p.m. Street people (those annoying members of the public at large that do not belong to the Single Gourmet) kept coming in to the store to buy their weekly baked goodies. This was in spite of a big sign on the door saying the place was closed from 3:00 p.m. for a private party. Ruthy kept turning them away. It seems that Reading is a lost art. (Having gotten this far, I’m glad YOU haven’t lost it!)

     During cocktails, I met Wendith, who is a “Dreamweaver.” She specializes in Relaxation Therapy, Reflexology, Jin Shin Do, and Accupressure. Quite interesting stuff. In fact, she’s so good at it she didn’t realize she was slowly sliding a glass of mulled wine off the table behind her. S*M*A*S*H!!! Start counting... that’s mishap number two.

     And then on to dinner. At my table, Number Eight, were Lorraine, Ross, Elizabeth, Tony, Kathy, and myself. First course was Salad. I was wearing my Santa Bear tie pin. Elizabeth was dressed all in red. I commented that she should wear some lettuce on her dress, as an accent for the Spirit of the Season. That almost started a food fight, and we all laughed.

     Tony had his plate and fork taken away after his salad, so we had to get the waiter to bring him a new plate. At this point, Tony pointed out that our plates were warped. His wasn’t, because he managed to get a round plate from the waiter. (Actually, they were oval plates.)

     The buffet was ready. The waiting line, however, went almost all the way out the door. When we finally got to the food, they ran out of the Cornmeal Dumplings. We had to wait some more.

     We got back to the table with our main course, where we discovered that my fork, and Elizabeth’s napkin were missing. Elizabeth, sitting on the side of the table away from the wall, graciously got up to retrieve new ones.

     There were no bread plates. When the rolls came, we had to eat off our Single Gourmet menus. That’s mishap number ten. Tony’s butter was frozen. And his water tasted funny. Maybe it was a dirty glass. And his chair was broken.

     At one point, Tony changed his name tag to read “Mike”. And then he changed Kathy’s tag the same way. Ross followed suit at the other end of the table, and all six of us became “Mike” for the evening.

     For some reason, Elizabeth became obsessed with spoon hanging. She kept holding her spoon against her nose, because she couldn’t get it to hang there by itself. “Show me how to do it, Mike,” she pleaded.

     There is a secret to it, but I didn’t know what it is. It has something to do with blowing on the spoon first. Kathy cheated by using the label from the After-Dinner Bon-Bon to stick the spoon to her nose.

     If you have any suggestions, send them to: Spoon Hanging, Solitary Confinement, c/o The Single Gourmet. Don’t delay, send your answers today. The best (or only) solutions to this mysterious ancient ritual will be published in a future column.

     And we all laughed, having a grand old time counting these things that were going awry. It was so much fun, I broke the rules of etiquette, and got some paper to jot them down before I forgot. (I don’t usually take notes at events. But then again, it WAS an unusual evening.)

     In case you think the evening was a total disaster, the coffee (for those who had it) was excellent. Even the tea was good, served as it should with milk instead of cream.

     And the desserts were decadent, all dripping with chocolate and sprinkled with powdered sugar. At least I think it was sugar. Elizabeth kept threatening to go up for seconds, calling herself the “stomach that walks like a woman.”

     I wouldn’t show them what I had written in my notes, so Kathy decided she was going to write her own column in competition with mine:

Kathy’s Corner

  1. Most popular man at my table—Mike (aka John “Bluto” Belushi).
  2. As far as unattached people go—Mike is your best bet.
  3. Elizabeth (who plays with spoons on a part-time basis enjoys living on The Esplanade—favourite hang out—Spaghetti Factory.
  4. Tony (alias Mike) enjoys hard butter, getting hit on the head, and cold coffee.
  5. Ross enjoys sex on the weekends and eating peanut brittle in the shower.
  6. Lorraine (an avid bowler) enjoys the goof of the grape, going for seconds at the sweet table, and gin rummy.

We Are Family

     There’s a feeling deep down in the pit of your stomach. It’s really unexplainable, but when you feel it you know exactly what it is. It’s not really pain, but it’s not really pleasure. It’s neither and it’s both.

     For me, the feeling comes when I am very hungry. Or when I am in Love. I mean LOVE. Either way, it’s a kind of hunger. The way I see it, the Single Gourmet will quench that hunger one way or the other.

     The Single Gourmet is starting to seem like Family. It was almost like Old Home Week at the Christmas Party. Most of the Table 15 Consortium was there: Anne, Rita, Heidi, and Neill. I saw Margaret, whom I met at my very first event.

     I also saw Laura, Chris, Glenn, Brenda, Penny, Janet, and Doug. Romper, Bomper, Stomper Room! And I met some new Family, the Table Eight Quints: Lorraine, Ross, Elizabeth, Tony, and Kathy.

     I get Warm Fuzzies just thinking about it! It’s a Wonderful Life.

Abyssinia later.

* Excerpt from Puppies Don’t Pogo, Volume 5: Still Yet Another New Wave Collection of Various and Sundry Thoughts by Mike Jourard, copyright ©1989 by Badinage Publications. Used by permission.

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