Tuesday, February 20, 2007

You And The Night And The Mueslix or: Out Of Orbit, Unstuck In Time!

So for a few months now, I’ve been working this very strange evening shift.

It changes a great many things. For instance, your social schedule, threadbare as it may be, undergoes an unwelcome metamorphosis. It doesn’t match up with anyone you know anymore and leaves you sort of like a wallflower at the dance.

The other thing it screws up is your eating schedule. Lunch becomes Breakfast, Dinner becomes Lunch, and you can’t really establish any kind of regular pattern with it. I find myself eating salami sandwiches at 8 o’clock in the morning which, aside from providing the mild frisson of feeling like a social rebel, makes me feel like I’m slightly out of synch with the rest of the world although, arguably, someone is undoubtedly eating a salami sandwich at that moment somewhere in the world.

There’s no true awake and asleep time either. They blend together, the awake begging to fall asleep and the asleep preferring to remain awake.

There was this Outer Limits episode where this couple became unstuck in time. They could see everything around them moving in extremely slow motion and learned that they had one shot at getting back into the timestream. If they failed, it would doom them to an infinity of limbo, existing in the spaces between time.

That’s sort of the deal here, only without the theremin music.

So it’s a welcome thing when the wife and I can coordinate our schedules to arrange a dinner that we can both attend at the same time.

Now a very interesting thing has happened in the neighborhood recently. The folks who ran our favorite Chinese restaurant a couple miles away decided to hand off the place to someone else and open up a new place.

Up the street. From the house. A block away.

You may recall that there is literally a short brick road that leads from our house to the main street, a road which two years ago was festooned with short yellow lamps in an attempt to beautify the neighborhood.

Actually, a lot of that has been happening since we moved in.

Anyway, at the end of its brief duration you can find the Buddhist college to the left and the hardware store on the right. It’s an interesting arrangement: you know, if you ever find yourself getting too lost in affairs of the spirit on the one corner, you can always cross the street and buy a handful of washers or nails to bring you back to Earth.

But now, as if in answer to some unspoken universal need for balance, the new Chinese restaurant appears equidistant from both, at the apex of its implied triangle. Here, one can feed the mind and the body simultaneously. Furthermore, it now marks the ultimate destination of our little brick road, its lights marking the way to the approach.

That isn’t all: the guy helping to run it is someone we haven’t see in ages who used to run our other favorite restaurant around 20 years ago. He recognized us right away and called me by name.

And, in between the egg roll and the dumplings and the hot tea, I couldn’t help but think about all these bodies, all these orbits, ceaselessly moving, in and out of the years and the jobs, and how pleasant and rare it can be when they can be at rest for a moment, passing some mustard across a table.

It seemed appropriate that we were there the night they were celebrating yet another orbiting return, that of the Chinese New Year which our placemats informed us was about to introduce the Year Of The Boar.

Like that doesn’t describe every year.

But for an hour or so, it felt like we’d hooked back up with the timestream and escaped that dreaded limbo, where the unlucky spectres caught in its vortex dine on their temporally displaced salami sandwiches and watch the world unfold in slow motion.

It certainly didn’t describe our waiter. He had the main dish out before we’d finished the appetizers.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

To reply to your last thoughts, I am a waiter and if you think that he or she had any control over when the food was done and when he had to bring it out, think again. I am very VERY tired of people complaining about this and other similar acts. At least where I work there are times when I have no control what-so-ever over when the food is cooked. Would you rather the waiter wait til you are done with your appetizers? Then you would complain that the food was cold. I hate customers who complain...get a life and eat at home.

Friday, March 16, 2007 3:22:00 AM  
Blogger Count Screwloose said...

I agree. It's not really fair to comment about someone's occupation until you've spent some time in their shoes.

So, in the interest of trying to see things from the other side, may I tell you about Tonight's Special and suggest that you eat me?


Saturday, April 28, 2007 6:36:00 PM  

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