There is something astounding about the human brain that not only allows us to forget, but also lets us half remember.
My buddy Conny was in town for a meeting and we went out after work/meetings, played 18 holes of golf and then had dinner at Hooters. In the good old days, Conny coming in town meant us both skipping out of meetings/work at noon, golfing, hanging out with some of the chicks at a bar who also were in town for meetings and who also bailed at noon to drink margaritas. Later on, we would go to the nudie bar. (If Conny’s wife is reading this, Conny would always go home before the nudie bar. If my wife is reading this, Doug would always go home before the nudie bar.) Either we are wiser now or they keep better attendance at those meetings.
It’s while we were eating wings that I was reminded about mostly forgetting. Or half remembering.
We had a job in Charleston, WV that lasted about six weeks. We’d drive down early Monday, stay for the week, and try to sneak out in the early afternoon on Friday. There were between 5 – 10 people working at a time. In those situations, you all end up waking, working, eating, drinking and sleeping together (not sleeping together, at least in my case.) Eating together is painful. I can eat the same thing at the same place every day. Other people have taste and require a variation in their diet. You also need to be able to eat quickly so that you can run back to work and watch your fabricator drop expensive stuff on other expensive stuff. Where variation and quick crossed paths was at a restaurant called Chef Dan’s. It was close to the jobsite, quick service and had a decent sized menu. Two items on the menu were wings and salad. Wings first and last with salad in the middle.
I like chicken wings. There is such a variation in preparation and sauces that almost all wings are different. Most wings are pretty blah. Deep fry and dip in Red Hot. I like Red Hot, but it’s definitely a crutch in the sauce world. Arbuckle’s in Boston had good wings. Someday I’ll make it Duff’s. I’m no wing purist, but there are some “cooks” that think you can take baked chicken and dip it in BBQ sauce and voila!
Unless there is a picture in the menu or some other sucker close to your table who ordered them before you, you’ll never know what you are getting until they drop the plastic basket in front of you (with the bonus five rubbery celery sticks!) It’s a crap shoot.
At Chef Dan’s it was more crap than shoot when it came to wings. I actually asked the waitress if the wings were good. She enthusiastically said yes. I don’t know why I trusted her food knowledge. Especially since the Trevor salad incident.
Salad in the Middle
Trevor is a pacifist vegan with a hidden rage. His leftist political views are only out curdled by his deadly reaction to milk products. Trevor looked a lot like Jesus, spoke a lot like Jesus, but would rip out your trachea if you pissed him off. He would try to rip out your trachea, but mainly you just end up with some resin smears on your neck. Due to his diet of grass and dirt, he wasn’t a brawny lad.
Trevor was with us on the installation in Charleston. He worked with us, but due to his strict diet, he requested a room in another hotel with a kitchenette so that he could prepare his own not meat, not milk, not tasty food. What this meant was that we didn’t see that much of Trevor outside of the job site. He’d wisp in at dawn and fade away at night. At lunch, he would sulk off with his camping mess kit that I assume was filled with green and brown stuff.
On day, Trevor went with us to lunch. Perhaps the Co-op was closed in honor of Howard Lyman’s birthday or maybe Trevor left his Swiss Army Knife with spork attachment in the kitchenette at the hotel. Either way, he joined us for lunch at Chef Dan’s. Trevor grumbled and sighed through the menu. I don’t blame him. Everything was coated or dipped in or wrapped or soaked in a meat or milk product. (I’m not completely insensitive. I think vegans that don’t eat meat or milk for social/political reasons are idiots. If your body can’t process milk or meat, I feel bad for you (as I suck the ice cream out the bottom of a bacon wrapped cone.)) Trevor questioned the waiter about the salad:
“Does this salad have cheese on it?”
“No cheese at all?”
“Sir. There is no cheese on the salad.”
Fifteen minutes later, Trevor’s salad came out, covered in Parmesan cheese. Trevor was pissed:
“Excuse me. What is this white stuff?”
“That is Parmesan cheese.”
“You said there was no cheese on the salad.”
“Sir, that is dry cheese. It’s not real cheese.”
“Is there milk in it?”
“I would guess so.”
“Then it’s fucking cheese!”
“But it’s dry.”
Trevor got a new salad with no wet cheese or dry cheese and he never went out to lunch with us again. The moral of this middle part is never trust the wait staff at Chef Dan’s.
So I trusted the waitress’ judgment about Chef Dan’s wings and ordered six of them to go with a BLT. I ordered the wings to come out first. As the basket dropped in front of me, I knew I was screwed. They were small, scrawny, un-breaded and drenched in some industrial canned version of sickly sweet BBQ sauce. I was disappointed, but starving. I’ll eat anything. Or so I thought.
I took a few bites from the first wing. The sauce was horrible. And the breading had a very odd texture. My brain played connect the dots with my tongue for a few seconds as I chewed the wings and swallowed. My eyes were included in the dot connecting and they were instructed to look at the un-breaded wing for the stuff that was giving it such an odd texture that might trick my mouth into thinking they might be breaded. Partial breading? Burnt outer skin?
Feathers. My half eaten wing had feathers on it.
I’m not talking about A feather or A COUPLE of feathers. IT WAS ALMOST FULLY FEATHERED. The wing sauce had coated it enough to hide the feathers. In an instant, I went from starving to nauseous. I dropped the half eaten wing and spit the remnants in my napkin. I poked around in the basket and saw that the other wings were covered with feathers as well. Deep brown BBQ sauce and feathers. I don’t know how I could have missed them. When the waitress came back we spoke as such:
“Um, Miss? These wings are bad.”
“Oh, what’s wrong?”
“They are covered in feathers.”
“Oh, really.” (She didn’t even look at them.) “Do you want me to get you some others?”
I didn’t eat much of the BLT I ordered. I looked on the inside for feathers to amuse my lunchmates and my stomach. It didn’t help.
After that, I didn’t eat wings for about three months. I couldn’t get the texture out of my mind. I also couldn’t eat anything with sweet BBQ sauce. But, after those three months, I only half remembered the incident. I remembered it happening. If I thought about it really hard, I’d feel sick, but when I was eating wings, I would just choose not to not fully remember the feathers. Our brain is a wonderful creature. There are many things in life that if we were forced to fully remember them that we’d never function. Too many heartbreaks and deaths. There are a shitload of injustices and murders and rapes going on right now and if you tried to comprehend it all, you’d never get out of bed. (I guess there are people who don’t get out of bed. Maybe that’s why.)
In the end, we half remember or mostly forget, and get out of bed, get in the shower and go to work.
We then leave work. Meet Conny for golf. Go to Hooters. Order wings.
AND THE WINGS HAVE FEATHERS ON THEM!!!
In three months it will be November and maybe by then I will half forget again. Until then, I’ll be in bed.
Augh, Chef Dan's...remember the French Onion soup with puff pastry? That had lots of cheese!
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