I’m on holiday today so here’s one from the 2003 archive, in memory of a much-loved friend. Normal service resumed next week.
The scene: a reasonably well-to-do restaurant in downtown Boston. Outside, a number of ironwork tables, largely unoccupied. In one corner, separated from the street corner by an iron railing, sit our thirty-somethings – Karin, Carole, Shane, Jane and Jon, who are looking largely content despite the hour it took to find a seafood restaurant and the final indignity of being unable to discover the way in. A robust, humorous waiter has already taken the orders, which include two bowls of Gazpacho soup – because it was there, largely, and if you have to ask why, you’d better not know. Cut to:
Jon’s voice – narrating: I’d never had Gazpacho soup before, or at least I don’t think I had. It seemed like the right thing to do.
Waiter arrives with two bowls, sets them before Jon and Jane. Zoom past Jane to Jon, conversing with others as he picks up his spoon and stirs it around the bowl, inquisitively, before scooping his first mouthful.
When it arrived it looked absolutely delicious. I plunged my spoon into the bowl, heaped with liquidized tomatoes, peppers and onions, and lobbed an oversized spoonful into my mouth.
Jon nods his approval and starts to chew. Close in on a variety of facial expressions, which blot out background to fill screen. Follow actions as they are described:
It was delicious – so I thought. But as the food turned over in my mouth, I was faced with the experience of something going very wrong. I bit on something hard, crunching it between my teeth before I could stop myself. Oh no, I winced. I’ve broken a filling.
Jon reaches into his mouth and removes something as camera backs away and shows expressions of others, still conversing, oblivious. Lip sync narration with Jon’s profile, while keeping focused on faces as expressions turn from interest to horror.
Jon’s voice, narrating: Look, I said, depositing two small, tomato-ey fragments of green glass onto my palm and holding it out for all to see.
Carole: Oh my God!
Karin: What *is* that?
Jon’s voice: It’s glass, I said, to the horror of everyone sitting at the table. I decided it would be a good time to go find the manager.
Looking a bit uneasy now, Jon pushes away his chair and stands up, almost thoughtfully walking back to the main restaurant. As he arrives at the door, the waiter emerges. No sound is needed to explain the interaction between Jon and the waiter – the crumpling into incredulity and fear on the waiter’s face as he turns and goes back inside, leaving Jon to return to the table. Fade to black.
When the manager arrived, she was highly apologetic, but just the tiniest bit skeptical – after all, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to have the idea about lobbing some glass into the soup in the hope of a free meal. Slowly it dawned that this was no set-up, and the skepticism turned to fear – this was the land of the free litigation after all – and then relief as I said that nobody would be suing anybody. Unless I found my stomach lining had been irreparably damaged. We had quite a good old chat in the end, and were promised various things, including a free lunch for me (hurrah! I was having the lobster!) and free desserts for everyone.
Things started getting silly then – the manager said she would name the Gazpacho soup after me – “Jon’s Gazpacho” and we all agreed it would be a good thing that the restaurant obtained and played a copy of the CD that started all this, as a penance, for a week. The rest of the meal passed relatively smoothly, even with me ripping a hole in my thumb as I attempted to crack one of the lobster claws, and the desserts were delightful.
Unfortunately, I have suffered no ill effects since, so there doesn’t really appear to be a case for litigation! Next time, I’ll have them!