12920 Brookpark Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44130
by Beau Cadiyo
We’d just gotten out of a go-karting session and there was a giddiness present of otherwise entirely responsible people who had just played hooky for the first time in months. Youth, we were learning, really is wasted on the young. We are apparently in the beginning stages of trying to hold on to it.
As if to drive the point home, Noreen, the 45-ish smiling waitress, arrived with old sailor tattoos on both forearms. The smeared ink implied that she’d gotten them when she was an immortal 17-year-old. I silently wondered if the girls and Asim were already using wrinkle creams.
First, the coleslaw arrived independently as an appetizer. Asim said, “That’s stupid,” and he was correct. It was mayonnaise-heavy and the cabbage was too finely shredded –more confetti than tickertape.
The bread on my tuna melt was well buttered, but the rye was almost entirely masked by salt from an unidentifiable source. The tuna was lightly mayonnaised, with celery flecks here and there, and they used two different types of cheese. However, the cheese was pre-packaged and had not been exposed to enough heat to alter the indentations of the plastic wrapping. The wilted pickle slices, crinkle-cut, lazed on the plate; the “Famous” onion rings may have been famous, but it wasn’t for being exceptional. The highlight was the elbow straw provided for my Wild Cherry Pepsi, with the pleasant service coming in a close second.
Asim, Shelly and Emily enjoyed their Big Boys, although Shelly’s didn’t come with special sauce ON the burger whereas Asim’s did. She made a little bit of a fuss out of it, then backed off; I realized that it was the second time I got the distinct impression that she, a black woman, received inferior service to someone else in the party. The immediate tendency was to blame racism, but Asim is Muslim, and in this America I’d expect him to be treated even more poorly. Brandy’s chicken sandwich arrived, and really was “Beyond the Bun.” The gimmick was a clever idea, but perhaps a bit impractical for eating with one’s hands. It did, however, draw attention away from the earlier problem.
In the beginning, it felt extremely teenage, all six of us packed around the table, with toddler’s mazes, coloring pictures and cheap crayons cheerfully provided by the hostess (and Sharpie markers found in Emily’s purse). In the end, when we stood up, we were six more law students with reasonably certain, bright futures, leaving behind pictures carefully colored, shaded even, mazes completed, bills paid.