Monday, July 23, 2007

Bob’s Big Boy

12920 Brookpark Road
Cleveland, Ohio 44130
216-433-4660
www.bigboy.com
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.

Bob's Big Boy in Cleveland


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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dunkin’ Donuts

17801 Bagley Rd
Middleburg Heights, OH 44130
440-243-8787
www.dunkindonuts.com

Bite: for cheese like plastic, you can't beat Dunkin'.

by Beau Cadiyo

Mike called Brett his girlfriend, but said she was a player and didn’t want to commit to any concrete description of their relationship. They’d jointly planned the trip and booked the hotel room that eight of us crowded into. We got ice and started drinking there, and then we went to the Irish festival. By midnight Brett and Mike weren’t talking, Georgette had picked up a musician and I’d picked up nothing, even though there were plenty of pretty, belligerently drunk girls around. At 12:30 a.m. Brett and I were sitting on the curb outside the hotel. She was crying, and Mike was standing thirty yards away with everyone else, waiting for her to go inside so he could walk with them to a bar. I half expected him to find some Englishmen to festa.

Brett, Bill and I all ended up at Dunkin Donuts the next morning. The blueberry bagel with egg and cheese wasn’t as good as at Lucky’s, but it had a plastic-chemical quality that I liked – it wasn’t good, but it was satisfying in a way that might be admired only in America. The egg portion was thin and flecked with pepper (I think); the cheese was fake, but melted well, squeezing up through the bagel hole and solidifying uncomfortably on my right forefinger. When I peeled it off it left a thin, greasy layer which mostly wiped off on my sock, but a bit lingered in the crack between my nail and skin. For a moment I thought that I should lick my finger to get it off, but that would have been a little too desperate, so I left it. The bagel itself smelled (and tasted) so strongly of blueberries that Brett asked about it from the front seat. My hazelnut coffee was well-flavored but a bit too sweet, and a lot too hot. I ended up dumping it out two hours later.

We listened to a live CD made by one of the “Irish” bands we’d seen the night before and laughed at the jokes they apparently told every show. When Brett dropped us off she was clearly disturbed again. They were both wonderful people. We all could have had such a good time together. It was pretty to think so, anyway.


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Friday, July 6, 2007

The Oberlin Market

22 Carpenter Court
440-774-8401

Bite: Like the 1960s: so much promise, so much disappointment.

by Beau Cadiyo

Prevented from ordering sandwiches at the Feve, which doesn’t serve weekend lunch until 3 p.m., Lara talked us through a graceful exit and we continued down the street. A small sign caught our eye, and we followed it between two buildings and out into an oppressively hot parking lot, bearing right. Through the “market,” which was shelves of carefully arranged products, and over a sneeze-guarded fridge, a youngish woman took our orders, armpit hair sprouting proudly. She was very pleasant, wanting to make sure that she knew where we were sitting so she could find us.
Outside, we found the picnic table too hot to sit at. Inside, we found Zen Blocks, a non-competitive game from the 1960s, which proved too difficult to play casually. The waitress brought our drinks as we were playing backgammon. My iced chai came in a mason jar, which pleased me. I generally approve of this brand of utilitarianism. Then, when she brought my water, it was in a mason jar with a drinking handle, which set my jaw. Something about it struck me as inherently poseur-ish. It was an “authentic” touch, a tromp de l’oeil, a fa├žade of hippiness that middle-aged suburban women who had no intention of giving up their SUVs but wanted to “experience” Oberlin would approve of excitedly while they misremembered the glory of the past. My lips thinned in indignation. Then, Lara realized that she lost her phone somewhere when we were taking pictures and couldn’t concentrate.
The sandwiches arrived fifteen minutes after I asked after them – they took so long that Lara suggested they might be making fresh cheese. Idea: pesto grilled cheese with veggies, Lara’s with chips, mine with salad. Reality: small slices of bread, slightly stuffed with pesto, cheese, tomato, and cucumber, and apparently lightly grilled, although the bottoms of both of our sandwiches seemed soaked through with some unidentifiable oily liquid. My salad was outstanding – sunflower seeds, greens and house vinaigrette. After waiting so long, hunger was a good spice, but eating at the back of our minds was that we waited so long for so little.
I paid up and we went from the market into the parking lot, then back through Oberlin to look for Lara’s phone. Something felt oppressively, unpleasantly unsatisfying, but we wanted to be positive about the experience. In the end, like the 1960s, there was much promise and so, so much disappointment.


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