Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Bubble Bath, Part 20

  Editor’s Note: After a crazed morning of running about Bubble’s Pleasure Palace, we finally get our act together and head out the door to begin our adventures…

  We head to some part of Philly (no idea) where Bubbles’ fave pedicure place could be found. (Apparently they do something exquisite there involving hot rocks. I did not seek any further detail.) We toss her out in front of the building, then drive just a block or so away to the illustrious IHOP serving this particular neighborhood.

  Upon entering this fine establishment, we should have known right away that something was amiss. The serving hostess looked like she may have arrived in this country on the Mayflower, poor thing. But she still had some energy left, grabbing two menus and creaking her way into one of the dining rooms.

  A room which I immediately hated, because a small child, strapped in a highchair that clearly wasn’t restraining him enough, was banging on his table while his mother (or guardian or kidnapper) was completely ignoring him. And, of course, the Mayflower Madam seated us right next to the miniature Ringo Starr. Once the little urchin realized he had an audience, he kicked it up a notch. Mom continued to pretend that she had never given birth and was not responsible for his actions.

  The pounding continued for some time, with the expression on Terry’s face changing from mild irritation to “we are three seconds away from you having to bail me out of jail”. During the lengthy drum solo, the server supposedly assigned to our table chose to remain hidden from view. Perhaps she didn’t want to upstage the budding young drummer, but most likely she just didn’t care about things like timeliness and good tips.

  The drummer finally took a break and went to hang out with his groupies and try to score some dope. Decades later, the server finally came wandering in, looking as if the weight of her world made it unbearable for her to smile or brush her hair. She indifferently took our drink orders and wandered off again. If we had been thinking clearly, we would have equipped her with a GPS tracker before she left.

  Then Mayflower came back in, leading another innocent couple into the bowels of Hell. She promptly seated them on the other side of the diminutive drummer (who appeared to be gearing up for another session), despite other available tables, proving that Mayflower was, in fact, Satan’s bitch. Once the new sacrificial family was seated, May then marched to some other room, presumably to drink the blood of virgins.

  I watched the new couple briefly, as they excitedly perused their menus in anticipation of a glorious and refreshing meal. I thought about warning them that if they planned on eating today, they might not be in the best place, because the wait staff was totally lackadaisical and mostly AWOL. Just then, another server appeared, perfectly coiffed and smiling. She rushed to the new couple, welcomed them like long-lost family members (there might have even been hugs, I couldn’t see all that clearly because Tiny Drummer was flailing away again, his arms a blur), took their drink order, raced to retrieve the beverages, returning with them in 2.5 seconds, and then began taking the actual food order with sparkling and witty professionalism.

  This wasn’t fair. Why did we always get stuck with the servers who have no idea what their job description might be?

  Meanwhile, Mayflower, still making her way out of the room because she was ancient and being outpaced by dust bunnies rolling across the floor, was stopped in her tracks by loud bellowing from the drummer’s indifferent mother. May turned to see who was making all the racket, realized that the idiot woman with the unruly child was demanding her attention, sighed, and began hobbling back in our direction.

  Eventually Mayflower made it to the adjacent table (I’m surprised she remembered where she was going when she finally got there), leaned on the table to catch her breath, glanced with dismay at the still-pounding child, then turned her weary eyes to the shrieking harridan. “Yes?”

  Medusa: “I want you to move us to another table.”

  Mayflower, somewhat perplexed (did little Damien not find the acoustics of the room satisfactory for his wretched drumming?): “Is there something wrong?”

  Medusa: “I don’t want to sit here. Move me.”

  Mayflower, knowing full well that everybody in this room already wanted Medusa to die a painful death, didn’t really see the point in pissing off a whole other room of patrons and did not relish performing the relocation: “Has your service not been satisfactory?”

  Medusa: “It’s been fine. I just want to move. I have my own reasons.”

  Then this societal hemorrhage actually had the gall to turn and glare at ME.

  What the hell? I hadn’t done anything. Yes, I had given her looks of complete hatred and disgust, but I hadn’t said a word, even when her demon offspring had hurled a spoon against the wall, nearly decapitating another diner. This was unreal.

  Mayflower sighed. “Fine. Follow me.” She turned once more, bones creaking, and began to shuffle out of the room. Medusa snatched up her startled hellion, glared at me once more, then fell in line behind the Little Engine That Shouldn’t. Eons later, they finally made it out the door. Two minutes after that, the incessant drumming started up again in a distant setting. Three people thundered by our room, headed for the exit and wiping white gravy off their chins.

  Our own worthless server eventually made another appearance, lugging our two glasses, which she clunked down on the table. (Getting them wrong, of course. I quietly moved the glasses to the correct consumer.) The ice was already half-melted, indicating the glasses had been sitting somewhere for quite some time. Perhaps our server, partaking in a smoke break, stumbled across them sitting on the sidewalk outside and decided they would work just fine for our table.

  Our server, now christened Gertrude for no other reason than I’m already tired of typing “our server”, lethargically pulled out a pad of paper, clicked a pen into the ready position, and then just stood there, waiting.

  Okay, apparently we needed to place our order now. Thanks for the excellent communication skills, Gertie.

  Terry made his first attempt at a selection. Gertrude batted this down, mumbling something about his choice being on the breakfast menu, and we had rolled into the official lunch menu, having been sitting here since the Gettysburg Address. Terry pointed at something else, and Gertrude nodded slightly to indicate that this would be an acceptable alternative. She scribbled and then looked at me.

  Weak with hunger, I limply fingered something non-breakfasty and received clearance. Gertrude pivoted and marched away, surprising me by moving rather quickly. Perhaps it was time for another smoke break, since it had been a whole 10 minutes since her last one.

  Next we had what looked like a manager type staggering into the room. (Perhaps he was trying to find out what Medusa could possibly have found offensive in here, prompting her to sally forth and terrorize other parts of the building.) He made a beeline to a table in the corner, where some guy had been barking on his phone the entire time we had been here. (Phone Guy really loved using profanity. Not that it bothers me, per se, but dude, how many times can you say “truck dat” in the same conversation?)

  Phone Guy was also one of those people who don’t understand the rudeness of continuing to carry on a conversation with someone who is NOT here, when there are people who ARE here, like the glum-looking buddies at his table or the manager standing at the end of his table and clearing his throat. Phony finally told “dawg” to hold up. He pointed his finger at one of his buddies, who instantly leapt up and allowed the manager to slide into his place on the booth.

  The following conversation took place in very hushed tones. If they hadn’t been so subdued about it, I wouldn’t have cared or tried to listen. But the subterfuge got my attention. Besides, I had already played with every single thing on the table and I was bored out of my skull.

  Phony:  “Sup?”

  Manager: “I think I can do it. But I normally don’t like to do this in the store.”

  Phony: “You want the money or not?”

  Manager, briefly looking around, as if concerned that someone might run in the room at any moment and strike him with an improvised weapon: “Yes. But we’re very busy right now. Might take a minute.”

  Phony, muting “dawg” on his phone, who had chosen that moment to start babbling about “snatch” to somebody we couldn’t see and probably wouldn’t like: “How much?”

  Manager, super quiet now: “200 dollars.”

  Phony, un-muting “dawg” and waving away the manager in a dismissive manner: “Done. Do it.”

  OMG. There was nothing on the menu that could even begin to approach that amount of money. Something else was going on. Clearly, I had just been privy to a negotiation with dubious implications.

  I tried to tell Terry. “Dude, I think I just overheard a drug deal.”

  Terry, abandoning the straw wrapper that he had been fiddling with: “What?” (To be fair, his ears were probably still ringing from that horrid child and his dark need for beating the hell out of diner tables.)

  Me, whispering: “Behind us. I. Think. They. Just. Made. A. Drug. Deal. Word.”

  Terry just stared at me as if I had lost my mind. Again.

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