Thursday, August 21, 2008

Watching A Tall Skinny Guy Eat a Chicken Pot Pie

It was lunch time.
We were in Boston.
Down near Faneuil Hall.
Durgin Park.
Very old restaurant.
Tourist place.
But locals like it too.

We walked in.
Went upstairs.
Sat down at a long white table.
Big white room.
Mouthy waitress.
Long menu.

I ordered clam chowder.
He ordered the prime rib.

A guy walks in.
Older guy.
Tall guy.
Skinny guy.
Plaid shirt.
Khaki work pants.

He sits down near us.
Waitress asks him if wants the usual.
He says yes.
But wants her to read the order to him.
She reads it.
Chicken pot pie.
Side of peas.
Side of carrots.
Side of mashed potatoes.
Side of chicken gravy.
Two extra plates.
Iced tea.

We eat our food.
The tall skinny guy waits.
His hands are folded.
His hands are resting on the table.

The waitress brings his food.

Now the ritual begins.
He unfolds his hands.
Puts the napkin in his lap.
Puts an empty plate directly in front of him.
Spreads the mashed potatoes evenly over the plate.
Then puts the cooked carrots on top of the mashed potatoes.
Then the peas on top of the carrots.
Then with his knife and fork,
he carefully removes the crust
from the chicken potpie.
He puts the crust on the other extra plate.
Then he pours the pot pie filling on the vegetables.
The side of chicken gravy goes on next.
Finally he puts the pie crust on top of everything.
He takes a deep breath.
He looks at his creation.
Turns the plate slightly to the right.
Then to the left.
Picks up his fork with his right hand.
Then in a blur of metal and food,
he consumes it all in under a minute.
Sated, he takes another deep breath.
Takes a sip of iced tea.
Leaves a tip.
And stands up and walks away.

What did I just watch?

A tall skinny guy eating?
A food ritual?
A sacrifice?

These days there are lots of saints, gods and closeted serial killers walking the streets. It is hard for them to compete with reality TV and viral videos. But sometimes you can see them doing almost ordinary things. Eating food in ritualstic ways. Reading newspapers upside down. Sitting on park benches waiting for the squirrels to feed them. Shoplifting diapers, malt liquor and beef jerky. Look for them in the corners of your eyes. That is where they hide. Not quite in plain sight. According to the most recent statistics there are around 108 active serial killers, 666 gods and 36 saints active in the average metropolitan area. Watch for them.


Blogger Bill said...

I miss so much!

Durgin Park?

Great rhythm!

2:12 PM, August 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Thanks Bill. Durgin Park is a restaurant in Boston that is in an old warehouse in Boston. It is about 200 years old and some of the waitresses are 3rd generation employees.

3:33 PM, August 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Bill... Thanks!

3:34 PM, August 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Oops Bill....yes it is Durgin Park!

3:38 PM, August 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Bill...I just added the line "Durgin Park". I had meant to include it. Thanks for jogging my memory!

3:42 PM, August 21, 2008  
Blogger Patry Francis said...

I've eaten there before, but even if I hadn't, I would have SEEN the place perfectly from your poem. There's something particularly fascinating about food rituals. Your cadences capture the obsession.

6:11 PM, August 30, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Thanks for your comments Patry! Durgin Park is truly one of a kind.

1:18 PM, September 02, 2008  
Anonymous damien said...

I think I remember this moment...was I there?

11:34 AM, September 16, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...


12:05 PM, September 16, 2008  
Blogger david kramer said...

really great poem...makes me hungry.

1:38 PM, October 21, 2008  
Blogger Fred Garber said...

Thanks David! You should go there sometime.

1:54 PM, October 21, 2008  

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