Unsophisticated Musings

28 Sep 2006

Restaurant guy: "Mr. Pardeau is looking for more than a promise to pay. He's looking for a kind of depth in your financial sea. Let's make this easier. Suppose you get the reservation and suppose you come down and we honor it. What might you order?"

Telemacher: "I might like the duck."

Pardeau: "You can't."

Restaurant guy:"You can't."

Telemacher:"Why?"

Pardeau: "With ziss financial statement, you think you can have ze duck?"

(I'm not sure if that's perfectly accurate, but it's pretty close. It's from Steve Martin's L.A. Story .)

* * *

Years ago, I worked in a glass castle (see blog posts from Mar 31 and April 4). I reported to many bosses, which (oddly) has been the norm throughout my career. (I wouldn't know what it's like to report to just one boss, as most folks do.) I think I may have nicknamed one of these bosses Mickey Mouse in one of those old posts. But, today, I was thinking about a lower-level one; let's call her Vassar Girl, or VG. Maybe I've talked of her before as well. (I've told damn near every story in my little brain by now, so inevitably I'll start repeating things.)

VG dated a string of men while I worked there, and she used to return from weekend getaways and longer vacations with tales of either pure bliss or Ellington-esque Solitude. She dated a lot of doctors, for some reason (and I think finally married one of them). So, many of the tales included lavish destinations (locally and even internationally). If they weren't in some villa in Tuscany, they were dining at some Spanish Continental restaurant in town (the kind of place no one patronizes without a couple of hundred in disposable cash).

After one such tale, I simply couldn't get over all of the weird foods she'd eaten. Again, my upbringing comes into play for this type of conversation. In the Midwest, there's only really one thing to eat: Barbecue. Out here (Pennsylvania), barbecue is so novel, people actually dress up whenever they eat it. They'll put on all "red, white, and blue" outfits, and maybe even don a cowboy hat -- hell, let's throw a few hay bales around the back patio while we're at it! Come to think of it, I should have included more info on barbecue in my Tales of the Midwest posts. Maybe I'll revise a thing or two, now that I'm thinking of it.

But, I remember just listening to VG tell us about her Spanish Continental dinner out with that surgeon, and every damn thing sounded foreign to me. ("Langosta Rellena," "Bistec A Las Brasas," "Mariscada Ajillo.") Well, admittedly, it was foreign; it was from Spain -- all Catalan. But, the food names rolled off her toungue so easily and naturally, it was as though she'd eaten a bologna sandwich and some Lay's potato chips, then washed it down with a Mountain Dew.

My point, people, is that I get to feeling so damned unsophisticated sometimes. In fact, as memory serves, I even remarked to VG after that culinary regaling, "Damn, VG, you have such a sophisticated palate."

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly happy to go through my entire life without dining at some pricey purveyor of putrid pesci. For the most part, seafood grosses me out, in fact. I don't enjoy eating slimy tentacles, feelers, or roe. I once tried a mussel and the sensation was like chewing some vague small animal stuffed inside of a condom (lubricated, and ribbed for her pleasure, if you must know). Why people slobber all over themselves at the mere mention of oysters and so forth is beyond me.

But, I sometimes feel something similar in other areas of life as well (similar to the general unsophistication, not to the claustrophobic and existential hell of being a small critter trapped inside of a prophylactic). There's a classic Blues Brothers moment when Elwood asks a woman what kind of music they usually have there, and she replies: "Oh, we got both kinds. We got country and western." Well, that's close to what you had in the Midwest, back in my day. I couldn't abide the twangy crap, so I became quite a connoisseur of rock -- and not modern rock or alternative rock, etc. I'm talking about classic rock -- Brown Sugar, Roundabout, Nights in White Satin, Never Been Any Reason, Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress, What Is and What Should Never Be, Ridin' the Storm Out, Paranoid, Back in the Saddle Again, La Do Da, Rosalita, etc. Hell, I could go on for an hour with that line of thinking. In fact, I still love a lot of that stuff, as much for the memories as the music.

It's different, I suppose, when you approach something without the memories. Not necessarily good or bad, mind you ... just different. For example, here's something that may come as a bit of a shock to anyone reading this: Until last week, I didn't believe I'd ever heard a song by XTC. To me, this wasn't so shocking because I'd never heard of them prior to a year or so ago, when I began blogging. But, in the small circle of blogs that I developed a habit of frequenting, there have been regular mentions of this band for ages. Tons of mentions. Like, all the time -- everyone. One guy even has that for his username.

So, finally, I thought to myself, "Damn, I should really check these guys out. I must be missing something." So, I picked up Oranges & Lemons, which seemed to be their major CD, and popped it on. My first reaction was, "Okay, this is good stuff. It's like Tears for Fears doing Zappa." Then the second tune came on and I recognized them. Our local indie station, WYEP, plays Mayor of Simpleton all the time. It's ironic, I guess (in the context of this post about how unsophisticated I am), that that was the song I recognized. The words: "When their logic grows cold and all thinking gets done, you'll be warm in the arms of the mayor of simpleton."

It was somewhat of a relief to recognize a tune by them. One starts to believe that one has lived in a cave for so long -- but it's not entirely true. So, XTC may grow on me if I give them more of a chance -- which I'm happy to do. But, I don't think I'll ever acquire a taste for seafood.

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