Some Very Important Folks Visit My Diner

Mirthology column, 1st run Wednesday 22 February 1989 in the Arkansas Democrat

By Ben S. Pollock

Copyright 1989 Ben S. Pollock

Sometimes, days off are best spent reading. I took a recent break from work to finish a long novel I had been plodding through for weeks.

The story begins with a Bombay-to-London jet being blown up high over the English Channel. Two people miraculously survive, and the book details how they deal with the ensuing celebrity.

Ceci Davidson illustration, 1989
"The Fertile Crescent was deserted, understandable for the time of day." Ceci Davidson illustration, 1989

I hit the last page in midafternoon, and to celebrate I donned my Panama and walked from my home, the Bengalow, to a nearby café, the Fertile Crescent.

During the three-block walk I decided that someday I would read the prototype of the surviving-a-29,000-foot-fall fiction genre, “The Satanic Verses,” by Salman Rushdie.

The Fertile Crescent was deserted, understandable for the time of day. I took a corner table. The quiet, however, was not going to last a minute more.

“Garcon, table for three. The name is Mose,” grunted an older man who entered. His voice carried but was surprisingly soft. He carried an exquisite walking stick.

The waiter looked at Mose askance, because the place was empty save for me and my hat.

The gent chose a large round table in the middle, under a skylight.

“Be sure to show my brothers over when they arrive. One is Jess; he’s got a beard. The other is Mo; I haven’t seen him in ages, or I’d tell you what he looked like. Mo won’t even let his picture be taken.”

The descriptions were unnecessary for just then two men walking in, arguing.

“I saw the parking place first. That why I deserved it,” said a bearded fellow, Jess apparently.

“You always take life too seriously. You could’ve driven your rig around the block again, and maybe a place would have opened up,” said a curly haired bloke, obviously Mo.

“If you still had your camel, Mo, you could’ve left it on the sidewalk,” Jess said.

“Don’t dare me to repeating my Jess-and-his-donkey jokes,” Mo said.

“Boys, boys. Simmer down and sit over here,” Mose said. “Garcon, quit hiding behind the bar and bring us menus.”

“I didn’t see your ‘Veda,’ Mose,” Jess said. “And where’s Aaron?”

“He’s sitting in the rig, because I parked by a fire hydrant,” Mose said.

“You must still hate feeding nickels to parking meters,” Mo said.

Mo ordered a cheeseburger, Jess took a bacon cheeseburger and Mose asked for a California avocado-and-sprout salad. Their table was bathed in sunlight.

“Thanks for coming, boys, though I’m sorry we’re not getting along any better,” Mose said. “Now let’s plan that surprise party for Dad.”

“The idea is great, but what are we celebrating?” Mo asked.

“His birthday, of course,” Jess said. “Mine is real important, and Dad’s should be bigger.”

Mose laughed. “No one knows when Dad was born. It’s his big anniversary we are honoring. After all, the time I led the gang across the water and when I climbed the mountain are great anniversaries, and Dad’s should be grander.”

“Just because you’re the oldest, Mose, doesn’t mean you’re right,” said the brash Mo, youngest of the three. “Every day is an anniversary for Dad.”

“My point exactly,” Jess chimed in. “Dad always told me he loved me best, and I say birthday.”

“Geez, Jess, Dad just said that because you’re the middle son. Middle children always get coddled,” Mo said. “Besides, Dad said I was the favorite.”

Once Mose claimed he was his father’s pet, the bickering grew annoying. I gave the waiter some money and bought the men a round of Nirvanas.

They looked toward me and smiled appreciatively. I tipped the brim of my Panama. Mo wanted his cocktail straight, Jess on the rocks, and Mose wanted the rim salted. The trio were silent while they ate and drank.

“Dad’s favorite day — and the one we should surprise him on — is the Sabbath,” Mo said, and the others, surprisingly, nodded in agreement. “Shall we say two weeks from Friday?”

“Nothing doing,” Mose said. “Saturday.”

“No way,” Jess said. “Sunday.”

The ensuing argument shook the windows. After one of the brothers — I couldn’t tell which — thundered, “If only we could have settled this when we were mortal.” I tried again to pacify them.

I ordered three Moon Pies.

The chocolate calmed them, and soon they were happily talking about a three-day bash and to include Dad in the final planning. Having all three sons together for a few days would be enough of a surprise for him.

“There’s at least one thing we can thank Dad for,” Mose said as they were leaving the café. “We’ve all been blessed with great tans.”

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