You know the expression “can’t talk and chew gum at the same time?” Well I’ve got a long list of activities I can’t do while talking, the least of which involves chewing gum. And after last night’s dinner fiasco, I’ll surely need to add pouring ketchup to the roster.
My wife and I had decided to grab an inexpensive bite at a local eatery. When my burger and fries arrived, I reached for the ketchup bottle. It happened to be the old fashioned type: glass, with a screw-on cap. Ordinarily, I’d ensure the top had been tightened before I commenced shaking the bottle. But I was focused on the story I’d begun telling. It involved the latest outrages committed by a lawyer I consider my arch enemy. As I heatedly informed Sophia how the ambulance chaser once again had confused the word “ethics” for “espionage” and made blatantly false accusations about yours truly in court papers, I simply picked up the ketchup bottle and gave it a vigorous shake.
Someone before me hadn’t properly twisted the cap. On my backswing, the bottle top together with a significant stream of ketchup shot out … over my shoulder and onto the chest of the startled young woman sitting in the booth behind us. Of course I didn’t realize it at the time, being caught up in my tale. The first inkling I received of something amiss occurred a few seconds later, when I suddenly noticed an irate lumberjack (in girth if not necessarily profession) hovering over our table with his heavily bespattered, shell-shocked companion at his side. “Paul Bunyan” looked ready, willing and able to beat me to a pulp until my hamburger and I became indistinguishable from each other. Yet once I figured out my contribution to his ire, I could hardly blame him.
I felt mortified, and I apologized profusely. Thankfully, the sincerity of my contrition, aided no doubt by the fifty dollar bill I also handed over for “dry cleaning,” succeeded in appeasing both the man and my inadvertent victim. The pair, together with my Ulysses S. Grant, returned to their booth.
By the time our dinner ended, I still felt guilty over my boneheaded maneuver. Consequently, I stopped at Paul Bunyan’s table on our way out, apologized again, and offered to buy dessert for the two of them. His significant other told me the gesture wasn’t necessary and that I’d done enough already. But my conscience didn’t agree. I insisted. Alas, as I turned round to look for their waitress, I collided with a server carrying a platter full of entrees. Following Murphy’s Law, he lost his balance … and dropped his entire platter onto the already-begrimed lap of Paul Bunyan’s date.
Needless to say, I bought dessert as well as the couple’s entire dinner. I also parted with another Ulysses S. Grant. So much for an inexpensive night out.
Ulysses S. Grant, peacemaker