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Sunday, April 17, 2011

EPISODE 100 - SILENCE @ TABLE 16

Sure,I've heard the rumors too. There's an interesting collective of peeps lurking in the shadows. Anxiously they're sitting in back rooms cradling espresso's and Diet Cokes...waiting - waiting for Klecko to finish his 100th Blog post so they can collect this first volume (of what they are hoping will be many) so they can pimp these observations and musings to Penguin, Harper or maybe even Chronicle.

In fact....Klecko's publicist even went as far as to elude that the 100th post should be extra special so the 1st volume of the blog would finish on a strong note. This is really important because initial projects that conclude with golden handles will always serve as a more suitable platform for sequels, and sequels mean multiple book deals.

So with 99 episodes in the rear view mirror, Klecko spent days trying to think of a definitive thread that would not only sum up the previous stories, but enhance them as well.

I think the "higher ups" were hoping for something like Klecko fighting off Nazi's, while falling in love with a mermaid, and formulating recipes that were set up acrostically and decoded by God.

It's simply not gonna happen.

If Klecko has learned one thing during his time discussing the mind set of the Food Service Worker with you, it's that people across the world hold food sacred.

I'm not going to cheapen the end of L.A.B. Volume #1 with Circus Monkey theatrics, so before I start, I just want to thank you all for your support. Your ideas and observations, they mean everything to me.

I love most of you.

With that said, sit back and enjoy this very special installment entitled....

SILENCE @ TABLE 16

FOOD - CONNECTION - COMMUNICATION

We have people all across this crazy planet, and most of them have strong opinions. Many of us have different beliefs on who God is, or even if there is a functioning deity.

Others seem more focused on politics, and how candidates from certain parties can best help their own needs.

Perception is a funny word isn't it? We all have brains, and we all have hearts, but yet we rob,torture and murder one another to align reality with our own perception.

Now I might not be the smartest kid to ever come out of District #281, but I have noticed that ever since the antiquity period, people have yearned for truth and justice and only in a few situations has this hope come to pass.

The secret in achieving self actualization is putting others first, and whats the best way to do that?

FOOD - CONNECTION - COMMUNICATION................

Today Sue McGleno and I went over to the Copperdome Restaurant for some breakfast and a chance to catch up. I have been doing baking related things on my days off for 5 weeks, so we haven't had as much personal time together.

When life gets disconnected, nothing will pull it back together like breakfast.

So when we walked into the "Dome" there was easily 10-15 people waiting in a crooked line to get a booth. As my wife forged ahead to put our name on the list, I noticed an unusual couple sitting on one of the two benches issued for customers in waiting.

The tandem was comprised of a middle aged woman and a young man who looked 16-18ish. I'm guessing they were a mother - son combo, but who knows?

I can't be sure what their ethnic origin was, but since a storytellers job is to paint a canvas for their readers, I'm going to guess they were Filipino.

The woman had her hair pulled back tight, and the remnant that hung passed the shoulders was rounded into a sphere. It looked kinda bizarre because if you saw her profile in silhouette, you'd swear she was wearing a helmet with a basketball super glued to the back of her head.

She also wore a thick-worn Irish fisherman's sweater. On most people this gray piece of vintage apparel would have come across as a stylish accent, but on this woman it just framed her as hapless.

Her shoulders were slinking heavily as if she had the weight of the world on her back.

Customers were coming and going, and nobody that crossed her sight line seemed worthy to merit her attention. Instead she just continued sitting silently and motionless.

The kid was kinda a stocky young man. He had one of those fire hydrant frames, so to be honest with you I was surprised to see him wearing a track suit hoodie.

Dude had really short hair that was cropped close to the skull, but you just got the sense that if he let it grow at all, it would be really curly.

The kids eyes were dark brown, sad puppy dog like and were completely void of energy. How rare that is for a young person, I mean if they're not going to be happy, typically they harbor something going in the opposite direction.

Hells Bells....I'll take a kid with rage over a kid with apathy any day. at least you have some emotion to work with.

This young kid seemed like maybe he'd already had a lifetime of experience. His stare was set on a morose sort of cruise control.

I'm guessing that the combination of the kids extra thick lips and rings that sprouted from each earlobe must of been more weight than his neck could bare, cuz dude just continued staring downward.

So the hostess comes and brings us back to the "extra" room where people get placed when the house is full. the only bad part of this is that the artwork was missing since experiencing our record snowfall this year, the Dome had ice damns and water burst through the ceilings and raced down the walls.

In many ways the Copperdome is like a bakers/millers museum. throughout the expansive site every inch of wall space has been covered with framed flour bags. Most of the displays were between 50-100 years old.

Some people were glad that the art work in the "extra" room was removed because many of the themes featured African American characters in a less than flattering light.

Many of the images were reminiscent of characters like Aunt Jemima or Little Black Sambo.

Sure, I understand that these images are stepping stones into our countries past history,and maybe it is important that they remain on file to remind us of our collective ignorance, but is it really necessary to have them suspended in the air lurking over my hash brown platter.

Now one of the servers brings the Filipino's and places them at table #16 which is kaddy - corner from us.

The mother and son sit down to the table. they don't sit directly across from one another,instead (from my P.O.V.)she sits at the 9 O'Clock position while the kid is plop a**ed at 12 O'Clock.

Sue McGleno starts explaining to me in explicate detail about cowboy themed curtains she is going to sew after I take her to Jo Anne Fabrics to get the necessities, and to be honest, I am listening....but I don't really care at the moment.

The Filipino's are sitting motionless at their table. Their presence is out of place on so many levels.

They are the only non white customers in the establishment. They are the only people not talking. In fact....their table was kinda plunked down in an midst of tables which were outlined with a perimeter of cushioned booths.

Many of the other people dining have just come in after 9 a.m. Mass let out. Folks are smiling, laughing, and reliving sultry episodes that they had experienced the night before.

But the Filipino woman just looks straight ahead. Her stare seems to be blank, or perhaps she has that "Super Man Vision" where she can look through the skulls of all the seated body's that sit between her and the picture window which must be 40 yards away.

The boy continues looking downward.

Periodically he'll look up and finesse a cell phone that looks like the kind you might get for cashing in 1000 Skee Ball tickets at a Chucky Cheese.

The content of the phone doesn't captivate him for very long though, sheepishly it will be folded shut, and the young mans jaw will drop and he'll go back to looking at the floor.

I became dismayed at this point. Danny Klecko is a problem solver, and I wanted more than anything to just put a smile on their faces.

It occurred to me with perfect clarity that this couples mood was the result of some unnatural consequence, and to be honest with you,at that moment I wasn't concerned if it was self imposed, or forced upon them. the source of the agitation often receives to much of the attention.

I was all about the solution.

Now Sue McGleno knuckle cracks me with her cereal spoon and points over towards the western wall. Sister Rosalind has taken a booth with another woman who like her, appears to be in her mid 80's.

Sister Rosalind stands 4' 8" tall and is quite a celebrity in the Twin Cities. About 20 or 25 years ago, she started a school of massage and had a space over on Grand Avenue.

It goes w/o saying that there was a misunderstanding, the St Paul P.D. burst in one night on a raid thinking that the Nuns massage parlor was the kind that offered....oh how shall I put this....happy endings?

This mishap drew so much attention, mostly in the form of laughter though, nobody really seemed to get too bent, but the local boys in blue might of got a little embarrassed when their miscue drew the attention of the New York Times.

So Klecko snakes through the tightly knit interior tables and interrupts his favorite Nun...

"Good Morning Sister, I was in need of a hug and my Father told me I would find you here."

The most sincere smile that has ever been flashed was directed at me and the Nun bolted out of her booth and wrapped her arms around me in front of over 100 diners.

I didn't care, It made me feel good.

So now Sister Rosalind Eye-Spy's Sue McGleno across the room and places hers short little Danny DeVito arms out in front of her in the Frankenstein position.

This is meant for my wife's benefit, it is to serve as a warning that she is moments away from becoming shrouded with love.

While 98 of the diners share in our joy, 2 people sit alone, unfazed, as if they were on a raft in the middle of the ocean.

I'm so serious here. My heart was broken at this point, and I begin thinking that I should tell Sister Rosalind to get over there and perform some of her Nun trickery on them....but I didn't. I was fearful of directing a Nun.

When I sat down, a server was bringing food to the Filipino's. I thought to myself that life was unjust. We placed our order before them, and they were getting to eat first lol.

The woman ordered a waffle plate with a small dish of pork link sausages on the side, and the kid ordered eggs (hard yokes), bacon and white toast.

FOOD - CONNECTION - COMMUNICATION

At this point I knew that these 2 were going to be the focal point of my 100th blog, why?

Because I knew that once the food hit their table, the 2 of them would loosen up, smile, and even if for just one brief meal....they would look past whatever was ailing them.

So I sat intently, I was waiting for the punchline, the stories crescendo, but you know what? They didn't smile. they didn't talk to one another.

In fact the boy just mumbled and grunted to himself while the lady ignored her silverware and simply used her fingers to pull the links out of the bowl.

You'll never know what an anomaly this was. sometimes I wonder if anybody on the planet has conscientiously watched as many people eat as I have.

Trust me, this is not a pitch for trophies or accolades. Its just that Klecko has always been intrigued by food, and how people don't seem to realize their connections to it.

Sometimes that connection is to a flavor, other times it might be to a texture.

Then there's the camp that become connected to the ethnic origin of whatever they are eating, or maybe to be more specific, the actual person who prepared this dish for them.

99 out of 100 times you can see a connection in the eyes of people the moment they take the first bite of whatever they are dining or snacking on.

The thing that is so beautiful about this is the deepest connections can happen at the most unlikely places.

Just watch the eyes of some old buck at a baseball game when he opens up a bag of peanuts and starts chomping.

If you look deep enough, you'll see that man in a youthful light, and chances are he'll be someplace interesting like Ebbets Field, or the Polo Grounds!

Kids eating cotton candy on the midway, brides taking that first bite of their wedding cake, or middle aged soccer moms buying their first rhubarb scone as the Farmers Market opens in the spring.

The woman doesn't even need to take a bite for this connection to take place. In fact, I'm willing to bet you a monkey to a dollar that she'll hold it in her palm for at least 5 minutes before she lifts it to her mouth.

Seasonal foods have that effect on women because they are thoughtful enough to take a moment to process what has taken place in their life from the last opportunity they had to indulge in something so special.

Its a moment of reverence, without thinking about it, these ladies are actually paying homage to the production of the wares that they are about to partake of.

The connection is like muscle memory, or white noise. This connection is 100% pure and can't be faked. If a person takes to long to think about it.....the moment is ruined.

But....as special as that moment is, it means nothing. In fact I might suggest if that's the extent of your eating experience, well you're not that much better off than wild dogs eating Alpo.

FOOD - CONNECTION - COMMUNICATION

If there's just one secret I have to tell you....its that none of us are created to be alone. We have a need to be loved which is stronger than any other desire that the body will scream for.

A lot of people have weird ways of showing it, and many will try to fulfill these needs in bent or perverted ways, but none the less...this is coming from the need to be loved.


That connection that we make with food is a key to understanding, but what good is truth if you are stuck alone in a box with 500 pounds of it.

Truth cannot, and will not blossom until is is communicated.

The thing that separates humans from animals is that we have the ability to have the courage to attach a sort of....vulnerability to food.

There is an essence of humility in all of us when we show how delighted we are when a dish to our liking is served.

Without our knowing it, our guard is dropped and it gives anybody and everybody an opportunity to look in our eyes and see who we truly are.

Depending on how you've lived your life....that can be an interesting moment.

So now the server brings out a huge glass of chocolate milk to the young Filipino guy.

Figuratively I've got my fingers crossed because Mom is done with her meal, and after the kid drinks this brown cow juice, these guys are going to hit the street, and if these 2 people can actually spend an hour of hopelessness in this environment, Klecko begins to wonder what the world will do to them when they separate.

What thoughts will flow through their minds.

While the kid is tilting his beverage, his mother has some bills wadded up and is now digging through a purse, from within her purse and cautiously stacks up piles of coins.

The boy witnesses the procedure, suffers embarrassment and recoils in fear.

I've always been mentored that when conflict was at hand, and if you didn't know what to do, the best solution was to "Race Towards the Roar!"

For a long moment I considered going over and dropping a 50 spot on her table, and if you know Klecko....you know he's not afraid to do stuff like that.

But for whatever reason, I was afraid today. I feared that this woman would be angered, or insulted.

When I went up to the counter, the cat ringing up my order played on the offensive line with my son. He was counting piles of change, and when I asked if that came from the Filipino chick, the kid looked at me and said......

"Yeah, it sucked for her because she didn't know that we don't accept credit cards. She's not the first person this has happened to, and it wasn't really a big deal, she was just short a couple of bucks, but I think it freaked her son out. He seemed pretty ashamed."

With that I had had enough. I was about to embark on an adventure with Sue McGleno to the fabric store to fetch material for cowboy curtains.

So as I did my best to dial down my sensitivity, I hopped into my truck and ran through the events one last time.......

FOOD - CONNECTION - COMMUNICATION

And then I just wished that those 2 would have spoken just once.

Without the communication, our connections are senseless.

Thanks for listening, and get ready.....Volume #2 is just around the corner.

4 comments:

  1. This is like oven spring, Klecko. Magic.

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  2. Thus endeth the first volume of L.A.B. -- with a bang!

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  3. I am always glad when Sandy Smith is on the same page with Klecko.......

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  4. You know Mike.....I kinda thought it ended with a whimper, you're the guru though.....I'll go with fireballs launching.

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