Enjoying a great meal, all the way down to the shoes


Just the other day, I was reminded of a trip I took once upon a time to New Orleans.

When I was a working man, I was in the sporting goods business … Not socks and jocks and stuff like that. I used to sell huntin’ and shootin’ stuff. You didn’t think I could make a livin’ writin’ this junk, did you?

Well, one time I was in New Orleans for the S.H.O.T. show -- that stands for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoors Trade Show.

Most of the time it’s in Las Vegas, but this particular year it was in New Orleans. Now, if you like to eat, New Orleans is the place to go. And man, I love to eat.

Oh, they have other stuff to do there, but for me, it all takes a back seat to eatin’. Boy howdy, I had some mighty fine meals. I was warned by my wife Janet to watch what I ate. I’m supposed to be on a low fat diet, you know. Well, I watched it all right.

I watched it go from my plate to my mouth.

My buddy Matthew Davis (I’ve written about Matthew before. He’s the one who, while tryin’ to siphon water through a garden hose, sucked a slug halfway down his throat) and I went out one night to a restaurant that is famous for its barbecue shrimp, and you know how much I like barbecue.

If you don’t believe me, ask ‘em down at Pat Gee’s. Anywho, I don’t know why they call it barbecue shrimp because it’s not like regular barbecue. It is a big bowl of great big shrimp in a pool of buttery sauce. Man, you talk about a heart stopper.

“Well, after Matthew and I sucked down a boxcar load of raw oysters (I just can’t get enough of those things), the little waitress came over behind me and proceeded to fix me up with a big bib. Matthew watched her with interest.

“Hey Rusty,” he said. “I see they’ve seen you eat before.”

“Funny,” I replied, as the waitress walked away.

“How come I don’t get one?” he asked.

“Cause you didn’t get the shrimp,” I replied. He opted for some kind of veal somethin’ or the other.

Well, when that waitress sat that big bowl of shrimp down in front of me, I could tell Matthew was wishin’ he’d ordered ‘em too. They were some big ol’ shrimp, and they were still dressed in their heads and shells. I had to peel ‘em and eat them, thus the bib.

Man, I had that buttery sauce all over me. I had it runnin’ down my arms. I had it all in my beard. Heck, I even had it up in my eyebrows. Boy, it was good. Matthew wouldn’t even look at me. He said it made him nauseous.

After I finished, you couldn’t have fit another shrimp in me, even with the help of a shoehorn. When the waitress showed up to retrieve the bib, I just sat there in a stupor.

“Man, that was good,” I said.

“It must have been,” Matthew said as he looked at the mess on the table. “I haven’t seen that much carnage since the beach landing scene in “Saving Private Ryan.’’

“I need to go wash up,” I grunted.

“You’re telling me,” he said.

After a couple of false starts, I rocked enough to get up out of my chair. When I walked into the restroom, I noticed some sort of contraption on the floor beside the sink.

“What’s that thing?” I said to a fellow washin’ up at the sink. He looked to where I was pointin’.

“Oh, that’s a shoe polisher,” he said.

“Really,” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied as he dried his hands.

“How’s it work?’ I asked.

“Here, let me show you,” he said.

Now, the thing was a metal box about the size of a four-hole toaster, and had two cone shaped brushes, one stickin’ out on either end of the thing. Stickin’ straight up from the box was a handle with a ball on the end. The ball was located not quite waist high.

On top of the ball was a button. Well, this fellow stuck one of his feet under one of the brushes and pushed the button. That brush came to life spinning and proceeded to polish his shoe.

“Man,” I said. “That’s pretty cool.”

After he left, and I finished washin’ up, I decided to give the polisher a try for myself. I stuck my right foot under the brush on the right side and pushed the button. Boy howdy, that thing went to town.

That shoe had never looked so shiny. I was wearin’ my Sunday school shoes. That’s what we used to call your good shoes. We used to only wear our good shoes to church, you know.

Now, these shoes have those little fake holes all over the toes, and they have two tassels on top. I always thought those little tassels looked kind of sissified, but my wife bought ‘em for me, so I wear ‘em.

Well now, I couldn’t go back out in the restaurant with just one shiny shoe, so I stuck my left one under the other brush, and pushed the button. Lookin’ back, I guess I should’ve been holdin’ on to that ball handle, because when that brush started whirlin’, it grabbed one of my shoe tassels. When that tassel went around, the machine jerked my foot and stopped the brush. It must have been a pretty powerful motor because when the brush stopped, the machine started to turn over.

Well, like I said, that ball on the handle wasn’t quite waist high, and since I didn’t have a grip on it, it came for me at a rather fast rate. What happened after that is still a little fuzzy. I’m not gonna tell you where that handle hit me, you’ll have to use your imagination. I can tell you that my eyes bugged so far out of my head that they pushed my glasses clean to the end of my nose.

“As I bent over there gaspin’, I got the feelin’ that my shrimp and oysters were jockeying for position as to which one would get to resurface first. Fortunately, I kept them down. After a few minutes, and a bucket of sweat and tears, I untangled my shoe from the soprano makin’ polisher. I exited the restroom and staggered back to the table.

“Man,” said Matthew. “You look sort of green. But by golly, your shoes sure look good.”


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