It’s a nice place, so Mike and I go there pretty often. It’s a cross between fast food and a sit down restaurant. You go up to the counter, order your food and pay, then the staff brings your food to your table. No tipping allowed. The owner of the restaurant helps cook and wanders the tables, making sure that people like their food. We see him so often that he knows our faces and welcomes us back.
Last Thursday, I ordered the Mushroom Stroganoff with Beef. It comes covered with freshly grated parmesan cheese on the top. While I was stirring it in, some of the parmesan fell out onto the table. I don’t like to eat at a messy table, so I gathered the cheese and placed it on our receipt. By the time he came to the table, I had forgotten about the cheese and was happily enjoying my pasta.
“Hey, welcome back! I didn’t see you in the line. How is everything?”
Mike and I extolled his praises, but I don’t think he heard it.
“What is that? Did a sprout get into your dish? Are you sure everything is ok?”
He pointed at the cheese on the receipt. It looked like I had rejected some of my food. I tried to explain that the food was excellent.
“Oh, that’s just some cheese that fell out of the bowl. I just put it over there to keep the table clean.”
“Wasn’t your table clean?”
“Oh, I’m sure it was immaculate. It’s just that if food touches the table it feels contaminated in my mind, so I won’t eat it. It’s my personal psychosis. I love the food and the restaurant is always clean.”
I had visions of the nice girl that I’m not allowed to tip getting reamed in the back room because Mrs. Moncur doesn’t think his tables are clean. It seemed like I convinced him. Then, from out of nowhere, the confession came.
“You know, we all have weird things. Like when I’m watching television and the volume is displayed, I can’t let it be a prime number.”
“Yeah. If I’m at someone else’s house, I’ll ask them to turn it up a notch or down a notch so that it won’t be a prime number or I’ll just try not to look at the television.” “What if the channel is a prime number?”
“That’s just fine. It’s just the volume. 17 is bad, but 18 or 16 are just fine.” “Wow. That makes my cheese thing look a whole lot less psychotic, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just a glitch in the Matrix.”
“Yeah. Well, have a great day.”
He shook his head briefly as if to clean the idea of prime numbers on the television screen from his memory and continued greeting customers and bringing take home boxes to ones who are unable to finish their tasty dishes.
As far as confessions go, that one is mild. I wonder if I’ll start noticing the volume numbers when I watch television now. Will his glitch in the Matrix affect me? Is it like a virus? Maybe it will work the other way. Maybe he will feel more comfortable with those pesky prime numbers the next time he sits down at a television. Maybe his confession relieved him of that fear. I’m going to pretend that’s the case. I can’t be receiving these confessions for nothing.