Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > Now I Understand the Pain of a South Lankvillian (A Very Special Brian Schropp)

Now I Understand the Pain of a South Lankvillian (A Very Special Brian Schropp)

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

Brian Schropp on Cuisine

My good friend Trucker Joe came by the other day to hang out and grab a bite to eat. We have both been very busy and haven’t had the time to see each other like we used to– Joe, of course, off on his “big riggin’ adventures” and me with my job at the “Pizza-A-Round” plus my new found celebrity being part-man part-bumpkin. As fate would have it, Joe’s rig was in the shop due to a minor accident he had the other week. “I just wasn’t paying attention to the road,” he told me while we both relaxed in my two very comfortable chair recliners in my basement apartment. “I was busy folding my socks coming back from the laundry. That’s the first rule of big riggin’ Bri, never fold clothes and drive your rig at the same time. And I had no idea that school buses would still be on the road that late in the evening.”

Joe's fender bender.

Joe’s fender bender.

I asked if he thought there would be any charges brought against him since some of the kids were hurt.

“I don’t think so. It was a bus from Southern Lankville up here on some sorta field trip.” There was an awkward pause. “You know how it will probably turn out.”

We both knew the injustices perpetrated against Southern Lankvillians very well. Throughout our history, they have always been seen as “inferior” to those in the northern half. It’s only been in the last hundred years that they have had any sort of “equal” rights. Both Joe and I being very liberal-minded think much more should be done but it’s hard to fight “the machine”.

After awhile the conversation turned to what was most important, where would we eat today? Joe had only one place on his mind.

“Subs ‘N’ Suds!! Subs ‘N’ Suds!!” He said banging his hands on the arms of the recliner.

He wasn’t the only one excited by the reopening of “Subs ‘N’ Suds”. Even though it had been closed because of various health violations we both never had had a bad meal there plus we thought the concept was top notch. What better way to enjoy a quality sandwich than in a nice warm tub full of bubbles soaking your worries away?

Fritz Malone with a lemur.

Fritz Malone with a lemur.

The place is owned by a man named Fritz Malone who said he always had a passion for eating in a bathtub ever since he was a child. He also has a passion for the equal rights of lemurs. Fritz believes them to be our “lost cousins” and notes that they should have rights equal to if not even more equal than South Lankvillians. Joe and I argued this with him from the tubs many a time at the old place. He never seemed to hold our views against us and always gave us a hell of a sandwich plus the best soap.

Upon arriving we were greeted warmly by Fritz and his staff but I could tell something was off almost right away. Fritz hugged Joe but only lightly patted me on the shoulder. Joe, who is usually pretty wise to his surroundings (I mean he is a trucker) got too wrapped up looking at the menu board and which tub he was going to select. The place looked about the same at least. Just imagine your typical sub/sandwich shop but instead of tables and chairs rows of nice (and always cleaned before the next customer) bathtubs. Don’t freak out– there are both men and women changing rooms!

Joe babbled on and on about what type of sub he might get while being lead by a worker to the changing rooms. I started to follow but Fritz stopped me.

“Uh Bri, how would you like to try our “VIP Room”? It’s private and out of the way, you can enjoy your meal in peace.”

I tried to tell him how I like to sit out with the other “bathtubbers” to see what they ordered. I was also there with Joe and nothing bonds two friends together than soaking next to each other and eating. Fritz was very persistent and steered me in the direction of the kitchen doors. I turned back to get Joe’s attention but he was already entering the changing rooms (still going on loudly about the subs). The kitchen was busy preparing for the lunch crowd with the smell of fresh cooking bread in the air. Fritz led me to the far back behind the food freezers and the kitchen sinks. In the corner by an emergency exit was a shower.

“Here it is- the lovely “VIP Room”! It’s been booked pretty solid since we opened but for some reason it’s not booked for our lunch today. You will love it, very nice.”

Customers preparing for their meals.

Customers preparing for their meals.

I told him it didn’t look too glamorous or special. He assured me that this was all the rage in “VIP rooms” these days. I was also concern about the lack of a changing area. Again, he said this was a “new thing” and just to close the shower curtain and throw my clothes over. This didn’t sound very relaxing. Could you shower and eat? Would it be the same? It felt very wrong but I still decided that this could be some sort of cutting edge trend that I hadn’t yet heard about.

So I got in, closed the curtain, then threw my clothes over the shower. Fritz told me he would be right back. I waited for what seemed like a very long time– the shower wasn’t all that big and it was somewhat cold back here. What was going on? Did he go to get a menu?

I heard someone finally come back. After a moment a gloved hand reached around the curtain with a sorry looking sandwich on a paper plate. “Here you go,” Fritz said.

“I didn’t order this! You didn’t even give me a menu.” I looked closer at the sandwich. “Is this even something you made or did you get this somewhere else?”

“Bri, just turn on the shower now. It will feel good and the sandwich will taste a lot better.”

I rolled my eyes and tried turning on the shower. No dice, the shower knob seemed to be rusted. I told Fritz this.

“No worries I will be back.”

The "VIP Room"

The “VIP Room”

With Fritz gone again I could definitely tell the food given me was not made here. In fact, it was made two doors down at the “Grit Spoon” a local dive which I haven’t been to in years and for good reason. What was going on here? Why was I back here? Why wouldn’t they serve me their food?

Fritz was back with promises of everything being fixed and that all I had to do was open the shower curtain. Was he finally going to stop this foolery and take me to the main room? I pulled back the curtain and found him standing behind one of his workers. The worker was wearing a hazmat suit and holding a garden hose in my direction. Before I could say anything I was being sprayed by water, the cold spray hit my face and then worked down knocking the plate out of my hand.

“See, see Bri, water feels good right? This is what all the people want in the VIP room!”

It finally dawned on me what was going on. It hit me with the force of Trucker Joe’s big rig. The problem was me.

I told them to stop the hose.

“But it’s what we do for–”

“Come on Fritz I’m not buying that anymore. I want you to tell me the truth.”

“Please Bri, you have to understand it’s nothing personal. I really like you, I really do!! But I couldn’t have you in the tubs you see–.” He trailed off and turned away from me.

“You were afraid that if someone was to use the tub after me they would somehow get “bumpkin” on them. Is that right?”

He nodded his head in shame.

“And the food, you were afraid of giving me your own food because there might be some sort of contamination?”

“People in the area they talk–”

Worker in Hazmat Suit

Worker in Hazmat Suit

“You can’t become a bumpkin just using the bathtub after someone or eating after them. No matter what people think you should know the facts Fritz. I knew you had your prejudices and maybe I overlooked them before but I now understand that is wrong no matter how good the food is.” I found the towel nearby (which was dirty) and wrapped it around me and then picked up my clothes “But I will take a reuben to go and it will be on the house.”

I walked out to find Joe. He was on his third meatball sub and his tub water was cold and dirty. After telling him the situation he stood up (without retrieving his towel) and stormed off to change into his clothes. After he came back he told Fritz that he was lucky his big rig was still in the shop or else he would have smashed it through the front doors. Joe also demanded three meatball subs on the house which Fritz made no fuss about.

A few days later I received an “electronic-mail” from Fritz apologizing about what took place. Evidently, his precious lemurs who had witnessed some of what went on are now not even giving him the time of day. He has read up on what bumpkins really are and understands some things more clearly. I can only hope he continues.

Until next time dear readers, keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas.

Happy Eating,
BRI

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