So once or twice a month, I’ll stop at the local Chinese food place. It’s in a great location. I order my food, walk down to the bank, maybe stop in the drug store or supermarket, and then drop back in on the Chinese food place to pick up my hot, steaming order of Egg Foo Yung. For those poor souls, uneducated in the ways of truly disgusting Chinese dishes, Egg Foo Yung is three 3-egg omelettes, cooked in a wok, and served in a dense brown sauce. If I give you a hard time about your Big Mac consumption, feel free to parry with the Chinese omelette. Egg Foo Yung is like cigarettes: I know it is gonna kill me, it’s a disgusting habit, and if you don’t know why I do it, I can’t even talk to you about it. At least, I don’t throw the un-inhaled portion out into the road whilst driving.
Anyway, the greatest thing about stopping for Chinese is the little side shows. During the winter, as I crossed the parking lot, I noticed a strong odor of burnt wood. It was so strong that, as I entered the Chinese food place, I could smell the wafts of smoke emanating from my jacket. It attached to me that quickly. I commented on it, saying that I didn’t start the fire. Ha, ha. As my order was cooking, the staff in the restaurant was becoming visibly nervous over the smell, until we all saw fire trucks come streaming into the parking lot. Within minutes there were, and I am not exaggerating, a dozen fire trucks in the lot. But there was no fire to put out. The pizza place next door has a wood burning oven, and, apparently, they forgot how to open the flue. There had to be sixty firemen there, easily, all just told to go back home.
Last time I was ordering Chinese, a kid on a bike, probably about 16 or so, accosted me as I walked out of the supermarket, asking me to buy him some cigarettes. What a disgusting habit, I thought. No, that’s not what I really thought. What I really thought was, hey! how come he knows I’m old enough to buy cigarettes? And that got me thinking, as it always does, about being a kid and thinking that 30-year olds were so adult, so mature, and had to have it all together by then. Yeah. But I never did ask one to buy me cigarettes or booze. The kid might have gotten lucky with me if he asked for beer, but only if he asked for the right beer.
I’m a beer-elitist. And this was proven to me on that very same excursion for my Chinese fix. There was an old, bummy looking guy, skinny, coupla teeth, pushing a cart on the sidewalk filled with things hidden by black, plastic bags. Now this strip mall does have a supermarket in it, so I wasn’t going by the cart alone to convince myself that the gentleman in question was a bum. He also carried with him a beer can in a paper bag. That was a topper. But, initially, I gave him kudos for his choice of beer. The can was very long, no 12 ouncer, and was black. In my naive elitism, I thought the guy was drinking a Guinness. It isn’t a very practical thing to do, since, I was thinking to myself, the Guinness can is meant to be poured into a glass. The new glass bottle Guinness, they say, can be drunk from the bottle, but I’d still pour it into a glass, being the beer elitist and all.
And then, I thought about the absurdity of my thoughts, very meta. He’s not drinking a Guinness, you dweeb. A Guinness is about $2.50 a can. It’s gotta be MGD or some such. Idiot, I sighed to myself.
We met up in the Chinese restaurant, my beer-swilling friend and me. He was talking to the cashier about his two daughters coming up from Florida, and that his mom was doing well in the nursing home. I still don’t know what to make of that, except that North Babylon has some chatty hobos.
Then, after I picked up my food and made my way back to my car, I got a message, a message from God’s messenger. You see, “The end is near. You, me, everyone you love, every star, every animal is going to die.” That’s it, folks. Wrap it up; nothing more to see here. The photocopied paper clung to my windshield, and all the rest of us who were just so lucky to park there at that time so we could be saved. Sneaky bastard. I was walking back and forth through that parking lot for the past 15 minutes, and I never even saw her.
I’m pretty sure it was a woman who wrote out the treatise on the second-coming of Christ, because of the handwriting, very curly. She didn’t necessarily hand them out, for sure, but I don’t think she’d want to do anything half-assed for the Lord. She seems to have the perennial problem of mixing up “your” and “you’re,” but she did pretty good otherwise. I don’t really want to make fun of this person, but I did get a kick out of this line, which was written lengthwise up the margin of the page: “God loves you, shouldn’t you love him? YES!” Oh, those pesky ambiguous negatives. Yes, I shouldn’t love him? No, I should not love him? No, I should love him? Oh, YES, I should love him. Okay. Got it. Now, I can see this “saving” a Christian who has gotten lost from the flock, and for that we all rejoice, but does it really work on someone who, let’s say, is a confirmed atheist who has written several pieces of Internet propaganda on the silliness of the Christian persecution complex? But, then again, how many of them did she expect to come across in a parking lot picking up Chinese food?