Dave

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Saturday, June 2, 2007

Supper Report: Chili's: 1604 & Culebra

I apologize in advance that I forgot to take my camera to dinner, so I can't offer you a look at the vittles I ate.

We are pretty much regulars at this particular Chili's, and in general, when I get those little surveys where they ask you where you eat, I rate any Chili's as a standard for our dining out experiences. Usually very quick, always consistent in the food, and I'd say reasonable.

Okay, so I need to rethink my dining. Ever since I changed my diet for health reasons, I have found what I find comfortable at a particular place, then stick with it. For example, at Bill Miller's, I always get the Baked Potato and Salad combo. Oh sure, I love the other stuff - the chicken, the brisket and what have you, but I always get the same combo. It works for me.

So last night, we go into Chili's and our neighbor comes up and says howdy. I guess he and his wife were having a beer. I should say that Chili's is good for beer too, but I stopped buying it there. Anyway, after brief pleasantries, the hostess motioned for us to follow her and right away, I got the sense that she had bathed in some sort of Musk type perfume. WTF? You can ban smoking in a restaurant but they don't have laws against some little teenage girl drenching herself in recycled scents of the 70's?

So we sit down and our waitress comes and takes our drink order. Strictly unsweetened iced-tea for me, and my wife tried some sort of crazy lemonade combination. When she got it, she said it tasted sort of watered down. I suspect that what they served her was some mixture from the bar, and the only thing missing was three or four shots of good tequila or at least some rum.

Anyway, the girl takes my order and I go with my usual: House salad with Ranch and the Terlingua Chili. My wife spent twenty minutes thinking about the fajitas or whatever other stuff they have, but she finally gave in and had the house salad with Ranch, and the Broccoli with Cheese soup.

When I am in any restaurant, I spend 90 percent of the time looking at other people hoping to catch somebody doing something stupid. I realize this is very juvenile and probably points to some hidden disorder or expensive mental complex I have. Is mental complex even a thing that you have, or is it a place on South Presa?

The problem is, even if I found somebody doing something crazy, I didn't have my camera with me, and this was causing me to be very uncomfortable. So, I can only say that there were a few awkward looking grandparents with very young grandchildren. Either they were grandparents or, they waited until they were extremely fat, old and ugly to have kids, which is okay, I suppose. But imagine the torment of kids in school when you show up for a PTA meeting looking like that. Granted, everybody loves grandparents, even the kids who aren't really the grandchildren, so you can be as creepy looking as you want, and little kids just think that's how grandparents look.

Anyway, these grandparents had clearly just come back from either Sea World or Fiesta Texas, and they bore the evidence of not enough sunscreen. Being the gentleman, Grandpa had removed his hat and now, there was a clear outline of where his lobster-red face ended just above his eyes, and where his pasty-white forehead had been spared from any harmful affects of Global Warming. Egad. And the wife didn't look much better. Some people should just be issued Moo moos when they turn 35, and leave it at that.

Okay, so our dinner comes and I prepare myself for the salad I love so much and I place my steaming bowl of Terlingua Chili next to it and I am ready to go. Suddenly, the hostess comes to seat someone at a nearby table and the entire area is fogged in with this musky perfume that she is still wearing, and I suspect may have even hit the ladies room for another fifty-cents worth. I nearly choked, but I wasn't going to let it stop me from the salad.

And then I remembered that I didn't have my camera. I know this sounds weird, but how can you eat if you don't have a camera? Like I told my daughter when I gave her what is probably her 5th camera in as many years, "You cannot take too many pictures." I mean, especially these days with digital and the fact that you can go to HEB and for 23 cents a copy, print out only the pictures you want. Nobody ever lays on there deathbed and says to their surviving kids, "I took way too many pictures of my life, go throw them all away."

So now, it smells like Musk and I can't take a picture of my salad and my chili. But my tea was good. And when the girl came by to fill it up, my wife asked her if she could try a different beverage, being that the first attempt tasted like a combination of water and something the hostess might wear to the prom.

I have to tell you, I ate my salad in about three minutes. I love how they give you just enough Ranch dressing to cover everything, but not too much that you feel like you are bathing in it. Then, I turned onto the chili. They have this little dab of cheese in the center with a dollop of sour cream and some sort of diced tomatoes on top to give it the appearance of something you'd see on TV. Either way, I just mix it all up and eat it. But at some point, do you ever get the feeling that even though something is good, perhaps you've just done it one time too many? I think I'm going to have to take a break from the salad and chili combo for a while. I mean, I ate it all and it was all good, but I need to shake things up. I tried that Black Bean Burger once, and I confess, it was good and all, but if you are trying to eat healthy, you shouldn't have to slather on a quart of Mayonnaise to get it down. God, I love mayo. I could eat Mayonnaise on peanut butter. But I don't really like peanut butter all that much.

So my wife finishes her salad and starts in on this Broccoli and Cheese soup. In all fairness, there was broccoli in the soup - I could see it. But my wife said that it seemed like she was eating a bowl of nacho cheese. And it did look that way. I guess the presentation didn't work for her, so I took over. But then again, I like nacho cheese. It is especially good with Mayonnaise. And tiny pieces of broccoli if you can get it.

Okay, ever since we got this channel on TV called the Fine Living Channel, I don't watch it.

But one time, I was half-way between semi-consciousness and passed-out and the twitching of my thumb had caused the remote control to skip by the Gay Channel and onto this Fine Living channel. (Seriously, they have special TV channels for everybody). The next thing I know, I am watching some famous butler, a thin version of Sebastian Cabot or something, teaching junior waiters how to wait tables for an exclusive dinner.

Forgive me for taking a moment to ask this, but if it is fine living, why are they programming special shows for waiters? Are people making some outrageous tips that the IRS should know about?

Anyway, this waiter guy shows all the tricks of how to hold the plates, serve from the right, pick-up from the left, balance martinis on your nose and such. One thing he scolded his trainees was, never, ever remove a diner's plates from the table (unless they specifically ask you to). This is more than a good way to get a fork in the hand if somebody looks done, but isn't. I like to lick the bowl of chili clean myself, when I'm at home anyway. But the other reason is, you never want to make your guests feel rushed.

So, last night, I think our waitress was literally watching me from a crow's nest with night vision goggles waiting for me to eat the last piece of brown lettuce from my salad and as soon as my fork left the grip of my hand, she swooped by and snatched the salad bowl away. WTF? I know someone who needs to get UVerse.

Anyway, just as the hostess was coming to seat yet another group of people in our area, somebody, and I am happy to report it was no one at my booth, let loose with an audible ass-burp. Good times. But then it started to smell. And I don't mean maybe.

My wife looked at me and mouthed those all familiar words (with a squinched nose) "Did you fart?"

I don't know who it was, but for the first time in the evening, I wanted that hostess to hang around a little longer so we could get a sniff of her Musk perfume. Sweet mother of Larry, Curly and Moe, somebody was in need of a laxative.

With that, we paid our bill and left. But other than the farting and the stuff my wife didn't like about her dinner, it was all good.

How was your dinner? Tell me about it.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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