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The Essay
Show #491
le grand garçon
David Gunn

   The throaty roar from the bored and stroked inline-six of Buzz's '51 Hudson Wingback turned heads wherever he went, and it was no different when he and Nancy pulled into Bob's Big Boy on West Alameda for a couple of burgers. He gave the engine a couple of gratuitous revs before shutting it off, then he rolled down the window to greet Muffy as she strolled catlike towards the car in the tightest imaginable pantaloons.
   "Good evening, and welcome to Chez Robert's le grand garçon. My name is Muffy and I will be your server this evening. May I show you our wine list?"
   Buzz gaped at her, not comprehending. "Hey, cut it out, Muffy. We was just comin' in for a cheeseburger, wasn't we Nance? And maybe a sarsaparilla. But ..." His voice trailed off and he shrugged. Maybe she was trying out for a play or something. Well, he could play along, too. Doing his best Humphrey Bogart imitation, he said "Oh, what the heck. Whacha got on tap?"
   Muffy paused to crack her gum and clear her throat. "We have a very nice Bordeaux, a 1787 Château Lafite. Goes real swell with the meat loaf. Also a groovy white, a 1948 Montrachet from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. I recommend that if you're having our Tuna Noodle Dandy or the Fishwich. And my personal favorite, the Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945. Comes in a four-liter jeroboam shaped like a pancreas but we serve it in sparkly blue plastic tumblers with Chez Robert's jerky-flavored swizzle sticks." She lowered her voice conspiratorially. "Tastes a little like chicken, if you wanna know the truth."
   Buzz fidgeted. He didn't want to let on to Nancy that all those fancy wine words went right over his head. Luckily, his buddy Eugene, parked next to him in his big white Packard, chose that moment to put his two cents in. "Hey, Buzz," he said, "no matter what she says, stay away from the '51 Château Haut Brion Pessac-Léognan. Yecch, I thought I was drinking Pledge!"
   Muffy bristled. "I told you, Eugene, not to have it with the coleslaw. But you wouldn't listen, oh no! You ..."
   "Excuse me," Nancy interrupted, "but I really had my heart set on a merlot. How 'bout that Petrus Pomerol I've heard so much about? The one that's extremely fruity, with suggestions of berries, vanilla, mocha and oak. And that finish!" She smacked her lips. "Oh, it's really something to wait for as it caresses the palate! Especially with le grand garçon's great onion rings!"
   Buzz gaped at Nancy, then recovered. "Sure, that's what we'll have," he said importantly. "And bring us two straws, please."
   Muffy jotted down the order in her notebook, then sashayed back to the restaurant, her hips swaying back and forth like a couple of spongy bongo drums that Buzz had long yearned to play.
   A sudden explosion rocked the Big Boy parking lot, violently shaking the Hudson, and eliciting a shriek from Nancy. "What was that?!"
   Buzz glanced over at the cavernous hole in the pavement where the big Packard had been parked a minute before. "Guess Eugene's borborygmus finally got the better of him, poor guy."
   Muffy reappeared from le grand garçon carrying a tray on which were balanced a glass bottle and a bowl of sizzling onion rings. In place of a cork, the bottle sported a velvet nose. Nancy moaned appreciatively when she saw it, so Buzz remained silent in his ignorance. Muffy locked the tray onto the half-rolled-up driver's-side window, then gently pressed the bottle's nostrils together--once, twice, three times--until it sneezed, spewing tiny drops of Petrus Pomerol merlot up into the air. Instantly, the tongues of all three were out, licking the air clean of any wine particulate matter. Then Muffy showed the bottle to Nancy--a bit too theatrically, thought Buzz--and handed it to her along with a straw. Nancy bit off the tip of the straw and inserted it into the bottle. She sucked demurely, savoring the wine's power from the rich soil on which the grapes grew. She leaned back, sighed, and nodded appreciatively to Muffy, who next handed Buzz a straw. He tried to bite off the tip, too, but he didn't get the tooth-to-straw angle right and it just bent unappetizingly. Embarrassed, he hastily jammed it into the bottle and began to suck ferociously. Nothing happened. He sucked again, even harder this time. Still nothing. Examining the straw, he saw an embolus where he'd bent it. He tried to massage it out, but it wouldn't budge. So he popped the straw back into the bottle and blew. Hard. The merlotic obstruction was expelled with such force that it burst through the bottom of the bottle. Which Nancy was still holding on her lap.
   "Oh no!" she exclaimed, however the operative word was really yes. Yes, the wonderfully fruity wine had exploded all over her spanking clean white dress ...
   ... leaving nothing to wash down the onion rings with, thought Buzz as he absent-mindedly chewed his straw to a pulp.
   Muffy produced a moist towelette and tried to sop up the spilt Petrus Pomerol. By chance, she rubbed the towelette against the bottle, and a genie suddenly appeared in a puff of mocha- and oak-scented smoke.
   "Who summons me?" he said, in a voice full of big, silky tannins and a long, smoky aftertaste--not unlike Eugene's, thought Buzz, as he retreated from the genie's halitosis.
   "Sorry, genie," said Muffy, "I must've rubbed the bottle by mistake, but as you can see, we've made an awful mess of your lovely wine. Can you help us clean it up?"
   The genie surveyed Nancy's dress--Buzz thought that his eyes rested a bit too long on her supple form--then snapped his fingers. Instantly, the red stains vanished!
   Unfortunately, so, too, did Nancy, Buzz, the Hudson Wingback and the plate of onion rings.
   "Oh, genie, you've really done it this time!" said a very cross Muffy.

Coincidentally, this time is also Kalvos & Damian's New Music Bazaar's 491st, a full-bodied masterpiece of a radio show that beguiles the senses with a complex array of alluring scents, flavors and even Kalvos.