It’s a blue moon. Pigs are flying. As we drive by Little Bangkok on Cheshire Bridge Road, one of the nine parking spaces is actually available! So: dinner time.
In the booth behind us sit an odd bearded man and a flamboyant friend in a Christmas skullcap. Bearded guy orders pad kee mao, or drunken noodles. Mr. Christmas orders the same. When the dishes arrives, this conversation begins:
“I don’t have enough noodles!” Mr. Beard exclaims. “Mine is all vegetables!”
Mr. Christmas says, “You want some of my noodles?” (He does, in fact, seem to have a lot of noodles.)
“I mean, it tastes good,” Mr. Beard says. “But I have hardly any noodles.”
“Take some of mine!” Mr. Christmas replies.
“What I’m saying is that it’s proportioned wrong,” Mr. Beard says. “They gave you too many noodles, and I got all the vegetables. Should I mention it? I’m going to mention it.”
“I got plenty of noodles,” Mr. Christmas says. “Take some.”
“I like the taste,” Mr. Beard insists. “I should have had more noodles, and you should have had some vegetables. If eat nothing but a plate of vegetables, I’m going to have to stop and get a bag of Cheetos or something on the way home. So I should say something.”
And, with that, Mr. Beard calls for a waiter. When the young man — who seems to struggle a bit with English — arrives, Mr. Beard tells him, “This is proportioned wrong. I don’t have enough pasta. He has all the pasta. It’s good and all, but it’s proportioned wrong.”
The waiter tilts his head to one side. “Position wrong?”
“Proportioned wrong. Look, I used to own a restaurant, ten dollar dishes every Tuesday and Wednesday night, and we worked hard to make sure the cook always proportioned the dishes accordingly. The pasta proportions here are wrong. Do you get what I’m saying? He has all the pasta.”
The waiter tilts his head to the other side. “Partition wrong?”
“Pasta,” Mr. Beard says, speaking very slowly. “The. Pah. Stah. He has all the noodles.”
The waiter breaks into a sunny smile. “I go get the chef for you.”
“Tell him I like the taste,” Mr. Beard says again. “But it’s all out of proportion.”
The waiter leaves. The chef appears. “Yes?”
“This meal is entirely proportioned wrong. I have all the vegetables, and my friend here has all the pasta.”
The chef shrugs. “I get you more noodles.”
Mr. Beard shakes his head, frustrated. “You’re not hearing what I’m saying. This dish is proportioned incorrectly. When it was served, you gave my friend here all the pasta, and I got all the vegetables. Same dish, right? But he got all the noodles.”
The chef shrugs. “I bring you plate of noodles.”
“No, no,” Mr. Beard says. “Don’t do that. I don’t want to be any trouble.”
“Take five minutes,” the chef says.
“No,” Mr. Beard says. He looks as though a knife has been plunged into his very soul. “That’s too much trouble. And it’s not my point. As a former restaurant owner, I’m trying to be helpful to you. I’m saying it’s the proportions.”
There is a very long, very uncomfortable pause.
“So,” the chef says. “You okay then?”
Mr. Beard sighs the sigh of the impossibly patient martyr. “Yes, yes, I’m fine.”
The chef leaves.
“This meal is ruined!” Mr. Beard hisses. “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. Let’s get to go boxes, and on the way home, I’ll stop and get a bag of egg noodles and fix it myself. Then we won’t have insulted our palettes with improperly proportioned dishes!”