I took Diva Girlfriend to a small town last weekend for a bed-and-breakfast thing. It was mostly great — I’d recommend the historic and beautiful place where we stayed, if not for the creepy innkeeper who lurches over you like one of the hillbillies from Deliverance, and the enormous box-top TVs that dangle precariously over each of the bathtubs and beds.
We explored the small town in search of a good dinner, and a wishy-washy Yelp crowd led us to a small hibachi place in a strip mall across from a SuperTarget. But we’re open-minded, so we gave it a shot. (“Hey, this looks like the least worst place within 45 miles!”)
Our hibachi griller wasn’t exactly spectacular, in the sense that he seemed nervous and completely boned all of our orders. But you had to appreciate that this was some pretty fine dining for a small town. The table next to us was full of ranchers’ sons and daughters out on their prom dinner dates. They looked like they were well-fueled with teenage hormones and rot-gut whiskey. But in a good way.
And I thought the griller guy was trying really hard, which was worth more than anything. When I see a guy trying his best and struggling, I can’t help but to pull for them. I suddenly become their own personal plant in the audience, laughing at their terrible hibachi-themed humor (Ha! You spun the egg! An “egg roll”! I get it!), trying to get the rest of the crowd to rally in their behalf. I root for the underdog, even when he’s making bad food for me.
So while our less-than-spectacular griller made unrepeatably awful jokes, and I laughed out loud, and Diva Girlfriend wondered if I had a head injury, the rest of the small town hibachi crowd did their normal thing… until suddenly…
Whoosh! The sudden flame of the grill as the next griller set his little round of oil on fire. This was followed immediately by the loudest, girliest shriek my ears have ever heard.
It was a boy at the next table. Probably 10 years old, definitely impressed by the hibachi experience, scared out of his wits. He was caught completely unaware that his griller was about to set his hibachi on fire.
Somehow that single banshee-like exclamation made the whole experience worth it. I didn’t get the food I ordered, my Asian griller was actually kinda Mexican, and the local prom yokels outnumbered us 4 to 1. But that one little shriek reminded me that at some point, we all had our first hibachi experience. Good for you, Scared Shrieking Dude.