Author’s note : I wrote this a few months ago but never submitted it as it seemed too self-absorbed. But with the recent “Komen”controversy I saw it as a good chance to draw attention to myself.
So here it is
“What Would Norman E. Brinker Do?”
I was traveling last week on business. My client took me to an “Asian” restaurant. Of course I recognized it as Vietnamese when we went inside, but the lady was Chinese. She said her husband was Vietnamese. I spoke to her in Pimsleur Speak and Understand Vietnamese : “I speak a little Vietnamese, but not very well”. She was not impressed. Then I spoke to her in Pimsleur Speak and Understand Mandarin : “I speak a little Chinese, but not very well”. She merely grunted. Then I identified that she was from Cholon, the Chinese district in Saigon. Still not much reaction. I recalled the time I bragged to my sister-in-saw that I spoke Khmer, they being puzzled why I had traveled to Cambodia before our wedding (to produce Khmer music videos! that’s another story) . So they brought forward a Cambodian woman while we were eating lunch. I spoke to her in Modern Broken Cambodian : “I speak a little Khmer, but not very well”. She smiled politely and left. I thought “I am such a clever chap who speaks many languages.” Afterwards my wife tole me the lady said she did not understand what I was saying. Later that day the electricity went out. We sat there in the darkness. A woman on the radio news was talking. My sister-in-law ast me if I understood. I said “Yes, she said the power had gone out and will be restored in 20 minutes.” They were awed. 20 minutes later the power came back on. I didn’t tell them it was a wild guess, because it always takes 20 minutes for power to be restored.
Back to the restaurant story. I ordered “Sea Cucumber”. The lady said it contained no meat. My client and I argued that it was an invertebrate, and indeed was meat. So I called my viet wife, who said it was a vegetable. I ordered it anyway, having heard somewhere that it stimulates prostatic function.
The restaurant was a hideous “Olde English” theme festooned with paintings of ribald men clutching beer steins and frolicking with pock-marked, cleavage-busting wenches. A gigantic unused salad bar dominated the center of the claustrophobic Elizabethan architecture, which had hints o’ 1970’s love for simulated wood paneling. The lighting was cold and ghastly. I nervously considered if I would catch plague or get kneecapped before my dinner was served. I guessed it was an old “Steak and Ale”. I ast the lady, what was it before they bought it? She said “a Steak and Ale”. My client was impressed with my command of trivia.
I pondered, who the hell gets an idea to create an olde English theme restaurant and sell it to American midwesterners? The “sea cucumber” was too salty, but I ate as much as I could stomach. When we returned to work, I googled ( Steak and Ale ).
It was started by one Norman E. Brinker, who among other things, invented the concept of the serve-yourself salad bar and later took the “Chili’s” chain to success. He also coached many executives in the restaurant industry and was indirectly responsible for such outrages as the “Applebees” chain, but I won’t hold that against him. When he died his business operations possessed assets of $4 Billion and employed 100,000 people.
His sister-in-law was Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer at the age of 39. Norm established the breast fund in her honor, and other charities as well.
My client was working on a tech report. I started relating details from the biography of Norman Brinker. He told me to get back to work, so I pretended to fiddle with the instrumentation while glancing at Norm Brinker information. I pull up ForbesWoman and find a Susan G. Komen essay, profiling of Nancy Brinker and her efforts to take the Komen initiative global. No mention of Norman E. Brinker. Then I get on the official “Susan G. Komen For the Cure” website and look for evidence of Norm amidst the surrounding clutter, but find nothing. I use their search function on “Norman E. Brinker”. Result : your search match any documents. I get back on Forbes Woman and post some stupid-ass comments, then remember that Price has requested full-on essays instead. So I recrafted the Komen comment and turned it into this essay.
Oh yeah, that reminds me. I suspect, but can’t say for certain, that the sea cucumber was responsible for vivid and disturbing erotic dreams throughout the night after I ate it. So I google ( sea cucumber ). It’s an invertebrate related to the starfish family and one of the oldest life forms, with many fascinating features that I will leave to the readers to explore.