Ever drive past Irises and the Pepper on City Hall Place or Olive Ridley’s on Court Street and feel the urge to reach out the window and grab a cheeseburger, perhaps some seared tuna or maybe even a plateful of burritos?
My throat once experienced its own drought and I nearly swiped a sweaty glass of Switchback when I recalled, sitting behind the wheel of my Subaru Outback, drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal. What should be illegal is modeling that beer inches from my car window.
If you are wondering what I’m ranting about, it’s outdoor seating at area eateries. A few of our local establishments have set up shop in parking spots along well-traveled streets.
It’s a yearly tradition. The snow melts, though this year it never really fell, the sun warms the outside, spring blossoms color the area, trees and grass go green, and restaurants slap tables and chairs in parking spots along the street.
The first time I saw this I thought, “cool,” followed by, “I want that Philly Cheese Steak,” which, as I drove by, was replaced by, “I think I could actually reach out my window and grab that Philly Cheese steak.” I haven’t tried yet, but every time I drive by I wonder.
A few times I have seen friends and considered high fiving them on the way by, but I know I’d pull a, “heehee, you’re too slow,” and grab the plate of spaghetti. It’s especially difficult to restrain myself when it’s a plate of chocolate cake dripping with syrup, or deep fried ice cream.
There is a barrier between myself and the patrons in the form of jersey barricades, which restaurant employees kindly paint. But the cement barriers are barely knee high and really are only meant to stop a car from blasting into the tables on the off chance a passing driver sneezes or is texting and doesn’t see the car in front of him or her stop.
The barrier does not in any way mean your food is safe if I should cave when your calamari enters my eyesight.
I’ll get serious now and admit I am exaggerating. No, I’m straight up lying, because I in no way am going to nab and consume your food. I am not going to reach out my window as I pass, or force my 17-year-old daughter to do it under the threat of being grounded if she doesn’t, and steal your tasty steak.
But it’s not because I can’t. I’m definitely sticking to the fact I can reach out and grab that plate off your table. C’mon, you’re sitting in a parking space alongside a busy road.
The reason I am not going to steal your food is pollution and contamination.
I drove by the eateries recently and wondered as a bird passed overhead, “Is it going to drop a bomb in that man’s plate?”
Birds do that. I have been pooped on while eating at a barbecue more than once, twice while running and definitely on the beach. What’s to stop birds from pooping on your food? They are circling overhead at the first chance to eat it. How much longer do you think the moldy diaper from the trash they fought over earlier that day will remain in their intestines?
And what about exhaust? When you open your mouth to bite into an enchilada, do you also chew on the black cloud my muffler coughs up. I know my muffler is vomiting a thick cloud of blackness because I refuse to cave to the automobile industry’s service scam and fix my exhaust.
I’ll buy a hybrid before I give them the satisfaction of fixing the faulty product they put on my car.
Speaking of hybrids. A friend of mine was talking about the death of the electric car and how big oil is behind it and will wipe out the Middle East and Canada for oil before they allow affordable electric cars to be built.
Another fact is that nationwide oppression, inadequate health care and climate change are not inspiration enough to get Americans off their couches in numbers that could affect change.
But Americans love to eat, and they love to show off. Outdoor seating provides an outlet for both simultaneously.
So gather your outdoor parking space eating friends, march on Washington and demand affordable electric cars.
In the end, we both win. I get a new hybrid and you can stop swallowing exhaust when you are trying to enjoy the French fries you just dipped in ketchup.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.