*Luckily, the two events were hundreds of miles and a couple days apart. I imagine wedding pictures might not go well if the groom was gawking as the cheer squad worked to loosen up their hamstrings.
The lunchlady-looking Maid Rite employee with supersonic hearing
I hope, dear reader, that you have seen the Saturday Night Live sketch where Adam Sandler sings "Lunch Lady Land" as Chris Farley plays the role of the song's protagonist. If not, you will just have to imagine a hefty man dressed up in an apron, wearing a brunette wig and a hairnet; that's the lunchlady. Now, picture this lunchlady 20 years later and you have the woman behind the counter at Maid Rite*. The woman actually kind of reminded me of mother of the criminal family in "The Goonies." She also approached her job with the zest of someone performing court-ordered community service.
*Fun fact: Maid Rite does not offer maid service, nor does it serve any flavor of Rite soda... The Writings: We're here to educate.
Lunchlady Doris took our orders* then went back to prepare the food (apparently Maid Rite is all about multitasking). After what seemed to be 45 minutes, but was probably closer to 9 (though, in Maid Rite's spirit of multitasking, she may have run out to change the oil in her car while the food cooked), she returned with our food. As my coworkers and I walked toward the door, one realized that we might need ketchup. Under his breath, he joked that we should just take one of the restaurant's ketchup bottles. It was a very quiet remark. So quiet, in fact, that I had to be filled in on what he said later on. Nevertheless, the queen of the fryer - now back behind the counter and 25 feet away - yelled our way "I put ketchup packets with your fries." Sure, it was probably a case of impeccable timing, rather than an exhibition of the type of hearing that any being would be jealous of, but I was not about to whisper anything in order to test it.
*Note for all: The Maid Rite menu is a deceiving one. At no point does the menu list details on what a Maid Rite sandwich actually is. The author assumed it was a hamburger, and when the lunchlady asked if I'd like ketchup, mustard, pickle and onion on it, I was nearly sure that was the case. Naturally, I was pretty surprised when I hopped back in the rented Jeep, and unwrapped my sandwich only to find a glorified sloppy joe. Such culinary works are not exactly ideal for road travel.
The fight crowd, plus the one girl who had sense
Saturday night, my cohorts and I wandered to a Champaign eatery. Once there, we discovered it was fight night. A UFC pay-per-view event was taking place at that very time, and this locale was a hot spot for fight fans. It turned out that we were about the only three folks in the place that had not come specifically to watch punches, kicks, and chokeholds. I'm still not sure that watching a guy's face bleed makes for great dinner entertainment, but it seemed on Saturday that such views were definitely in the minority. Every single television in the place was tuned to the UFC event; there was not a baseball game or even live coverage of a Canasta tournament to be found. When one fighter took another down with a leg-sweep, the folks rooted like they had just seen a 99-yard touchdown. When blood dripped inside the UFC octagon, the viewers cheered as if their winning Powerball numbers had just been read. And when one competitor was forced to tap out because another had contorted him in a way that would make Gumby cry, nearly everyone in the joint roared as if their favorite team had just won the Olympics, Super Bowl and World Series all at once. It was intense.
The crowd was a diverse one. I saw buzzcuts and tattoos, mullets and tattoos, braided beards and tattoos, and motorcycle jackets and tattoos. Oh yeah, and there I sat in my polo shirt and cargo shorts. I fit in about as well as the guy allergic to body paint at the tryouts for the Blue Man Group.*
*The Writings: Where else can you go for references that actually make it seem like the Blue Man Group is worth paying attention to?
I soon noticed, however, that I was not the only square peg in the room. One table over, a young woman sat, head resting on her arm with a glazed look in her eyes and a "how the hell did I end up here" look adorning her face. It was the type of body language typically reserved for college-level accounting classes. While the rest of her table hooted and hollered intelligent things like "Whoa" and "You see that?" this girl looked like she might soon attempt to see how close she could come to jabbing her fork into her retina.
Luckily for all involved, the girl with sense did not follow such urges. After all, knowing the crowd in the place, the violence probably would have been met with applause.