• Richard Scrimger

in the kingdom of the bland


Meant to talk about subjunctives, but, you know, grammar discussions are not compelling. Even I don't care. So I thought I would share an odd dining experience I had this evening. A kind of negative dining. No, not what you think. (At least not yet.) It was more insubstantial than that.


A few years ago I lived in a condo with a pool (one of only two indoor pools in all Cobourg -- the other being at the YMCA). The condo, and, occasionally the pool, was filled with old people. And by old I mean real old. My kids think that thirty is old -- my fellow residents had bunions older than that. My point (I am coming to it) is that the water temperature in the condo pool was old-people-friendly, meaning a little bit warmer than blood heat, even at the height of a humid, non-air-conditioned summer, when y ou could raise a sweat walking from your deck chair to the water. Steam rose so thickly that poolside visibility was very poor. You'd lean over to put your toe in the water ... and lean farther ... and farther ... and find you were wet up to the knee. You couldn't tell when you'd hit the water because it was the same temperature, and about the same humidity, as the air and your body. I remember jumping in, reminding myself to hold my breath. Because the water felt like air, instinct told you you could breathe it. Very disorienting, is what it was. A kind of negative refreshing dip.


Which is the link to my dining experience. I bit into a sandwich this evening (the house specialty, no less) at a recently opened downtown restaurant and... I couldn't tell what I was eating. This wasn't a mystery meat; not a choice between chicken and pork, or anything and tofu. The bite had no taste whatsoever. It tasted like thick, chewy air. The bread was dry fluffy air. The filling was air that had bits of gristle in it, and got stuck between your teeth. I've had my share of bad mouthfuls -- restaurant and self cooked -- in my life but this was my first ever non-bite. I couldn't tell when I was done. I swallowed, and the non-taste in my mouth was still there. I had to hunt around inside to make sure there was no lurking morsel.


Weird.


The waitress came by to ask if everything was okay. I don't know, I said. I guess so. She nodded pleasantly.


When I left the restaurant I ran to the corner store for the kind of gum that promises Intense flavour. Usually it's too strong for me, but tonight I wanted my mouth to know it was alive.

Two more points, fast. 1. I don't know why the last post was in a bigger font. I must have pressed something inadvertantly the other day. 2. I have had bad mouthfuls in restaurants and at home, but never -- no never -- at my mom's. There. I felt I had to say that.

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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada