--  a podcast and website dedicated to anecdotal cooking as expressed through my poetry and foodstuff --  a podcast and website dedicated to anecdotal cooking as expressed through my poetry and foodstuff listings.

ANECDOTE 008: October 1, 2006 [listen]
Stressing Circumstantials

Eddie and I frequent a fine fast-food restaurant for chicken nuggets and chocolate milk. I regularly order the #2 (small) with a soda. Over the summer, during several visits, either Eddie or I have spilt the milk by placing the plastic bottle on an uneven surface due to a french-fry or a catsup packet, or a straw, or a tray bevel. We have spilt the milk by reaching across the table, knocking over the bottle in the process. We have also by poorly grasping the bottle, thus slipping through the fingers. The milk usually spilt all over the table, the chair, Eddie, and the faux clay-tiled floor--making a mess.

Napkins galore, I would swab the eight-ounce spill before crying would occur by the restaurant staff, who have developed a keen sense for surveilling this type of incident. However, Eddie would become upset. Why? This toddler cried like a baby, not because of the loss of beverage, but because of his soiled clothes--dampened and discolored. Fortunately, there was a change of clothes in the car--a habit from his infancy days. Alternatively, if we were en route to his grandmother's house for a wade in the pool, we had a swimsuit as a quick solution.

Eddie and I were on a good spill-run, so we decidedly alternated restaurant locations to fulfill our chicken nugget and #2 cravings, hoping that the surveillance team had not connected the messy trail dots….

Becoming more parentally experienced, I have taken to asking for a small paper cup with a lid because for some reason the design of the bottle is conducive to toppling over at the slightest touch; the rounded edges at the base of the bottle might be a factor. I cautiously step through the process for the transfer from bottle to cup.

I open the slender cylinder plastic bottle of chocolate milk. I pour the milk into the crisply edged, inverted conical frustum-shaped paper cup. I put on the seal-tight lid, and insert a straw through the perforated hole in the center of the lid. Now the chocolate milk has been insolated in the best spill-resistant container on-sight.

This is not rocket science! However, there is a lot of engineering and design involved for this seemingly common bottle and cup, let alone the mechanics that take place to mold the plastic and shape the paper into their present form. But just, let's not go there!!!


Eddie's taste buds are developing. He is distinguishing liquid flavors. Eddie enjoys chocolate milk as does he soda. Over the last several fast-food feasts, Eddie has requested to "taste" the chocolate milk with the soda. I, not interested in playing the mixologist, recommended that he experiment by taking a sip of milk, then a sip of soda, then swish the two liquids in his mouth. Eddie's experiment went well for him to the extent that each time we sit down to begin the nugget meal, he requests to conduct the "dual sip" test.

On this last feast, however, the experiment went awry. As Eddie was engrossed with sipping then swishing, he placed the cup of soda on the edge of the table. The drink immediately fell to the floor, which for some reason was carpeted. Carpeted!?! Who was the rocket scientist that came up with the idea to carpet the floor of a fast-food restaurant??? Forget the rocket scientist. Should not we blame the social engineer who is attempting to design a more intimate space and experience?

Such questions fleeted through my mind as I tried to determine how best to clean the spill without notifying the restaurant HAZMAT team for fear of being banned. [I'm still traumatized from the spousal reprimands for coffee spillage at home.] Realizing that there were surveillance cameras recording this event, I promptly picked up the ice off the brown and blue patterned carpet.

After reminding Eddie that drinks get placed on the table, not on the floor, I ran up to the condiment stand to get some napkins to blot the liquid twenty-ounces from the carpet. When I returned, for what was like eleven seconds later, the spill seemingly disappeared. Did the soda soak into the carpet, or did the carpet absorb the soda? I stepped on the spot where the spill had occurred; there was no squishy sound. I touched the area with my fingers: relatively damp. I looked up to Eddie. I did not think he took a straw to the spill and slurped up the reservoir. Eeewww!!! Too gross for words, and not plausible given the timeframe. So, I wondered what happened.

Amazing how the carpet handled the spill: no need to alert the authorities; no need to worry about an unsightly stain; no need to worry about customers slipping and falling and…. Total risk management. This carpet offered a win-win solution for the lax consumer as well as corporate legal. Relieved, I went back to enjoying the rest of my meal, dry mouthed, without the tasty liquid refreshment.

Now, I know there is no need for such carpeting in outer space, so I cannot thank the rocket scientist, but do I want to acknowledge the social engineer who took into consideration intimacy and experience when designing the carpet--because circumstantial stress was soothed.

Feel free to exercise thought by sending me an email regarding preparation nuances. Be sure to experiment with flavor--and remember, eat your mistakes, uh, ingredients. (Disclaimer)
Copyright © 2006 by Edward K. Brown II, All Rights Reserved