Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Land of Milk and Honey Wheat Ale

After living in Boulder for a short time now, I discovered that there are basically four major inhabitants; college students, conservative entrepreneurs, liberal vegetarians, and prairie dogs. The liberals teach the students, the students work for the entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurs sells back to the liberals. The prairie dogs are saved by the liberals, threatened by the entrepreneur, and aerate the soil for the students in which to grow their herbal ‘medicine’. It’s the circle of life.
            Last week, we were down at the more liberal end of Boulder (we go there every now and zen—ba dum bum), for an early dinner. In this part of town you will find all the vegan stores. In fact, many of the locals have that healthy, yet extremely anemic, look from not touching a pork chop in years.
            The place we choose was a new age brew house. That means lots of local microbrews on tap and a menu consisting of kasha, lentils, and couscous. The rationale is that you are supporting the local economy and fair trade all in one meal. It’s Happy Hour with a conscience, because eating just based on hunger is not enough here.
            When the bill arrived I took out my wallet and was ready to pay when the waiter informed me they don’t take credit cards, only cash and checks. Before ATMs, if you found yourself in a situation like this it usually ended up with a trip to the kitchen for some first hand dishwashing. Finding myself short of funds, the waiter presented me with a self addressed stamped envelope and the check. “We would appreciate it if you would just mail it in.” He then handed me the only copy of the bill. “You mean you don’t have a copy of the check?” I asked incredulously. I couldn’t believe he was just going to let us walk out of there.
            He shot me back a look that showed no amusement whatsoever. He continued in a very righteous tone “We rely on karma and trust our guests to do the right thing.”
            “Oh sure, karma. I got ya,” and stuffed the bill into my bag of leftovers which was overflowing with ancient grains from our breadbasket. We proceeded to head out, turning our heads left and right to see if this was really happening. Once outside the restaurant (where there was an ATM by the way) my wife asked me “You are going to pay it, aren’t you?”
            “What am I some sort of sap?” I told her. “We can live like kings here. Imagine, eating for free every day! Why, I change my facial hair so often now that they would never recognize me.” The pained look on my wife’s face said it all.
            “But what about your karma for not paying?” she asked.
            “Karma? I thought that’s how you said ‘goodbye’ in those places? You know like, Have a happy karma, come again, that sort of thing. Anyway, maybe we’re talking about his karma,” I said trying to convince myself. “Did you ever think it was his bad karma that he should open a restaurant and have me for a patron? If you’re so worried about karma why don’t you pay it?” We passed the bill back and forth like a game of hot potato all the way home. Later, when my wife was asleep, I slipped the bill and the envelope into her pile of mail and ran away like an eight-year-old little girl from a frog. It was the perfect crime. Next week I’m going back as a Hindu priest!

Look #164 Greek olive peddler.

Besides stiffing restaurants, I found a new vocation that I was born for. I started sending in reviews to Trip Advisor. Seems I have a knack for complaining. Who knew, besides everyone in my life that is? My reviews have gotten a good deal of exposure. And why not? They’re pithy, I mean just full of pits, and short. I think it’s the short part more than any writing gymnastics that earns a nod. Here’s a typical review on the Hotel Cezanne in France.
“Keeping that French attitude alive!”

The only black spot in an otherwise wonderful trip to France last year was the Hotel Cezanne in Aix. My wife, who had booked our room for three people months before our trip, called the morning we were to arrive to confirm our reservations. Even though she told them that we would arrive late in the day, they assured us it was no problem. Our room, however, was given away. With no where else to go the three of us had to share a queen-size bed in an incredibly small room. The next night we found a room at Hotel Roi René that was larger, cleaner, and offered a wonderful pool in the courtyard. BTW: Nearly everyone we met in France was gracious and cordial, except of course at Hotel Cezanne.
Room Tip: One at another hotel.

If only I could get paid for my view of the world’s hotels and food establishments. Ahhh, to dream…

I’m back to plein air painting. This does NOT warrant a critique! This is done by Boulder Creek just west of town.