You Can’t Get Mad From A Turnip
“It really is a versatile vegetable,” Bob said.
“You can say that again,” Woodruff mumbled with a mouth full of salad.
“But I didn’t say that,” Bob replied, as he shoved another fork full into his mouth.
Woodruff eyed his friend and shook his head.
“You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it,” Bob continued as a half-eaten turnip rolled around in his pie hole. “Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried, flayed, cabbaged. There’s turnip-kabobs, turnip gumbo, turnip tacos, pineapple turnips, lemon turnips, coconut turnips, bacon turnips, turnip soup, turnip stew, turnip salad, turnip and potatoes, turnip burger, turnip sandwich, turnip pie…”
Bob swallowed his thoroughly chewed turnip remains and raised an eyebrow as he searched the deepest recesses of his turnip culinary database.
“That’s about it,” he concluded.
“Plus, it’s fun to say,” Woodruff added.
“Totally,” Bob agreed. “Turnip, Turn up, Turniiiip.”
“Tuuuuuurnip,” Woodruff chimed in. “TurNIP, turnip-turnip-turnip.”
They laughed hysterically and Bob wiped at a piece of turnip shrapnel that escaped from Woodruff’s mouth and landed on his cheek. A short stocky bald man, with a scowl on his face, emerged from the kitchen wearing an apron and carrying a tray. The man tossed two plates of turnip tacos in front of them and began to pick up the tower of plates collecting at the center of the table.
“No, wait,” Bob said. “We’re stacking those so we can see how many platefuls we’ve eaten.”
The man grunted and set the stack back down on the table. He turned and stomped back toward the swinging kitchen door.
“Thank you, my good man,” Woodruff called to the back of the man’s head. “I think we’ll try the bacon wrapped turnips next.”
There was a crash on the other side of the swinging door as the man in the apron kicked it open and marched into the kitchen.
“I think he’s mad,” Bob said. They paused and admired their tower of empty plates that nearly reached the ceiling.
“Hey, don’t hang up a sign if you don’t mean it,” Woodruff said, and pointed to the All-You-Can-Eat Turnips sign in the front window.
“What’s my credo, Woodruff?”
“Omne omnes vos-potest manducare signum est provocatione te dignum est.”
“That’s right,” Bob said. “Every all-you-can-eat sign is a challenge to meet it.”
“Credo’s also fun to say.”
“You gotta have a credo.”
“That’s actually my credo.”
“Mm,” Woodruff said. “These turnip tacos are amazing.”
“You said it.”
“No I didn’t.”
Woodruff and Bob furrowed their brows and surveyed one another for a moment. When Bob consumed the last turnip taco Woodruff turned around and looked back toward the kitchen door.
“How long do you think it takes to wrap a turnip with bacon?”
“Dunno,” Bob said, after he swallowed his last bite. “Hey Woodruff?”
“I’m toying with the idea of going by Robbie.”
“But then we’d have to change our logo.”
The scowling man in the apron returned from the kitchen and laid a pair of bacon wrapped skewers on the table. The bacon was still sizzling when Bob scooped up the skewer nearest him and popped it in his mouth.
“Oh!” Bob yelped. “Hot!”
“That’s it,” the man said with a frown.
“What’s it?” Woodruff asked.
“The turnips,” the man said. “They’re finished.”
“Geez,” Bob moaned. “I t’ink I burn’d my to’gue.”
“They seem nice and finished,” Woodruff said. “Might we get some turnip ice cream for my friend’s tongue.”
“We’re out!” shouted the man. “It’s done, gone, caput, no more turnips!”
“No more turnips?” Woodruff asked.
“What’s the matter with you two?” the man demanded. “Nobody eats that many turnips. It’s a gimmick. It’s supposed to bring people in. They think, ‘Oh, All-You-Can-Eat’ so they come in and pay seven fifty and then remember after the first plate that they don’t like turnips. That sign has worked for twenty-eight years, until you two came along!”
He stormed off to the kitchen and briefly got his apron caught in the swinging door. Bob gulped down the glass of chocolate goat milk next to his plate.
“What’s his deal?” Woodruff asked.
“Dunno,” Bob said. “So, was that a no on the turnip ice cream?”
“I think so.”
“Well then, this goat’s milk is a life saver.”
“It’s a good thing we brought old Delilah.”
“And Mr. Scowling Face threw such a fit when we milked her,” Bob said and patted the black and white goat on the head.
“I bet he feels foolish now.”
“He should,” Bob said. “No turnip ice cream when you’re serving scolding hot bacon. That’s irresponsible.
“So, why Robbie?” Woodruff asked.
“It makes me sound younger,” Bob replied.
“But you are young.”
“Yeah, but if I sounded younger I could get into the movies at the kid’s rate.”
“That doesn’t sound right.”
“Sure it does,” Bob said. “Hello, sir, welcome to the cinema. Then I say, ‘The name’s Robbie.’ and then he says, ‘Oh, pardon me, I thought you were older. That’ll be a dollar twenty-five.’ Boom, kid’s rate.”
“I don’t know, Bob,” Woodruff said as he shook his head. “What movie are you going to see?”
“The youth are all about period piece docudramas,” Bob said. “Maybe something with Steve Buscemi or Elizabeth McGovern. You know, on fleece.”
“Fleek,” Woodruff corrected.
“Like spitting?” Bob asked. He stood up and pushed his chair back under the table.
“No, that’s gleek.”
“I thought that was a Glee fan.”
“Oh right,” Woodruff said. He pushed his chair in and took hold of Delilah’s leash. “What were we talking about?”
“We should leave a nice tip.”
“Good idea,” Bob said. He took a marker from his pocket and wrote on a napkin. “Keep bananas fresher by wrapping the stems in plastic wrap.”
“That’s a good tip,” Woodruff said.
The man in the apron stepped out from behind the swinging door with a Polaroid camera. He walked up to Woodruff and Bob, who were standing next to the leaning tower of plates while Delilah chewed on the tablecloth. The man growled as he raised the camera and a blindly light flashed in their eyes. A card printed out the bottom and the man angrily shook it as he moved behind the counter. With a thumbtack, he pinned the picture next to a red sign above the cash register that said ‘We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone’.
“Sweet!” Woodruff and Bob cheered in unison.
“We got our picture on the wall,” Bob said.
“We’re gonna be famous,” Woodruff replied.
Bob pulled open the front door and they stepped out onto the sidewalk with Delilah trailing behind them.
“You wanna see a movie or something?” Woodruff said.
“Can I be Robbie?”
“Robbie doesn’t make you sound younger, it makes you sound unemployable.”
“Jeff Weiner once called me unemployable at a charity auction for A Cappella without Borders.”
“What movie should we see?”
“Sun Valley 10 is playing She’s Having a Baby for Totally 80’s Thursdays,” Bob said.
“Done and done.”
“Meh eheheh eh,” Delilah bleated.