The Best Thing Since
Woodruff and Bob weaved through the empty tables and sat down at a booth on the far end of the room.
“Unlockables,” Bob said.
“I’m listening,” Woodruff replied.
“Locks that unlock as you near them,” Bob said. “Your car, your house, your mailbox. You walk up and ‘click’ it unlocks.”
“How will the locks know it’s you?” Woodruff asked.
“An app on your phone?”
“What if somebody else has your phone?”
“A chip in your hand then.”
“Too New World Ordery.”
“Voice command, like Alexus.”
“Too big brother.”
Bob grimaced, as a tall perky blonde strode up to their booth.
“Welcome to Foodsters,” the server greeted. “My name is Bruce and I’ll be your foodineer today.”
“Hello, Bruce,” Bob said. “What are your feelings on an app that unlocks all your locks?”
“What if somebody steals your phone?” Bruce asked.
Woodruff silently gestured in agreement with the lanky waiter.
“Fine,” Bob muttered.
“What can I get for you fine foodventurers today?” Bruce asked.
“I’ll take the special,” Woodruff said.
“Did I already tell you about today’s special?” Bruce asked.
“Nope, just rolling the dice,” Woodruff replied. “I trust you, Bruce. Bring me something foodtastic.”
“You bet your fooding life on it,” Bruce said. “And for you?”
“I’ll roll the dice too,” Bob said. “Can I also get a water, with lemon.”
“Sure thing,” Bruce said. He finished a quick scribble on his notepad, spun on his heels, and returned to the kitchen through the swinging metal door.
“What about Snapbacks?” Woodruff said. “Elastic that doesn’t get all stretched out?”
“If that code could be cracked somebody would have done it already,” Bob said. “How about muffartlers? Underpants that muffle your farts.”
“It’d have to be thick.”
“What if they could absorb accidental tinkles too.”
“It happened one time!”
Bruce emerged through the swinging kitchen door with two glasses on a platter.
“Your waters, gentlemen,” Bruce said, and placed two clear glasses of ice water in front of them.
“Thank you very much Bruce,” Woodruff said. “Take it easy, Bob. You aren’t wearing your tinkle guard.”
Bob glowered at Woodruff, as he sank the lemon down through the ice cubes.
“My pleasure, gentlemen,” Bruce replied, with a bow. “Your specials will be up in just a few minutes.”
Bruce turned again and departed.
Woodruff sipped his water and Bob thoughtfully looked out through the window at the pedestrians passing by outside.
“You know when you think somebody is talking to you and it turns out they just have one of those Bluetooth ear pieces?” Bob asked.
“Yeah,” Woodruff said.
“What about an earpiece with LED lights that spin around on the top of their head like an emergency vehicle when they’re on the phone,” Bob said.
“That might be distracting,” Woodruff said. “Plus, it kinda defeats the purpose of the inconspicuous device.”
“Okay, what about a service that delivers food to your house?”
“Like pizza and Chinese food?”
“Yeah, but like all kinds of food.”
“They already have that. Grubhub, Door Dash, Uber Eats.”
“We truly live in an age of wonders,” Bob said.
“Indeed,” Woodruff agreed.
They both took sips from their glasses.
“How did we get started on this?” Bob asked.
“I wrote on my bucket list to discover something that would replace the expression ‘the best thing since sliced bread,” Woodruff replied.
“Right,” Bob said. “How about a pot that boils water BECAUSE you watch it?”
“Did you just come up with that because of the expression ‘a watched pot never boils’?”
“You’re better than that.”
Bob hung his head and Woodruff took another drink. A clang of dishes in the kitchen drew their attention for a moment, before the dining area fell silent again.
“Burn Cake,” Bob proclaimed. “A cake that burns calories as you eat it.”
“Um, I’m pretty sure you’re talking about magic,” Woodruff replied. “What about kineticar?”
“Kineticar?” Bob asked.
“Yeah, a car that runs on kinetic energy,” Woodruff said. “Someone gives you a push and away you go.”
“What about people with no friends?”
“A 12-hour work week,” Bob said. “That’s got to beat sliced bread.”
“Why twelve hours, why not ten or twenty?” Woodruff asked.
“That’s about all people really work anyway,” Bob replied. “The rest is just small talk, scrolling newsfeeds, filling up at the coffee pot or water cooler, and emptying out in the bathroom.”
“Bonus, with a 12-hour work week people could spend the rest of their time serving, learning, improving their community, and spreading peace and joy to the world.”
“Most people would just spend it watching Netflix or Disney+.”
The kitchen door swung open and Bruce shuffled to the table, with a full platter on his shoulder. He set down two steaming plates of shaved meat, one in front of each of them.
“Here you are,” Bruce said. “Today’s special, meat plate.”
“The special is called meat plate?” Woodruff asked.
“Yes, it’s a plate of meat,” Bruce replied. “We shave down all the leftover meat from last week and heat it on the griddle. Meat plate.”
“Our compliments to the chef,” Bob said, scooping up a pile of meat with his fork.
“Let me know if I can do you for anything else,” Bruce said, before spinning and departing again.
Woodruff stabbed a sliver of pork with his fork and chewed thoughtfully, while Bob continued his scooping technique on the varied meats heaped on his plate.
“A gameshow where politicians are voted off weekly, by text or by phone?” Woodruff said.
“Nah, nobody wants reality TV stars in Washington,” Bob replied, with a slab of beef hanging from his mouth. “What about waterproof paper?”
“Wouldn’t it also be ink proof?” Woodruff asked.
Bob grimaced and continued chewing up his mouthful of meat. Woodruff skewered a piece of ham, beef, pork, and chicken shavings, like a makeshift kabob, and swallowed it whole.
“Sugar Depot,” Bob proclaimed.
“You know when you go to bake a cake, or something, and you realize you don’t have any sugar?”
“Well we’d place little cabinets with sugar near every home so people can pop out real quick a get some sugar.”
“You mean like a neighbor?”
Bob pursed his lips and scrunched his forehead. Then, all at once, his eyebrows raised and he looked back across the table with a knowing smile. Woodruff sat up and leaned forward expectantly.
“Egg Depot,” Bob said. “Same problem, only we put one right in your yard.”
“That’s just a chicken coup,” Woodruff said.
“Okay, you know how you can never eat just one potato chip?”
“Well we sell a single chip, so you only get one. Problem solved.”
“No Waiting,” Bob said. “Like Disneyland Fast Pass, but for your life.”
Woodruff simply shook his head.
“Self-destructing junk mail,” Bob said. “Like Mission Impossible. You can just set it aside and it will self-destruct in seconds.”
“Sure, that would be super cool,” Woodruff said. “Be a touch impractical.”
“Hear me out.”
“You just settled into bed,” Bob continued, ignoring Woodruff’s protest. “You’re nice and cozy and, uh oh, you have to pee. Nobody wants to climb out of a comfy bed.”
“You can just slide open the drawer of your nightstand and inside is a porcelain lined…”
“Nightstand urinal,” Bob whispered.
“For your peepee.”
Bob folded his arms and pouted. Bruce returned with a padded black billfold.
“Here you are, gentlemen,” Bruce said. “I can take that whenever you’re ready. No rush. Feel free to continue your foodventure.”
“I think I’ve lost my appetite,” Woodruff said.
“Me too,” Bob sulked.
“Oh no, I’m sorry,” Bruce said. “Was something wrong with your meal?”
“No, it’s not the food,” Woodruff said. “Meat plate is amazing.”
“It’s the best thing since…” Bob paused. “Since…”
“The best thing since…,” Woodruff began. “Ya know, I can’t think of a foodvention better than meat plate.”
“Me neither,” Bob said.
“I’ll slice my own bread, thank you very much,” Bruce said. “Just give me a big ol’ plate of meat.”
“I’ll second that,” said Woodruff.
“Hear hear,” Bob agreed, raising his glass of ice water. “To meat plate.”
“To meat plate,” Woodruff and Bruce replied in unison.