If you’ve never been to a hibachi place, let me be the one that talks you into trying one. For those of you not in the know, a hibachi restaurant is a place where a teppanyaki chef prepares your meal on a large iron grill in front of you. Very Japanese and very cool. You get the typical beef, shrimp, chicken and lobster offerings and more rice and noodles than you can shake your chop sticks at.
The big attraction is the show put on by the chef. He hurls cutlery everywhere, tossing eggs in his giant hat and making flaming onions volcanoes that nearly burn your eyebrows off if you happen to be looking down at the wrong moment. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a better way to spend an hour with close friends.
I had three of them with me: Groin, Donuts, and Nickels. The four of us plopped down in front of the grill and immediately let it be known to our diminutive hostess that whatever waitress she had in mind had better be a sturdy lass and ready to start slinging sake the moment she approached us.
That’s when the first obstacle to a fun evening arrived in the form of an awkward couple that was brought over to our teppan and seated next to us. They were young and kind of attractive in a stuffy and completely unattractive way. The girl looked like the type that had us wondering if her uptight date had thought to bring the jaws of life with him in the car because that’s exactly the type of equipment he’d need later if he harbored any hopes of getting those thighs apart.
Despite their sour-puss faces and almost-matching sweater vests we decided to soldier on and have a good time anyway. Our chef clearly appreciated our good-natured ribbing and spot-on Japanese impersonations, so much so that he nearly put out Groin’s eye with an errant hunk of zucchini. His aim improved as he went around the table, as we all opened our mouths, and flicked in a piece of the aforementioned morsel.
Then he got to Mr. Excitement who somehow took the zucchini-catching as a litmus test of his manhood and proceeded to miss each and every chunk of Z that was sent his way. Each time the chef would then look over to his date as if to say that it was her turn and each time Mr. E would wave him back with his mouth stretched to such a degree that some of us wondered if there wasn’t a little bass in the family tree.
Soon we were all waist-deep in lumps of Z and you could see the kitchen staff scrambling to find more ammunition for their beleaguered comrade. Nickels got the bright idea of reusing some of the unsuccessful vegetation that had found its way to the floor and soon there was a shower of green missiles headed the way of Mr. E’s gaping maw.
Finally a small piece of something, it might have been a pen cap, made its way into his mouth and down into his esophagus where it seemed to lodge itself and cause him to turn red and flail and knock over a few bowls of various dipping sauces. As he clutched his throat there was a tremendous eruption of applause as the entire place seemed to have been watching the drama unfold at our table and was relieved that it had come to a successful conclusion.
Meanwhile Donuts, brimming with sake-induced charm and realizing that her date was preoccupied choking to death, had sidled up next to the kind of attractive in a stuffy and completely unattractive way female and began to engage in what we bachelor-types like to call “small talk.”
“So I have a problem,” he began.
It was not his only problem judging from her reaction.
“You see, I bought this gift for a friend’s wife … for her baby shower. It was this baby diary, you see.”
Donuts was having a problem keeping her full attention as her date was slowly recovering from his near-death-by-zucchini experience.
“Every day you make an entry. It had places to stick in pictures and pockets and whatnot. Really expensive.”
He threw back another sake as her date got back into his chair.
“Here’s my problem. The bitch smothered the kid after three days. Post-parnub … partnub … panub … depression or whatnot.”
He finally had her attention.
“The thing is, you have to wonder if she even used the book. Sounds like she had other things on her mind. What are the odds she wrote “I swear … I’m going to kill this little prick if he doesn’t shut up” on Day 1? You know what I mean?”
She made it clear that she didn’t know what he meant.
Her date began to get interested in the story though.
In a bad way.
“So here’s the problem: Do I ask my friend for it back? He’s busy with the trial and all … but $39 is $39 right?”
Nickels fell off his chair laughing.
Mr. E was unamused. And that’s stating his mood generously. Fear not though Dear Reader. Events conspired to save good ol’ Donuts from a beating.
What the helpful chef didn’t realize- and I will get to why he was helpful in just a tick- was that Groin was a veteran of the hibachi productions staged at this particular venue and knew from experience that the plastic bottle with the normal top contained the accelerant and the bottle with the top that made it appear that the liquid was coming from the penis of the laughing boy sitting atop the bottle contained water. One was used to create the onion volcano and the latter to good-naturedly squirt the patrons.
Groin had switched the tops.
This would be a good time to fill in the detail of what made the chef helpful. Seeing the angry boyfriend mulling over the various violent options he had in store for Donuts the helpful chef decided to ease the tension by playfully sprayed him with the contents of the what-he-thought-was-water-but-was-instead-the-very-flammable-liquid bottle.
If we thought the flaming onion was neat trick, you should have seen our faces when the kind of attractive in a stuffy and completely unattractive way gentleman in the sweater vest went up. His attempts to quickly run to the men’s room to put himself out were met with limited success due to the copious amounts of zucchini littering the floor and his feet’s inability to find traction on anything but.
Even the chef was beside himself with laughter.
Merriment ruled the day and made paying the rather exorbitant tab a lot easier to swallow.
I swear on all that is holy that this is almost a true story.
All but the part about paying the bill.