Susan Luzzaro 4:30 p.m., Dec. 11
His hair was blonde and curly, creeping over the collar of his expensive shirt. He looked at us expectantly distracted briefly by a groan from the crowd at the other end of the bar.
The young waiter slid the “shrimp salad” in front of me. One crispy leaf of iceberg lettuce centered on the plate with about 12 shrimp, each about the diameter of a beer bottle. On the side, slightly tilted from its perch on the curled edge of the lettuce, sat a tablespoon sized paper cup overflowing with dark red cocktail sauce.
That’ll be $1.75 the bartender said, and we both looked up at the same time.
You’re kidding, the blonde said, flashing his Rolex as he grabbed the neck of his beer and took a swig. I glanced over, picked up my knife and sliced the crispy pale green leaf into strips. It was delicious, even though I would never be caught dead eating iceberg anywhere else in public.
Captain Keno’s is that kind of place. It’s been around forever. To me that means since I was a puppy in the 70s, I think I’ve walked in there maybe 4 or 5 times in 40 years, and 3 of those times in the last two years. You could order a manhattan in here and they wouldn't look twice. You could also order cheap whiskey straight up at 10:00am on a Sunday morning. If you felt like it.
I expected it to smell like stale beer and cigarettes, decades of stale beer and cigarettes, but either they figured out how to mask it or get rid of it, or I’ve lost my sense of smell, because all I noticed was the absence of any expected smell. And the smell of food offerings that aren't listed in my weight watchers points plus guide on my iphone.
The wood paneling and the vintage girly glass chandeliers in the dining area near the restroom are eerie, but cooly retro garish, like a candle illuminated Halloween pumpkin sitting at the end of a lonely road. I will book this room for my 75th birthday (if I live that long) . There were four of us now, gathered around the east end of the bar, talking to the air, lost in contemplation, the sound of a “game” on the TV overhead.
Here you go, it was the waiter again, with my main meal. I had originally ordered something that sounded vaguely healthy- like fish and chips, but changed my mind when I saw the $4.95 meatloaf meal and sent my friend back to the kitchen to change the order.
A giant plate with a 2x4 slab of dense juicy meatloaf, 1/3 plate of perfectly comforting mashed potatoes, and the rest covered with the sweet yellow corn that comes from a can. I grew up with that corn. I get cravings. Sometimes.
The entire plate was covered in thick brown gravy. A , smaller plate with mixed greens and a healthy ladle full of creamy dressing arrived magically in front of me. I was completely infatuated My eyes were drawn to my meal.
The handsome blonde looked right at me and said “you’re going to die. My wife would kill me if I ordered that."