Yesterday my usual lunch partner and I went to Nit Noi, a recently opened Thai restaurant very close to the office. We had soft spring rolls, a soup featuring coconut milk and lemon grass, and a chicken pad thai. The restaurant is small, charming, well lit and features large photographic scenes from Thailand. The service is quick and efficient and, most importantly, the food is very, very good.
Today my lunch partner was "tied up" with some business activity (really, why can't people get their priorities straight?) so I called my pal Larry who's always available for lunch. Just like me.
"Yo, Larry, have you been to that new Thai place on Dairy Ashford, Nit Noi?"
"Hey, babe, love the enthusiasm, love the enthu-si-asm! Tell you what, I'll drive, I'll select the best stuff to eat, I'll eat it and you pay."
"Look, dude, I'm doing three things and you're doing one. All right, all right! You can eat, too. How 'bout it?"
That's Larry for you, hard to get in a word edge-wise.
We met up in the hallway and moseyed out to the truck. I nattered on about Thai food, peanut sauce and the best way to grow lemon grass. Larry moseyed. Larry's probably about the best moseyer I know. At his pace, by the time we got to the truck I had finished with Thailand and was halfway through India. However, I cut short my culinary tour of India lest we get distracted and end up at the Bombay Buffet. I have only recently recovered from the last time we went there and ate 50 lbs of curry. There are people in the office who still give me "that look."
As we pulled into the Nit Noi parking lot I spied several empty slots. Great, we beat the crowd! Sure enough there were lots of empty tables. We eased into a couple of chairs and checked out the menu.
"Go ahead and check out the menu, but I already know what we're getting. No argument. You're going to love it," I enthused.
Our waiter materialized to take our drinks order and I ordered lunch. Same as yesterday: spring rolls, soup, pad thai.
With a loud POP our waiter appirated into the kitchen to place our order and I knew delights would be coming soon. Meanwhile, I hadn't seen Larry for a while so there was some catching up to do.
"How 'bout those Astros?"
"Huh?" Larry replied.
"Just kidding, old bud, just kidding," and I went into my theories of declining oil reserves, global warning, Africanized bees in South Texas, the inherent problems of anthropomorphic robot design, house paint formulations, the effect of fire ants on declining tick populations and a brief essay on what the Harry Potter novels would be like if they had been written by Charles Dickens.
Larry nodded occasionally.
Shortly, food arrived and we were enveloped in delicate aromas of basil, lemon grass, fish sauce and peanut. Remarkable! The soup is a little tricky to eat because it has slices of green onion, asparagus and lemon grass which look very much alike. Lemon grass, though, is tough like a twig and you have to be on your toes to avoid crunching down on it.
Between pauses to pick lemon grass stems out of my mouth I led discussions on how to use game theory to predict when everybody is going to decide to check-out at Kroger's, the effect of emoticons on writing skills, sexual preferences of Sims characters and the best way to lay a wood flooring in a humid environment.
Larry nodded occasionally.
I continued with an exposition Houston drivers, the hummingbird that pierced my cat's ear and how I finally got rid of a planters wart on my left foot.
I noticed that Larry had finished his lunch while I still had three-quarters to go. "Man, you must have been hungry!" I remarked.
Sensing a gap in the conversation I filled it with several humorous stories about my experiences at a tomahawk throwing school this summer. "And would you believe it? It just went *thunk* right into the target. Dead center. I took 50 or so pictures of it. Hey, I'll bring them in tomorrow and show you."
Larry checked his watch. I took the hint.
"Yeah, we better get going. That couple by the door have been staring at our table for half an hour", I noted.
The waiter materialized with our bill, Larry paid as per contract and in two shakes we were back in the truck and heading to the office. With exquisite timing I finished a discussion on refinishing kitchen cabinets - gloss or stain - and, as luck would have it, snagged a parking place close to the building. Woo hoo! Double score: great lunch and a close parking space.
We moseyed back to the office and I bid Larry farewell at the stairway.
"Hey, dude, great lunch, great conversation. Catch you later!"
"Uh huh," said Larry and he disappeared up the stairs.
Back at the office I called my lunch partner and told her I had gone to Nit Noi, again!, with Larry.
"How was it?" she asked.
"The food was superb, as usual, but you know the best thing about going to lunch with Larry?"
"No, what?" she replied.
"He's such a great conversationalist."