[ToC]

 

PAUL FRANKLY'S CONVERSATION MENUS, INC. DOWNTOWN IRISH RESTAURANT/PUB (CHAIN, NATIONAL) AFTER WORK

Alex Moody

 

Paul Frankly's Conversation Menus come in a variety of styles. You've chosen our very first, and most popular, menu: DOWNTOWN IRISH RESTAURANT/PUB (CHAIN, NATIONAL) AFTER WORK. Simply select an appetizer, salad, entree, and dessert before passing your menu to a companion or passerby.
      Please make sure to try our other menus, including WINERY WEDDING RECEPTION, BAR/BAT MITZVAH, MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL GAME—RAIN DELAY, or the cost-effective THANKSGIVING/CHRISTMAS WITH FAMILY COMBO PACK, all available online or at distinguished bookstores nationwide.

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DOWNTOWN IRISH RESTAURANT/PUB (CHAIN, NATIONAL) AFTER WORK

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APPETIZERS


Casual

Long time no see, (insert name, for example, "Chad,") ________!


Burdened

Crazy day. Seven meetings. One migraine. Alimony due. And how was your day?


Deflection (mild)

I was just thinking of calling you!


Deflection (hot)

I can't help it if you didn't get my e-mail. I know I hit "Send."


Avoidance

Oh, shit, there's that (choose one: guy, girl, dentist, cashier) I told you about. Don't look.


Scrambled rationale

I'm sorry I couldn't make it to the party last night. I was... choose activity:

sick, taking my cat to the vet, stuck talking to my mom/dad on the phone, asleep due to the side effects of allergy medicine, called back to work for something (choose severity: very, very very, very very very) important that I cannot describe specifically.

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SALADS


Commonality

How is your dog, Roger? Ricky? How is Ricky? I had a dog once. Brown. Medium fur, didn't shed much. Barked at the telephone and scared of house flies.


Change of heart

I don't really have time for this, sorry.


Style

Did you do something with your hair? How much did that cost? Oh, is that rude of me to ask? I'm sorry. But I'm curious, because I could see doing something like that myself if it wasn't too much, like twenty-five dollars.


Miscommunication

That is hilarious! I'm so sorry. I totally had you confused with my niece, and she's the one who got herpes in Peru.


Memory

Yeah, it has been a long time. Fourteen years! The last time I saw you, you were passed out on a couch and you owed me money for the tickets to the Phoenix Suns game against the Washington Bullets that time the ice under the hardwood caused condensation and they had to cancel the game. Remember that night? Yes, you were so drunk.

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ENTREES


Purpose

Well, I'm trying to integrate a new type of router into the network. What it does, what it offers, is the ability to use a different type of optics. With these new optics, basically the receptors for a piece of fiber-optic cable, they can use different wavelengths of light to transmit data so you can get maybe 100 times the amount of data across a fiber as before. Isn't that cool? Isn't it? I mean, it's amazing to think of, if you can even think of it, really, it's kind of like thinking about light years, this tiny thread of a fiber that you can barely see and it's transporting billions of packets per second, some in one wavelength, some in another, and on the other end of everything there's a guy sitting in his office watching porn.


Hobby

This season Pam is pissing me off. Or the writers. It's the writers, I guess. I get the fact that she's supposed to be angry and hitting people because she's pregnant and hormones and whatever, but really. Really. Is that all they can come up with? This is supposed to be the funniest show on TV, and they turn one of the main characters into this completely cardboard cutout of a person? It's just stupid. Write something original. I know, I'm asking too much, it's Hollywood, right, and it's a show they copied from somewhere else, but still, what if Pam didn't want to punch Michael at the end? What if maybe she did something cool like getting revenge by putting Nair in his shampoo, and he comes in bald with some sort of rash on his face and he's just inconsolable, just breaking down, because Michael's hair is totally his identity—totally, I know, right?—and then he comes to Pam and she apologizes and draws his hair back on with a marker? So much better than slapping him, right? Am I right? Jesus I hate that show now. I want to throw my TV out the window, only it's one of those flat panel ones that probably wouldn't explode on the sidewalk with any sort of thrill. Just a thud, like the show. Like my life, really, seriously. You, too? Jesus.


Sale

I'm glad you brought that up because I've been working with this new company that sells nutritional supplements. Can you believe it? It's the best thing. When I hear people talking about being worn down all the time, I have to cut them off. To say, wait, there is an answer and if you try these potent vitamins I can guarantee that you'll instantly feel more energetic, and you'll be able to get much more work done. Conservatively? I'd say two hours. Get more miles out of your day, that's what we always say. Or, get more miles per gallon, we like that theme. I mean, our bodies are vehicles, right? It only makes sense. You will be so glad you ran into me. Ha ha, like a car accident, right? But much more profitable for both of us.


Yes

Huh. Yeah. Yeah. Mm-hmmm. Really? No, really? Wow. Ha. Mmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Ahh, I see. Sure, sure. No, I can't believe it. Awww. Definitely. Yep. Sure. Gotcha. Definitely. Definitely. I wouldn't just say that. That's important stuff. No kidding? She didn't. Whoa. Yeah. Ahhhh. Can't believe it. Seriously can't. Sure, sure. Uh-huh. No. No way. No, go ahead. I just...I just thought I knew that street performer who ran past the window. Funny. Funny stuff. Hilarious. You're absolutely right—I wouldn't believe that in a million years.


Loss, life

...and the thing was, it was so fast, like a week ago he was fine and active and we just sat around like we always did, talking, watching movies on the Internet, running around every now and then, and on Friday he was quiet and didn't seem to feel well so I took him in and sat there while they drew blood and I still thought, okay, he's just under the weather a bit and we went home and ate okay just like normal, fell asleep, the weekend was good, if a little slow, we just hung out and I ended up going camping with some friends because I figured he'd be fine for a night and by Monday he was just lying there and by Monday night he was gone just like that it was a shock it really was and I'm sitting there thinking what could I have done about (choose one: his, her) liver what could I have possibly done because (choose one: cats, ferrets, children) they can't tell you...


Connect

It's so great that we have a chance to talk like this. I feel like all we do is text nowadays, and I enjoy that, I do, but it's so much better to communicate face-to-face, you know? Um, it's about five hundred a month, I think. But that's both ways—coming and going—so if I send a text and get one back that counts as two. No shit! Five hundred can go so fast. I probably burn through a hundred in a couple days of commuting, what with the traffic and all. No. Not a full keyboard. I'm stuck with this one until the contract runs out. I can't drop another two hundred bucks on a phone right now. But yeah, you're right, when I can get that keyboard thing it's going to help a lot. I feel so restricted, you know, hitting the numbers three times or trying to figure out how the predictive text thing works. Such a pain in the ass. Yours looks awesome! I can't believe how fast you can type. I always know that when I get a text from you it's going to be like War and Peace, you know, you just go on and on and on. It's so great.


Loss, love

(He's/She's) a fucker. That's it. Straight up. Three months ago, Valentine's Day, a puppy. Last week, we're done, (he/she) leaves, and what do I have? That's it: a puppy. And (he/she) left a basketball. Sure she's cute and all but what the hell? Every time I look at her I think, (he/she) left me. And I push her away and that makes her want to get on my lap more and well that just plain sucks because it's like (he/she) planned it all out you know, like (he/she) wanted this all to suck perpetually, for seventeen years or however long dogs live, I might as well have named her Rejection.


Association

Gymnastics. Makeup. Sugar. Birthdays. Death. Pearl Jam. Rock. Country. Red. Juice box. Applesauce. Thermos. Gazpacho. Garden. Pesticides. Death. Wheat. Money. Benefits. Condoms. Speed. Magnum P.I. Beard trimmer. Family. Children. Colors. Leprechaun. Teeth. Sugar. Dessert.

 

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DESSERTS


Sunrise

I didn't expect to have this much fun tonight. I don't know. It was work. The weather. So dark, so early. I feel like I'm just now loosening up, like it took two glasses of wine to make me forget the knots in my shoulders and get my mind off this meeting I had at four that ran until six—who schedules a meeting at four, anyway?—and I spent that entire meeting drawing tortoises marching across my notepad. So now I can focus on you, on us, and it's almost time to go. I'm sorry, I don't know why my brain works this way and I wish I could turn it off I really wish I could but this has been nice, so nice, oh you don't even know. It's so great that you're such a good listener. Do you want to see a movie or something? I know it's a weeknight but seriously, I can't go back to my apartment right now. I don't care if I'm worn out tomorrow. Let's go do something. I feel like I'm waking up for the first time today. I don't want it to end.


Pals

Two dudes can share a dessert. This is 20__. Are you seriously scared to split this with me? What do you think is going to happen? Are we going to kiss? Maybe our spoons will touch? Should I feed you the cherry? Come on, we need to hurry this up so we can get to the game on time. Split this with me, we save a few bucks, get out of here quick. Nobody is going to think anything. What if they do? If someone knows us, they know we're not together together, and if someone doesn't know us, who cares? Don't be an idiot. No, we don't have to split a beer at the game. That's stupid. Fine. I'll eat the whole damn thing. Nobody is looking. Try a bite, real quick. You'll like it.


Sunset

No. I'm tired, that's all. I was listening. I don't have much to say. I don't know why. My brain is tired. I mean, it feels physically tired, like it's a sponge that someone's been wringing out all day. I can't describe it. I know sponges don't feel things. I know. I can't tell you why. Yes, engaged, I'm sorry I'm not engaged tonight. I'm sorry. Yes, normally we are connected. Normally we are engaged. Sometimes, to be honest, sometimes "engaged" is the last thing I want. Sometimes I want a cave and the lights off and my eyes shut and a weird animal howling off in the distance. No. No, that's not what I mean. I never said you were howling. I've never made fun of your voice like that. Look, I'm tired. Tired. That is it. This has nothing to do with you. Or us. It has to do with my brain being wrung out and there not being any more words left to say. That's all it is. I will wake up tomorrow and we will be engaged, I promise. I promise.


Push

We'll do this again, right? Because I've had a blast. What luck, such good luck. To run into you when you had a night free and we're both hungry and wham just like that, it clicks. Makes me think it was fate. How about Tuesday? Wanna do this again then? Cool, cool, well I'm open on Tuesdays so if you find out you're free, give me a call. Here's my card, that's my number on there. Direct line. Because it's my home office, ha ha. Maybe we should shoot for the weekend? Grab a bite, then head over to the waterfront? Maybe? I thought that festival was last weekend? No? Okay, sounds good, let me know how that would work. My e-mail's on that card, too, if that's easier. I know you're busy. Me too! Crazy couple of weeks. Nights like this become all the more important, you know? Yeah, definitely, you gotta eat some time, but you need that connection, too, right, someone to talk to. Done? Yep, I'm done, let's get out of here. We'll definitely have to do this again soon. Can't wait.


Past, present

It's been a long time since I've told that story. I'm not sure I ever have told it, to that extent, to anyone. It's something I'm not usually willing to share. I'm not sure why I did. It's crazy. I probably drank too much. Or I like to talk about myself too much. Or I don't, but I can't help it. It's an attention-grabbing story, kind of, and the last thing I want is people feeling sorry for me, or worse, people thinking I want them feeling sorry for me, like I'm embellishing the whole thing for effect. To get attention. It just happened. A long time ago, it's over, it doesn't even matter. It's like telling someone about a movie I saw, or a book I read, and that movie or book, it was about some kid and that kid is forever in that moment and isn't here with me now any more than any other fictional character I've seen. That's how it is. Because how could we haul our child-selves around like that, forever? How many would we have to deal with? Would it be the self from the good memories or the bad ones? Would you ever get out of your own head? Would you ever be truly present? I don't think so. Not like I feel present now. Like I feel with you.

 

 


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I ordered tacos, guacamole, and sweet tea via notepad and pencil at a restaurant in Nashville. The pre-printed pads provided clear directions for selecting amounts of food, toppings, beverages, etc. I circled what I wanted, handed my sheet of paper to a cashier, and paid. No verbal communication required.

This happened in the middle of a week- or month-long stretch during which I did not want to talk to anyone. I thought that notepad was just about the best thing ever.