Any Excuse to Use the Word 'Quoth'
Good Lord, what an awkward moment! You know, everyone thinks all those Where-Are-They-Now columns in the newspaper are hilarious, and people make fun of the has-beens who show up on reality shows, but when you actually come face to face with one of those celebrities, the truth of what they once meant to people as opposed to their day-to-day post-fame existence is just kind of sad. Bleak, even. Wendy and I went to the Olive Garden in Shippensburg last night and at first we couldn’t believe our eyes. We were like, “HE’S showing us to our table? HE’S handing us our menus and telling us our waiter will be with us shortly?” We couldn’t help but stare as we smiled nervously, and in hushed tones we confirmed to each other that this was no case of mistaken identity, like that time I mistook that yield sign on 450 for Kenneth Branagh. Halfway through our meal, our once-famous restaurant host was re-filling the salt shakers at the table beside us when Wendy, tactless as usual, just came right out and asked him if he really was who we thought he was.
“Um…yeah, hi,” he said, not really making eye contact. Sad, sad!
“Hi," Wendy said. “Uh…we both really liked you in that poem.”
The raven smiled a little at that, but it was kind of an embarrassed smile. (Why did she have to say anything?) “Thanks,” he said.
Then, like an idiot, I had to open my stupid mouth. “Yeah, you were real scary,” I said. (I know...brilliant.)
The raven mumbled something then---it might have been another word of thanks, I’m not sure---and then he went right back to filling the salt shakers. This was the same raven whose eyes once had all the seeming of a demon’s that was dreaming! Holy crap! That bird terrified generations, darkened the imaginations of millions! And here he was, long past his moment of glory, losing a few feathers here and there, his voice kind of reedy. (We'd heard his voice wasn’t all that much in real life, but I want to tell you, it was r-e-e-d-y.) I can no more imagine him perching on that pallid bust of Pallas now than I can Randy Johnson actually getting his fastball up into the mid-nineties again.
Wendy and I eventually paid the check and left. On the way out, we noticed a couple of teenagers spot the raven having a smoke with the kitchen staff out front. One of the kids giggled and yelled out, “Yo, raven! Tell me about the Claritin difference!” Okay, it was a stupid commercial and a total sell-out job on his part, but the raven still deserves a little more respect than that. He just ignored the punk. Good for him. Anyway, the episode gave the whole evening an odd vibe, and then I exacerbated it by choosing a bad moment to propose to Wendy. (We sort of clipped an elderly pedestrian with the car on the way home and a cop was giving Wendy a breathalyzer test and I just decided to go for it right there.)
Time’s a big bendy river, that’s the moral of this story, yessir indeed. Watch for those bends, baby. They’re more bendy for some than for others, but bendy is the word for them. Indeed.