Once I finished constructing the machine, I lit the burners, built up a head of steam, spun the dials, pulled the levers, and began my journey back in time.
First stop: 1864, Washington, D.C., to pick up President Lincoln, the wisest and tallest of American presidents.
Second stop: 477 B.C., near present-day Qufu, Shandong Province, China, home of Confucius, the legendary philosopher, statesman and fortune-cookie author.
Third stop: 2013, The Vesta Dipping Grill in Denver. Trendy and expensive, the restaurant is named for the Roman goddess of the hearth, home and family, and relies on themes of warmth, sensuality and dreams to showcase the skewers of grilled meats and vegetables it serves accompanied by about two dozen inventive dipping sauces—the black pepper aioli garlic mayonnaise with coarsely ground black pepper, for instance, or Steuben’s chimichurri cilantro with parsley, onion, chili flakes, and cumin. Diners are encouraged to combine the sauces to create a chorus of flavors, and Vesta’s seemed liked the perfect place for my dinner with two of the greatest orators in history, especially since they could afford to pay.
Abe: Gotta tell you, Mike, you might not have a face, but you sure know how to pick a restaurant. I haven’t had a meal this good in two score and three years. Who would’ve thought you could dip a forkful of succulent chicken into a sweet chili ginger sauce followed by a pistachio mint sauce and create something so damn tasty? This is the sort of perfect union I’ve been harping about back in Congress! America could learn a lot from Vesta.
Confucius: I dunno, Abe. It’s pretty good, but it’s no blintz.
Abe: Blintz?! You’re Chinese! You know what a blintz is?
Confucius: Sure, dude. I once had a chocolate blintz at little deli in Bejing that would’ve knocked my socks off, if the Chinese had invented socks. Paper, ice cream, gunpowder and the compass we invented. Would it have killed us to invent socks? My feet are freezing half the year. Anyway, nothing beats a good blintz.
Abe: I agree wholeheartedly, Fu. There was this little blintz joint near the state house in Illinois that I used to eat at all the time. Made sex with Mary seem boring. Well, more boring. She’s not much in the sack. Hey, what say we wrestle after dinner? You look like a man who could hold his own in the grappling ring.
Confucius: Uhm, no. Hate sports. Kung Fu, karate all that crap. Hurts like hell when you get body slammed or neck chopped. Besides, it is not the man who runs fastest who leads the race, but the one who pauses to think before he reads a book.
Me: I have no idea what that means, Fu.
Confucius: Tough nuggets. They can’t all be gems, my faceless friend. I get tired of having to be pithy and brilliant all the time. Nobody ever just lets me kick back and relax. It’s always, “Teach me, enlighten me, expand my world, tell me a story.” Sometimes I just want to tell everybody to shut the fuck up and figure things out for themselves.
Abe: Same problem here, Fu. Every damn day, a constant stream of people ask me to resolve this conflict and resolve that conflict, like I’m a professional mediator or whatever. Like I care if the world explodes. Sometimes I just want to kick back in my top hat and underwear with a beer and a bag of pretzels and watch the game. But, no!
Me: This meeting of the minds isn’t unfolding like I imagined it would.
Confucius: The superior man understands what the inferior man can’t learn if you give him a bowl of pomegranate seeds.
Me: Still lost here, Fu.
Abe: Let’s just eat. Mind the spicy sauces, tho, Mike. Without eyelids, you could have a hell of time if you accidentally get one in your eyes.
Me: Okay, thanks. I’ll be careful.
I know it’s hard to believe, but this is my entry for the 23rd day of Nicky and Mike’s blogging competition. If you want to see what other people wrote, please visit We Work for Cheese.