I was most disappointed. I took the seat by the window where I had a panoramic view of the plants. Observing from the window, I could see the milkweeds, but no caterpillars. Why were there no caterpillars on the plants outside the window? I like to see caterpillars while I eat. Is that really too much to ask?
Jacob shook his head in bewilderment as he read the surreal comment in the suggestion book. It must have been the old codger who was in here for lunch most days: The retired entomologist whom, it now appeared, was evidently cultivating butterflies in the attic. “Harmless old chap, but a few paninis short of a cafe” Jacob chuckled to himself.
I chose a bacon, chicken, apricot and lettuce panini for myself and placed it confidently on my plate, despite the almost-overwhelming temptation of the scrumptious BLTs on the menu. I love a good BLT. How can anyone NOT find paradise in a good BLT? Firstly, it has bacon. Secondly, bacon. And the letuce and tomato – glorious! Meat, salad and toast all at once. And it MUST be toasted. limp-wristed, flaccid bread is a no-no. The only thing that beats the BLT is the BLAT. Bacon Lettuce Avocado and Tomato. And if you’re a true fanatic, there are endless variations. But be careful: I once embarassed myself by asking for the LGBT special. Too many fucking acronyms. They should have declared a moratorium on acronyms after ROM and RAM were forced down our throats. Liz wanted a panini too, or maybe she didn’t, because the BLTs sounded pretty good. “and he wants to see fucking caterpillars!” exclaimed an animated voice from where I imagined the kitchen would be. OK – that was unexpected. “but It’s not a BLT without Avocado” says Emma. “No, that’s a BLAT” I replied. “blit, blat, splat-the-cat, whatever, I want avocado on it, but that panini looks good”. Liz is nowhere nearer a decision either and is still comparing my panini to the BLTs on offer. She probably wants a variation not on the menu. “caterpillars! – can you believe it?” snorts the kitchen.
“What’s this about caterpillars?” Emma raises an eyebrow.
“no. nothing – just a strange man’s request” the charming twenty-something waitress behind the counter chirps with a nervous smile. “ooh Yuck – I’m not eating a caterpillar” sneers Emma. “there are NO caterpillars here. All the food is thoroughly washed.” The waitress is becoming impatient and I see a woman in a blue summer-dress at the nearest table start to examine her sandwhich closely; examine it as one may wish to examine her ample breasts. I can imagine cupping one of those beauties in the palm of one hand, finding the nipple with the thumb and then … remember where I am.
“Ok Emma. Are you having a BLT or a BLAT?”
“Well, maybe a BLAT if it has avocado. but it needs to be gluten-free and insect-free.” I see the woman in the blue dress put her sandwhich down quickly. “Will you stop that!” snaps the now-indignant waitres. “you’re upsetting the other customers and there are no caterpillars here”
“That’s right They don’t have any caterpillars here” mutterd a soft and sad voice from the open doorway behind us. We looked round to see a well-dressed elderly man shuffling into the room. “I come here several times a week and I never see any caterpillars” he said, slowly making his way to a table by the far window. “There used to be hundreds of caterpillars in those gardens and I would watch them while I ate my lunch. Is it really too much to ask?”
“OK forget it, we’re going somewhere else.” I said to my companions while motioning towards the door.
Meanwhile, Liz had eaten the panini.