Mind Your Qs And Ks
“Would you like a scotch? It's the good stuff.”
“Henry you know me so well. Really it's very drinkable. I think you'll be surprised.”
“I'm always surprised at baan Frankie,” Henry winked.
“What? This is a very normal household.”
“That's right,” Henry echoed, “two dogs, two cats, and a single bed. You know I've been meaning to ask you about that.”
“They all come to wake me in the morning. It's wonderful.” Frank chinked ice cubes and poured off four fingers.
“You mean when the dog rolls over and licks your face?”
“It's only Scamper. The big guy sleeps on the floor.”
“Look, it's the pooyings I'm worried about. That German Shepard isn't any Goldilocks you know.”
“You're exaggerating. Noi, you want a scotch?”
“No thank you, koh nam kheng khaa.”
“She's drinking saki. Got her own bottle tonight.”
“Wow, the high class stuff.”
“Yeah, why is that?” Henry gulped some scotch and looked at Noi who was channel flipping. “Anyway about that bed-“
“Here, what do you think?” Frank handed over a piece of crusty French bread dripping roasted tomatoes, chilies, and anchovies. Henry smacked his lips and grunted.
“Where's the cabernet? We're wasting time here.”
“Yeah, where's A?” Noi chimed in.
“A? I said cabernet. The red stuff. Not the brown stuff. Actually where is A?”
Frank glanced at his watch. “The bugger! That's what I get for giving her five hundred baht. The Reggae Bar, and she was supposed to be here two hours ago.” He poured two sets of four fingers, smiled and got philosophical, “Really, you know, this isn't bad stuff.”
Henry wasn't convinced. “Alright, let's go get her.”
They piled into the car along with the German Shepard.
“What's he doing?” Henry sniffed distastefully.
“He misses me.”
The car screeched out of the driveway onto the main drag of Rawai and started passing everything in sight. By the time they careened over the small hill past the French restaurant the speedometer was bouncing off eighty, and Henry was gargling a little excess Grouse he hadn't counted on.
“What is this, the Indianapolis 500?”
“You don't want to be late, do you?”
“The rack, I left the lamb on the barbecue.”
“So I ended up at the round bar last night.”
“You're kidding me. I thought you were going home.”
“You remember that girl with all the knife marks on her arm? Well, she whacked some katoey and the whole place came unglued. Drinks and fists were flying everywhere, an outright brawl. Anyway I didn't have to pay the tab so I took a couple home with me.”
“A couple beers eh?”
“Girls you idiot!”
They ran a stop sign and squealed around another curve. Henry fought with his seat belt. “Will you slow down for god's sakes!”
“Everybody was in the shower and everything was going fine till we got upstairs.”
“Alright, so the bed's a little small. One of them balked right off the bat so I threw them both out. It's better waking up with the dogs anyhow.”
“Your stamina is amazing. On second thought that single bed might be a blessing. Kind of a checks and balances thing.”
“It's a hell of a life Henry.”
They screeched to a halt in front of the Reggae. A was sitting at the bar. She made an obscene gesture and Frank went to get her.
“Where you go? I wait you hours.”
“You wait?” Frank said incredulously, “You wait me? You said-forget it. Come on, get in the car.”
The back door slammed. Henry turned to say a quick sawasdee, sat a moment scratching his head, then jerked back around staring at the back seat in disbelief. “The dog. Where's the friggin dog?”
“We didn't bring the dog,” Frank said blankly, “did we?” He looked at Henry who was rolling his eyes.
A immediately lit up to the occasion, “What you do to my dog? Where my dog?”
“He's not your dog,” Frank eyed Henry again.
“Look I don't know. I thought we brought the dog. We all jumped in at the same time, didn't we?” Henry scratched his head again. “Must be the heat. Really, we're not well people here.”
The confusion was rampant. The car revved up and a few terrifying minutes later Noi confirmed their worst suspicions.
“Cripes, well at least get the rack off the barbecue.” Four fingers of Grouse lended some perspective.
“We'll retrace our steps.”
“I'll drive,” Henry quickly volunteered. Around the last bend before the stop sign they found the German Shepard sitting alongside the road wagging his tail. Slack-jawed they both stared at the back seat. Yes, the windows were down. Yes, the opening was just about big enough for a dog of that size to fit thru.
“But how in God's name?”
“It's a land of miracles Henry. Only Buddha knows.”
“I swear that dog sprouted wings.”
So the happy household returned home to the feast: roast pumpkin with cinnamon laced garlic butter, baby potatoes and pureed onions, asparagus in a balsamic marinade. The wine flowed and flowed some more. They all toasted the merits of South African cabernet.
The rack was luscious, succulent, unrelenting in its peppered coriander, thyme, and fresh rosemary. The fat was crackling, the meat dripping. A looked on in disgust. Noi had long since thrown out her Isaan scruples and gnawed lamb bones with the best of them.
“A superb meal as usual Mr. Frank. Always pick your friends by their credentials I say. Of course when I found out you'd been restauranteering in New York for twenty years you were a marked man.”
“ Aroi maak,” Noi heartily agreed, her face covered with lamb drippings.
“Well thank you for saying so Henry. Ah, I almost forgot. It's not the normal flow of things but the salad. I made the dressing this afternoon and just put the polishing touches on an hour ago. Should be perfect by now.”
“Terrific. Nice way to cap off the meal.” Henry heaped a pile of fresh greens onto his plate and poured on the dressing, a thick creamy mixture with lots of capers.
Frank finished first and headed into the kitchen for the clean up regimen. Dishes clattered and soap suds washed the walls.
“He put egg in this?” Noi asked, pointing at the dressing.
“Not sure. Hey Frank, what's in the salad dressing? It's delicious.”
“Dijon, a little mayonnaise, raw egg, some anchovy, garlic, olive oil, tarragon vinegar.”
Henry reflected on this while chewing on one of the capers. Actually it wasn't really a caper. More like a bacon bit or something. Damn chewy as a matter of fact. He pulled one out of his mouth and took a look. “That's odd,” he mumbled rubbing at it with his thumb. It was heart shaped. He fished a few more out and stared at them. “What the hell are these things?”
Noi hissed at him and pointed at a bag sitting on a nearby table. It had a cartoon picture of a cat licking its chops on the front.
“Are you crazy? Hey Frank, Noi says you put cat food in the dressing. You wouldn't do that would you?”
He dipped his hand into the bag and dumped a handful of dried heart shaped morsels onto the plate. Then he scooted one over by the bits in the salad dressing. An exact match. The clattering in the kitchen had stopped and Henry could feel something looming over his shoulder. Four fingers of the not so good stuff appeared in front of him.
“Henry- they must have tumbled in by mistake. You know how I rush around the kitchen.“
“Oi. I'm having a Sangsom moment here. For god's sakes, you didn't pull this stunt back home did you?”
“Lots of vitamins,” Noi chirped.
“They're disgusting.” He picked one out of a back molar with his thumbnail. “At least you could have precooked them,” he whined.
Frank meditated on the jar of dressing and allowed a poignant pause. Then the muses of the Grouse offered up the evening's aphorism: “Henry, you can chase flying dogs, but don't quibble over kibbles.” A few seconds later suds were washing the kitchen walls again.
Just when I thought lamb on the BBQ at Frank's sounded perfect….!