The sound of a fork hitting a plate after it has been dropped from a distance of approximately five and three quarter inches (nearly fourteen and a half centimeters) from the hand that previously wielded it, oh so naturally, can be a startling thing. When the fork is one with some weight to it, as you will find is customary at some of the finer eateries, and when the plate is similarly substantial, which again, is the standard at the better joints, the experience is magnified to a level that is not unlike having someone expertly and suddenly make the peacock's piercing call Of "NOW-WAAYAH!" into your left ear. This ridiculously powerful fowl's foul sound, which I am told by a good friend named Archer Martin, who holds a PhD in something or other, is so loud that it regularly causes otherwise genteel folks to curse like seasoned sailors while at the same time, throws any infant within a three mile radius into jags of hysterical crying. 

Archer one day went on to tell me that the daft bird's screech has a "...fundamental at about 700 Hz, with a wavelength of about 40 cm or 15 inches, with heavy overtones going up well over 10Khz, and having a wavelength of about 3 cm or 1 inch." In short, what I'm sure he was getting at, was that it is absolutely ear splitting. The restaraunt had been quiet. This I did not notice until I dropped my nearly burdensome fork. At this moment I was sure that my ears were in some way, damaged. Who knows what notes I would be missing next time I went to the symphony? The fork dropping action was not out of the thin blue air, mind you. It was brought on by a misplaced impetus. Obviously misplaced as if it had been thrown into my world five minutes earlier when the world and all of its brothers were deep in loud discussion, no one would have noticed. The culprit, in this case, was a phrase, which, even now, in the comfort of my home, as safe as the Bank of England, when I think of it being said aloud makes my hair stand on end. The phrase was, "white water rafting." Once allowed out of mouth and into air, this phrase rocked my psyche and nearly brought on a fainting spell. 

The problem with these three words was this, I have experienced this sometimes death cheating, so-called pastime. Our guide‹guide in this instance meaning fellow paid to smell of cheap beer prior to 10 in the a.m. sits in the back of the boat, and when you get to a particularly nasty part of the river, tips the vessel over in order to watch its human contents go every which way into any number of dangers in the immediate surroundings. Our guide, supposedly named Neil (which I have my doubts about to this day since his parents would have certainly named him something of a denser tone, like Bubba or Cleatus) had a habit of saying "See ya!" each time, just as he threw us into the arms of fate. There was something about this practice that was particularly annoying. 

Eventually, I got sick of my life flashing before my eyes every time I got dumped out of the boat and thrown into a boulder or whirlpool or any number of death traps that they line those rivers with. I imagine the boat makers, who must have spent a lot of time and energy making a good raft that wouldn't tip over or sink easily, would have taken this yahoo to task for using their product in such an antithetical way. I seriously considered ringing them up and letting them in on Neil's misuse. But as I played out the scenario in my mind, I saw Neil, pleasantly tanked on cheap brew, basking in the knowledge that his antics were successfully bringing folks to within an inch of their perfectly happy lives. Post phone call I imagine he might have even stepped up his tipping practices. If I am one thing, that thing is sensitive to my fellow man, and imagining Neil increasing the number of humans he caused to be flung ever so near Death's door, (I believe I made it to Death's mailbox once, and Death's carport twice) well, I simply could not make the call and do that misdeed to my brothers and sisters. 

So there I was, a moment after hearing the words, "white water rafting" and consequently, a moment after those words caused me to make a horrible sound with dropped fork onto plate. Every man woman and child in the establishment took a moment out of their day to stare directly at me. If only the fork would have been a nice lightweight little skimmer and the plate would've been made of some paper product, then I would have been spared this torment. Like any good man worth his weight, I offered up an apology loud enough to grace the ears of the diner farthest away. No sense in leaving anyone out. 

At this point my nerves were shot. My waitress, Veronica was alert and knowledgeable about these things and answered the call. Within moments I was finishing the scotch and soda that she brought as remedy. This lovely beverage reinstated my will and stiffened my spine just enough to lean over with pardon at the ready, and inform my fellow diners who uttered those horrific words to the ugly truth behind them. The looks I received from that table might have been taken for disinterest by the untrained eye, but I am sure that the deed I had done by pulling the faux visage of fun and joy from the true face of impending horror, was very, very welcomed. By this time, my good deed coupled with my now second glass of rejuvenation via lifesaver Veronica, had me in fine form and ready for the world at large, once again. It's hard to believe that my lunch date and I were only on our salad. Ah, the world and all of its unending loveliness! To think that pork chops were yet to come gave a fellow the warmest of feelings. 

—Olie Sylvester 
Baron, International Oom Paul Society of Non-Typicals

AuthorOlie Sylvester