by Josh Rabinowitz
Every friday, the Punch Bowl allows its staff to submit articles for the website. Today we have a harrowing narrative from Josh Rabinowitz.
It’s a Tuesday night and I’m home from college. My parents debate over the perfect restaurant to take our pleasant family of four. My sister and I are far from enchanted by the prospect of dinner. Invited to participate in the discussion, we stare blankly back at them as if to say gingerly, lovingly, “hurry the fuck up.” They make their decision. It’s hibachi.
And I hate hibachi.
Our car sputters down the road, and I begin to ponder with confusion the allure of the hibachi restaurant. Why do people feel the need to add a chatty middle aged Asian man to their meal? It’s like temporary adoption. I don’t want a nearly retarded middle aged Asian brother. I already have a brother, and his name is Ralph, and he works at a fucking Hibatchi place.
We walk in and the hostess directs us to a table in the corner for the night. His nametag says something in Japanese, and he introduces himself as Steve, which defies logic, because he’s my brother, and his name is Ralph. His mouth dangles open in an uncontrollable smile. He is singing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song, He looks at me and asks if I want a brushall shprowt. I ask if he means brussel sprout. Apparently he does. I decline.
He states again “brushall shprowt?” gently, alluringly, and stares deep into my eyes beckoning me to give in to his sick twisted game. I defiantly say no, not allowing him to serve me this mutant vegetable, I’ll take steak or shrimp, but not this. I’m not going to cave in.
The stress mounts as another family is seated at my brother’s station. The four of them sit across from my family. Joyously, they look at the stove in utter amazement. They are so happy to be here, they are so happy to have hibachi. My brother starts flipping unidentifiable vegetables at the other family. Each person catches their veggie with ease. My family is reading the menu, not noticing the dominant display of food catching. The highly skilled family stares at us as the chef with the brain of a six-year old stares at me. There is something brown and round thing on his spatula. “WEDDY?”
I assume he means ready. I nod to show that I am. He flips the unidentifiable flying vegetable and I catch it. The aroma of mustard, sweat, and lettuce fill my mouth. I’m nauseas. But I stare back at the other family. I won’t be embarrassed here. They’ll know where I stand. My sister is next and catches her food nonchalantly. My mom is rummaging through her purse for a camera so as to never lose sight of the time my sister and I caught food. I’m embarrassed. My mother hasn’t a clue about the competition we are involved in. I’m not sure she knows Ralph is our chef.
My dad is next. He misses and laughs. I’m fuming as the other family whispers and stares in our direction. My mom then whiffs on her catch. She acts as though nothing has happened. I’m about to explode. The other family continues to chat. I know they are talking about how we can’t catch food. This is supposed to be dinner, not a competition. They are jerks.
Retard starts his little show of salt and peppers with fire, and everyone gives a half hearted “wow” as he sets a flame. He’s proud like a kindergartener at show and tell. Both families love him. I don’t. He’s making our family look the fool. I want the meal to end so we can disown him.
My parents fumble their food when he hands it to them. The other family in contrast gracefully accepts their platters from my brother. The family is sooooo proud of themselves. Someone should stand up to them. I look over and explain that it’s not a contest, its dinner. They stare back puzzled. They are playing stupid. I say get over it, you aren’t great at life because you can catch food in your mouth, you jerks. They again ask “What?” My parents say “Josh stop it, what are you saying?” They think I am being rude, but I’m standing up for them. I just look at the ceiling and breath, trying to ignore it all.
The sounds of it all blend together:
Josh calm down.
We are the best food catchers ever.
Here on Gilligan’s Isleeeeeeeee
I’m about to get up, but then I hear, hauntingly:
“………….Brushall shprowt…………Brushall shpro”
The sound is cut off by a chair breaking over someone’s face. I pummel Ralph with the remains of the chair, and he screams in his faux-Japanese, “Prease, mercy, prease!” and I can hear the laughter behind it all. My mom finally takes that picture. The police later confiscate it for evidence.
My father tells me I’m never getting a car. I tell him I’m already in college, and don’t need one. He’s stumped. The other family has moved to another station and is enjoying their food-catching with the managers offering complimentary meals left and right. We are ushered out of the restaurant and Ralph is promoted on the spot. When the squad cars show up my mother talks about the colleges my sister might get into, and how proud they are of Ralph. Gladly, I tell the officers what happened. We have a nice discussion in the back of the cruiser about what it’s like being an Ivy-Leaguer, and how privileged I am. They stop at MacDonalds on the way to the station and I wonder why I can’t have parents like this.