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Ranch

Now I’m worried about a whole new group of people who know I’m a dope.

Actually, given the way communication flies around the world, an entire country is probably discussing me.

Here’s the deal. Once a month I have a meeting in a town an hour and a half away. The meetings start at 6:00 p.m., which means it’s a little too early for dinner before the meeting, and after the meeting I’m eager to get home, so no sit-down dinner for me. Of course, I get home just a little too late for a reasonable dinner hour.

To solve this problem, I usually drive through a fast-food place for a meal of grease, sugar and salt, which I eat and spill on my coat while I’m driving. The food isn’t very good, but the sugar keeps me awake until the heartburn kicks in, so I stay alert for the whole drive.

Not the biggest problem in my life, but because it happens every month, I find it a little annoying.

A while ago, I thought I found a solution. A couple blocks from the meeting location, I saw a Somali restaurant. I don’t know anything about Somali cuisine, but Somalia is right next door to Ethiopia, and I love Ethiopean food, so I thought it was worth a chance.

I walked in the door and felt a tiny bit out of place. Everyone in there was tall, slender and Black. I am none of those things, but I said, “I hear you have great food!” Strictly speaking, that wasn’t true, but it seemed like an ice breaker. The woman in charge looked at me and said, “We have goat.”

I said, “I love goat!” which is a little more all-encompassing than true. I once had some goat curry which was fantastic, but I’ve also had goat meat hot dogs which to me were less so.

She waved me to an empty table and asked what I wanted to drink. There were three options, and I didn’t understand any of the three. She had a little bit of an accent and I have a little bit of a hearing issue, so between us there was almost complete non-comprehension. She finally brought me samples of all three and one of them was delicious.

I thought I was done with decisions, because we’d already agreed on goat, but she looked at me and said, “Ranch?”

Anyway, that’s what it sounded like. I was baffled. No one ever mistakes me for a cowboy.

I very cleverly said, “What?” and we went back and forth about four times. “Ranch?” “What?” Like that.

The poor woman finally growled in frustration, went back into the kitchen, and returned with a quarter head of lettuce and a gallon jar of ranch dressing.

I smiled and gave her a thumbs-up. There’s really no coming back from that. Granted, it was a small restaurant, but I was already the center of attention and I’d cooperated by giving everyone something to talk about when they went home. I mean, ranch dressing was first made at the Hidden Valley Ranch the year I was born, and it’s been the best-selling salad dressing in the United States for thirty years. I didn’t have much of an excuse for not knowing what it was.

The goat was delicious. I could have skipped the salad.

Copyright 2023 Brent Olson

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