Author : J. Keegan

In line at the all-you-can-eat, and I’m waiting my turn; fifty different alien species in the joint; it’s hard to get human food anymore; an earthling on earth and out of place.

I lift the lid to, ‘Turkey,’ but it is Alevi style, raw turkey, appendix red. Afraid of faux pas, I say, “Mmm, looks good, piquant.”

A Tarand to my left says, “Indeed,” he sarcastic.

The soup of the day is Campbell’s Alphabet soup, but not the Latin alphabet, and I get sick of eating a Sanskrit like language, the letter A in the shape of a character, a logogram, the character for lucky. Other entrees include, a bowl of ice chips, margarine, or rinds, not watermelon, just the rinds of watermelon.

The Tarand says, “W. C. Fields said, ‘Once, during Prohibition, I was forced to live for days on nothing but food and water.” I laugh. Tarands, always classy.

I have to wait for a Beliada to spoon insoluble fiber onto his plate, no opposable thumbs.

In line behind us is a CalCalaKer, and although there is a little sign on the sneeze guard, ‘Please No Antennas,’ the hat stand alien with thirty antennas, you know will touch something.

More food, dozens of skull and crossbones, red cabbage being poisonous to Delteras; peanuts being poisonous to Elevens.

How things get translated, interpreted. The phrase all-you-can-eat, and Feltas taking the wording literally and trying to eat the silverware and plates, the seat cushions too. As well, all-you-can-eat, understood by carnivores, the Gelter’s Incident, two years ago, as all-the-patrons-you-can-eat.

A Heleton opens the 400 gallon ant farm and digs out a tunnel.

I’ve heard of beef tripe, the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach. And, Kopi Luwak coffee, undigested coffee beans picked out of monkey stool, the Asian palm civet. And, I’ve heard of the Italian cheese, Casu Marzu, a cheese infested with maggots on purpose until the cheese becomes buttery, eaten maggots and all, and when disturbed the larva jump six inches off the cheese. But the alien selections disgust me, the cannibalism mostly, an Inieateri eating an Inieateri – part of their religion.

Vegetarians too, Janusi, with a face in front and one in the back so it walks forward when it walks backward. Common backyard weeds, elephant ear, dandelion, creeping charlie, sold for hundreds of Euros per kilo. One alien species, the Keael, digesting sorghum, for the Letins, regurgitating and spitting in the other’s mouth like a mother bird.

Political correctness, and aliens complained of, ‘Bovine-mammary-gland-cow-utter-nipples,’ so ice cream had to be removed from the menu.

The staff, the workers paid less than minimum wage, they in stupid uniforms with chef hats, the floors greasy, used napkins everywhere, and probably nothing’s changed in a century.

I’ve my tray, rice balls and raisins. Nowhere to sit.

What did I expect for only $176.88 a plate?

The Tarand, being kind, “There’s room here at my table. Please, sit here by me.”

I’m a little afraid because of the Tarands’ high intelligence, their high class. “Thank you,” I say. I try a joke. “They’re no longer serving milk,” I say. “Like W. C. Fields used to say about being told no more alcohol, ‘My illness is due to my doctor’s insistence that I drink milk, a whitish fluid they force down helpless babies.’”

“Yes,” he laughs. “Like W. C. Fields used to say, ‘Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.”

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