Palms sweaty, Andre nervously spoke, “We can’t go in there.”
“What are you talking about? You love Chili’s-To-Go.” Janet said, maneuvering shopping bags to get better leverage on Andre’s arm to pull him into the restaurant. “I need some nachos then we continue our mall crawl.”
“While my fondness for the quick casual dining of experience of Chili’s-To-Go cannot be overstated, I cannot go into this particular franchise,” Andre admitted. His feet remained firmly planted.
“That’s ridiculous,” Janet said. She loosened her grip and motioned for Andre to explain.
“First off, please keep in mind this all happened well before we met,” Andre started.
“There was no existence before we met, but please go on,” Janet interrupted, before waving her hand for the tale to continue.
“In a million years, I never thought we would be walking the mall in my hometown like a couple of bored teenagers,” Andre muttered as he rubbed his eyes, prepping for what was to come. “You see that sign on the door?”
“No birds or dog whistles allowed within?” Janet read allowed.
“Okay, so when I was a kid, 15 and so, so dumb, there was a puppy adoption place where the Williams and Sonoma currently occupies,” Andre started.
“Oh you beautiful, stupid man, what did you do?” Janet asked. Her shopping bags had started slowly making their way to the tiled floor.
“My buddies and I came to this very place looking to take part in the world renowned nacho platter. Once we were seated, Johnny Shoebox, you remember Johnny from the reunion, pulls out this silver thing. Marky and Bonehead, real name Travis and it is quite okay you’ve never met him, and I have no idea what the thing is so we ask,” Andre took a deep breath in and out.
“I remember not liking Johnny,” Janet said.
“Shoebox just smiles and blows into the whistle for a solid minute. The dogs across the way go wild; barking, howling, barkowling and break free from their handlers,” Andre said.
Janet’s hands were now covering her mouth.
“Schnauzers, poodles, chihuahuas, and terriers ransacked the place. Burgers were taken straight from diner’s hands. It was canine anarchy and all Shoebox did was laugh and laugh, between his hysterics he pointed to the silver thing and said, ‘dog whistle’ and fell out of the booth.” Andre’s eyes were wide and horrified as he relayed the story.
“Oh no,” Janet mumbled from behind her hands.
“The manager saw us, saw the whistle and kicked us all out,” Andre said. “I was furious and had no real knowledge of proper anger outlets.”
“But, where does the bird come into play?” Janet asked.
“I’m getting there. When we were forced out, I was hungry and mad. As I said I didn’t have good anger outlets at the time. But,” Andre paused. “But, I didn’t have a full grasp on a lot of expressions. I knew that when people were angry they sometimes gave others the bird. I did not know this was a metaphor.
Janet started giggling.
“I went outside, grabbed a pigeon with my bare hands, ran back into the restaurant and shouted, ‘I’m giving you the bird!’ Then stood there. The manager said I was never allowed back there and then chased the flying rat for a bit as dogs chased him and handlers chased the dogs. It was a fast casual dining nightmare,” Andre’s gaze went well beyond Janet and into a few decades prior.
Janet was in full on gut busting laughter now. “You beautiful, stupid man. We’ll go somewhere else.”
“Thank you,” Andre sighed with relief.