Work Dinner at Benihana

I hope I can catch the shrimp in my mouth this time

Is there a name for that phobia?

I fear hibachi-style restaurants.

A few years ago, at a fake Benihana in the southern United States, the chef, who was showing off his mad skills with a spatula and shrimp, forever killed my love of sitting in front of a hot flaming grill while eating.

My work pals lied that it was my birthday, laughing as if they were the first group to ever pull this prank. So, I had to sit there sporting a paper idiot-hat while they sang Happy Birthday and toasted me. Happy, happy, joy, joy.

And, as I was the faux birthday boy, the chef had the genius idea to toss me a shrimp to catch in my mouth. Unfortunately, I had missed the memo about it.

When I noticed the grilled shrimp coming at me, I opened my mouth like a SeaWorld dolphin but couldn’t maneuver in time to avoid it hitting me in smack in the eye, which led to everyone laughing their asses off. Oh, funny man, make us laugh, please. Let’s see that again. I didn’t laugh very much when I spent 10 minutes washing the grease out of my eye. Fun times don’t come better than that.

That’s why I hate these ##$*@ places. They bring back bad memories of the “shrimp to the eye” night.

So, last week, when the gang told me the work dinner was at Benihana, I just couldn’t wait to go. Sarcasm alert, if you didn’t get it.

With Benihana being the restaurant choice for the night, someone’s memory flashed on the “shrimp incident.” Then the jokes started rolling my way around noon and continued through dinner. At one point, a pair of safety goggles showed up to protect my eyes from another mad shrimp. Thank you for your thoughtfulness, guys. I’m so lucky.

Light, damn it, light. Oh, screw it. I'm retiring.

Retire before you suck at what you do

At the restaurant, we got the worst teppanyaki chef ever, an ancient bench warmer they called into action when no one proficient at their job could be found. The crusty geezer was counting down the days to the cashing-in of his Benihana 401K and “free fried rice for life” coupon.

This is how much he sucked: He couldn’t flip a shrimp tail into his hat, which is a basic skill they teach you on day one of teppanyaki-chef school. He missed six in a row and gave up. Six? How do you miss six? I could make that shot in six tries. How hard can it be? Evidently, harder than it looks, as was the behind-the-back shot that hit the floor. You’re 0 for 7, loser.

Worst of all, he completely screwed the pooch on my favorite part of the show, the flaming-onion volcano. How do you mess that up? There are only three ingredients: onion, flammable liquid, and a lighter. A six-year-old could torch that baby. Somehow his onion didn’t ignite, much like his passion for the job.

I looked at this cat and wished that CG would get her new lungs soon

Free Drinks on the company

It’s amazing how much some people drink at company functions. It feels like it’s the people who have been in the same position for 30 years and have never moved up. Is it the chicken or the egg? You got drunk at company functions and didn’t get promoted, or you got drunk at company functions because you didn’t get promoted?

One such person, who exceeded his limit, slurred that he was cutting out carbs to reduce calories. When I told him alcohol has more calories per gram than carbs, he mumbled something about not giving up the one thing he enjoyed and turned his back to me. I admit that eating meat and drinking beer sounded like a good strategy regardless of his poor knowledge of caloric intake.

This same guy turned to me later, after he’d forgiven me for my rude remark, and shared this depressing fact: he felt really bad because he’s been attending a lot of funerals lately. Five people he’d known had died in last two months.

You know what I was thinking: I need to get away from this guy right now. I don’t want to be number six. I made sure I didn’t rub up against him. Back luck rising. I started to worry that the chef might lose control of a knife at any moment and I’d look down to see it stuck in my chest. That would be . . . ironic? I survive 47 years of CF and meet my maker at a teppanyaki grill where I’m killed by a guy who can’t make a flaming volcano? I know what my British friends would say: F#*king hell.

When someone finally drove the carb counter home, I yelled out “seat-belts,” and got a funny look back like I was the drunk one. I just didn’t want the driver to be number six.

I was so happy when I left and survived the night. I will do my best to avoid these places in the future. I’ll use the “I’m sick” excuse. No one at work will argue with that one.

Stay safe.

11 thoughts on “Work Dinner at Benihana

  1. Being completely honest with you, this is the writing that drew me to your site. Send Fox on a vacation. I like Unknown John, my friend. Your beach photo with your daughter was adorable and brought a tear to my eye. This may be the Xanax and Vicodin combination talking now, but I love you, man.

    Yup, definitely the meds talking.

    • Fatboy,

      Perhaps your choice of using Michael Jackson’s doctor for prescribing your meds wasn’t a great idea. 🙂 You should ask him to lower your doses before Beautiful gets jealous. 😉

      Congrats on four months away from IVs.


      • Brilliant, even in the comments. Welcome back from your hiatus. Trust me – very low dose of Xanax because I’ve read the combo actually creates a toxin that the body has to filter out even though the meds themselves continue to do what they are designed to do.

        I’m writing up a 30-day blogging “challenge” if I can stay awake long enough. Otherwise, you’ll see it in the morning. It’s part of my latest post on tips on blogging and I’d love it if you took part if it fits into your editorial calendar and scheme of things you have in mind for your site.

      • After reading your latest, very coherent comment, your earlier excuse of being drugged and saying “I love you, man” is looking a little flimsy. Hmmm. Do I need a restraining order for a certain person who lives in FL with a woman named Beautiful? I wonder if I do?

        I know dick about blogging rules, but I’m always open to new ideas, well, most new ideas. Email me and I’ll comment, but it doesn’t mean we’re getting married.

        🙂 to the whole comment I wrote, in case you didn’t know I was joking.

      • Of course you were joking. The “rules” to blogging are my latest post. The “challenge” will be just below the header in the morning. I’m getting sidetracked with the strangest things in the last 20 minutes, like creating a Twitter account/avatar/background for my World of Warcraft blog.

  2. F***ing Hell mate, thanks for the warning, I’ll stick to Fish & chips! See ya later shrimpy eye. Hahahahahahahahahaha

  3. I cannnnnnnooooot stop laughing about that cat image and caption and that the image was saved as CG LUCKY KITTY. I am so glad I came to your real page to view! I get the subscription in my inbox, without images, so I almost missed this hilarity. Expect to see this kitty in the near future.

    • I took that photo just for you. And I did say a little cat wish for you. If I had perfect lungs and I could run, I would have had my friend wait in the car while I grabbed it and dashed. Then I would have FedExed it to you. What a surprise that would have been when you received a stolen Benihana Lucky Cat. I think it might mean bad luck for me though, as stealing lucky cats is bad karma.

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