Posted on August 19th, 2013
Like my chowder, the air is too salty today. I push it aside and glare, not quite hungrily, at my over cooked steak. You might wonder why I’d order a steak at a fish house anyway.
If Mom were still alive, she’d probably wonder the same thing and give me that look. Or, depending on if it was her 2nd or 3rd vodka soda, she might warble shrilly, “You come all the way to the Vineyard and you order the steak, for Christ’s sake Billy, don’t you appreciate anything?”
“Is everything ok, sir?”
The waiter is a college-aged dude of a dude–his name tag reads “Tomas from Odessa, Ukraine”. He’s got a mini-turd of fuzz on his chin, a buzz cut and a tryzub tattoo on his neck. But, he is a genuine kid, so I swallow my misgivings about the fare and order another whiskey and water.
I reach for the red plastic basket of onion rings and peek over at the bar. Nope, nothing yet. The after dinner crowd won’t show up for an hour or so, but sometimes I’ll be lucky and a burnt brown divorcee might show up this early or even that annual high school reunion full of boisterous middle-aged women trying to impress one another with how much fun they can have. Alas, it appears it’s another night of drinking alongside Connecticut Dads named Chip or Stanton and their sons,Yale-bound Worthington and the fuck up Tad who finally graduated after his 6th year at Skidmore. I wave to Tomas for the check and begrudgingly make my way up to the bar.
I pull up a stool and nod to Cassie, the cute and bubbly, 23-year-old 3rd summer bartender. She grabs me a PBR and plops it down on a Red Stripe embroidered paper napkin with a grin, a head tilt and a lilted “What’s Up?!” The guy to my right is a large hairy-armed fellow in a wife-beater with a George Constanza haircut. He is mowing down his cod fritters and pounding Bud heavies.
To my left, is Tad or Chip or Worthington Sr, he’s got his golf outfit on; face buried in his iPhone, and is drinking, barely, a Corona Light.
I shrug and sigh and look back into the kitchen. And then I see it. Man do I, it’s huge and dead. I look directly in its blank black bean of an eye and wonder why I hadn’t read the specials board. Or why Tomas sucks so bad at his job. For all of the times I had come to the Vineyard, for even the two summers I had lived in the shack of a house in West Tisbury, I had never tried shark. Somehow the magic of shark week had always escaped me. But, now, sitting next to Greaseball, and Stanton pink shirt IV, I was very clearly, plum out of excuses.
“Cassie, let me try the shark”
20 minutes later, I am face to face with 6 balls of deep fried shark. I shunned the fork and tossed the crunchy tidbit of ocean monster directly into my mouth. Holy shit! It is delicious. I let out the delighted squeak of a tween getting birthday Beiber tickets. Greaseball and Brooks Pemberbutton look over at me bewildered and I shrug.
“I don’t give a shit if this thing is almost endangered, it’s fucking fantastic.”