We’d agreed to meet at 9 a.m. He was late.
Todd Bailey hurt my feelings. I already knew I wasn’t the first.
“You’re too sensitive,” flashed in my head. Perhaps I’d indicated 9ish I thought, so I reluctantly dismissed the tardiness.
He was in charge of the staff in the kitchen. “He’s a grumpy one,” they said.
“I’m here when you’re ready,” I messaged him without injecting shame.
“I’ll be right there,” he responded, but his reputation preceded his arrival and I feared displeasure. “I don’t know what anyone wants to know about me,” he insisted, after already agreeing to meet.
I heard a rapid ascent of heavy footsteps . The two cups of my favorite brew I’d drank earlier to fuel my ambition felt like sudden death, not “Resurrection” as labeled; it slipped down the shoot and created the sudden urge to escape to the bowels of the Raven.
Someone who declares, “I just don’t like you,” isn’t necessarily anyone’s friend, but could it be a cloak, camouflage, a distracting disguise? When it’s only in print, the tone of the words can be very deceiving. I’d already spotted him in the shadows of my previous photos – never with a smile, but he’d already racked up four years with the Raven family.
After the dreaded small talk about working at Raven Café, managing the staff, dealing with difficult situations, maintaining inventories, and avoiding lousy food and warm beer, the conversation became only slightly more fluid. Like the silver steel ball being slapped about in a pinball machine, I used my silver tongue to extend our play, and avoid falling into the dark holes.
He disclosed sailing from Florida to Milwaukee aboard the tall ship, Denis Sullivan, and working on another tall ship, Highlander, in Port Huron. I sensed there was a lot more to know about this grumpy one than he’s willing to share on the first drink, or libation as he prefers to call it.
“What else do you enjoy?” I asked.
I hid behind my painted smile. Was he a gamer? I had heard he was, but I suddenly felt like Puck-Man (look it up – it’s not a typo). I tried to manage the tight corners in the uncomfortable silence and avoid my own ghosts, while trying to devour any bits of information I could grab as I shifted about.
“Have you played the new Fortnight Game?” I finally asked. I’m only a limited retro game enthusiast myself, but I’d heard about the newest game on the radio the same morning.
“No, I don’t play it. I like The Witcher 3,” he responded.
Through pursed lips, I reluctantly admitted to my limited Puck-Man parade of old-school games and the antiquated systems I’d played them on, unable to comment on Witchers 3, but it finally broke the plane.
“Retro games are cool,” he pleasantly said with a nod. “A lot of people enjoy the old retro games. In fact, I build gaming systems. About $120 each, if anyone’s interested.”
We don’t have video games in the Library, but before we parted, he willingly agreed to play a word game with a culinary theme, while I retreated to the TARDIS in the library to curiously look up “The Witcher 3”.
You can play the word game too, just write down the following: An adjective, an insect, a number, another number, an adjective, an animal (plural), a verb, a foreign country, a verb ending in “ing”, an adjective, and another adjective. Then substitute each of your answers in the blank for his.
Here are Todd’s results:
EAT WHAT BUGS YOU!
Have you ever eaten a bittercockroach? It’s a delicacy now at Raven Café! Patrons have been known to eat at least 27,0000 in 2 visits. And in this town, worms aren’t only bait for catching fish in the river. Todd has the talented staff use them to capture tangygoats too – a delicious dish served weekly to guests! They may wiggle and shout, but don’t let that slow you down! If they aren’t your style, please don’t forget to try the beetle juice brew from China – cooking them releases their delicious flavor. If you miss any of our fluffy cuisine, don’t worry, because we’ll serve another hot course again soon! -Todd Bailey, Manager
If you want to talk nerd and all things gamer-related, grab a seat at Raven Café’s bar on Wednesday evening or Saturday morning. Ask Todd for one of his favorite libations with your meal. He’s the one with the grumpy face that’s grumbles “meh.” If you get him chatting he’s a pretty okay guy for a young curmudgeon.
All in a day’s fun. Game on.
Media Specialist, Raven Café