Even the Losers … Get Roast Beef Sometimes?
No one likes to lose. And why would you? It’s horrendous! I once lost a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to my doctor forcing me to drive she and her husband to the Harpoon Brewery’s Saint Patrick’s Day Drink-Up in Boston. The silver lining was that she sprang for roast beef sandwiches at Kelly’s out in Revere during her late-night munchies attack. They have sandwiches the size of four-year olds and the caramelized onions taste like sunshine.
But sometimes there is no roast beefy, silver lining. Sometimes you just lose (You’ll be okay. You can’t have roast beef every day anyway; you’ll be dead by forty). And sometimes somebody else gets the roast beef on your dime. During times like these I have learned to just be happy that someone is able to enjoy that savory nectar. To illustrate my point, I will now share a story.
I was in my local independent video store in Providence, a place I frequent because it still carries VHS tapes of things that Hollywood studios haven’t even considered converting to digital yet, like weird kung-fu sea, monster movies and Hungarian sit-coms. Anyway, I was picking up a copy of Runaway Train (three freakin’ Academy Award nominations and still hasn’t made it past VHS), a staple of my youth. I couldn’t have been happier unless I was twins. I approached the counter, which always has two fish bowls, one filled with condoms and the other with fireball candies (Providence is a college town, after all.) and a hand written sign reading “Exact Change is Always Appreciated.” The skinny kid behind the counter is trying to hit on a girl who’s his age, but way out of his sphere of influence. Her attention is split between him and typing on her text device from the future. But, he’s working hard trying to impress her, so I want to get out of his way and get home to watch Runaway Train (“Take me with ya’, Manny.”). He tells me it’ll be $4.37 and, no kidding, I actually had exact change. He thanks me and I say something flip like “Well, anything I can do to help.”
The kid looks at the girl, who is preoccupied, then leans in, looks me straight in the eyes, and says in a low voice, “If you really want to help, you’ll lose to me in arm-wrestling.”
Now, I attended college on an arm wrestling scholarship, so part of my gigantic ego viewed this as an affront, however, to even ask, he must have needed a Hail Mary play pretty badly. So I did it. I lost an arm-wrestling match to a stranger the size of a fishing pole because he asked me to. Based on the girl’s reaction, you’d had thought the kid just killed a Cyclops. There was no “thank you,” that would have ruined the moment; I understand that. So when I finally left the shop with Runaway Train and a couple of fireballs, conflicted about what had just occurred on the most basic level, I had a revelation. In an instant my place in the universe became clear to me. Maybe he got the girl, maybe he didn’t, but that’s not the point. The point is now I had an excuse to drive to Kelly’s Roast Beef (That’s Kelly’s Roast Beef, 410 Revere Beach Boulevard, Revere, MA 02151).
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TUESDAY – Television. Our favorite drug; constant and comforting, but often packaged with regret.
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