Fondue Fred

Before reporting to work at Black Sheets, I posted some "I'll do anything" flyers on Market Street, around Van Ness.

I'll be broke soon if the phone doesn't ring, so call me please, and I'll scoop your cat's litterbox, type your memoirs, do your shopping, paint your porch, wash your windows, remove your tonsils, whatever.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

It wasn't raining when I got dressed, so I didn't wrap my socks in plastic, but the protection would've helped when I stepped in a pile of fresh dogshit on the sidewalk. It squirted right through the hole in my sole and the hole in my sock, making my toes all gooshy-gooshy with Fido feces. I could still feel the warmth; that's how fresh it was.

Ah, but the recent rainstorms have taught me to carry an extra pair of socks in my backpack. Into a Wendy's I walked, and in the restroom wiped most of the poop from between my toes, leaving the old holy sock in the trash.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Then I worked for six hours, typing and editing other people's writing, and also doing that and this and whatever. Told Steve I'd enjoyed his play.

Click to enlarge
this lovely image
from Fondue Fred
in Berkeley, CA.

As my work day was ending, Bill said he needed to run an errand to Berkeley, so he offered me a lift home. We drove over the Bay Bridge, a sight seldom seen by me — heavy traffic, lovely view.

On Telegraph Ave, he saw Fondue Fred and had hunger pangs, and offered to buy us both a cheesy dinner. He phrased the invitation so nicely, complaining that he'd been working too hard lately and deserved a treat, it felt like I'd be doing him a favor by accepting a free meal, and I'm very generous in such matters.

"Swiss cuisine," said the sign on the door, but I've never been to Europe so I wondered at the odd two-pronged mini-spear between the fork and spoon in our table-settings.

Bill helpfully explained that it's a nose-picking device. "You put the points up either nostril," he explained but didn't demonstrate, "and twirl it, and it pulls all your boogers out."

We ordered the Classic Fondue for two, and an unsmiling waiter brought us each a spicy salad, then lit the table on fire and left.

Bill and I ate our salads by the firelight, and spoke of the general stupidity of mankind, corporate capitalism, and Republicans, until the waiter came back with a pot of cheddar cheese. He set it over the flame, and dropped a wicker basket of french bread bits on the table. "Your dinner, gentlemen," he said flatly. "Enjoy."

My mom made fondue a few times at home in the 1970s, but this was my first professional fondue, so Bill showed me that the nose-picking device can also be used to stab the bread chunks, then dip them into the melted cheddar. 

The food was delicious — thank you again, Bill, when you read this — but our waiter was weird. From taking our order until we left, he never smiled, never said thanks, never checked on us after dropping off the cheese, and never said anything except "Your dinner, gentlemen. Enjoy." Bill said it was like eating in some future restaurant, where the waitstaff has been replaced by androids.

And also, yikes, it was $18 for melted cheese and bread bits, delivered by droid. Yummy, yeah, but so expensive I know I'll never be back. I could whip up something comparable in the microwave for a few bucks, though, and I might.

From Pathetic Life #20
Monday, January 29, 1996

Addendum, 2023: There's no more Fondue Fred.

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called
Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

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