Thursday, August 19, 2010

Appel Here...

Thriller Guy is still on “vacation.” A recent rather cryptic note from him refers to some very inhospitable conditions and indicates that he isn't sure when he will be back in mufti, sitting at his desk reviewing fictional derring do. Our best wishes go to TG and our hopes for a speedy, and more importantly, a safe return.

Continuing my fact-finding research to Custer's Last Stand on a lighter note...

After returning from the battlefield, I had a night to kill before flying out of Bozeman the next day. I decided to drive around, check out Bozeman and have dinner. It being a Sunday night, the town was dead, though I cannot attest to the fact that it might be just as dead on any other night. The only action I saw was a group of teenagers in an empty mall parking lot who appeared to be kicking and beating a victim who was on the ground. A closer drive-by showed that rather than kicking someone to death, they were playing a game of hacky-sack. In my defense, I can only say that the same group of kids in my neighborhood right outside Washington, DC would most assuredly have been up to no good.

There were few places open for dinner, so I was happy to come across a Japanese restaurant whose name I no longer remember. This was in 1987, well before there were sushi joints in every town in America, so I was curious how this restaurant ended up in a small town in the wild west.

I went in and found no other customers, only a young Japanese girl who was working on what appeared to be her homework on one of the empty tables. With a big smile, she escorted me to a table and handed me a menue. Her greeting was a jumble of English that was unintelligible, but decidedly enthusiastic. The menue, and the restaurant itself, proved to be pretty generic Japanese, which was fine with me. I went for the sushi and one of those Japanese iceberg lettuce salads with the strange orange dressing. Dinner was fine, unremarkable except for the older man and woman who while obviously making my dinner kept peeking out of the kitchen at me. The daughter, for that's who I decided she was, hovered close, making sure my every need was met. It was all slightly weird and a bit uncomfortable as no one else ever came in.

After indicating that I was finished, I asked for the bill. At which point the older Japanese couple, dressed in what looked to me to be standard Japanese garb, marched out of the kitchen bearing an unordered dish, which was placed reverently on the table in front of me, with much smiling, bowing and clasping of hands. The older gentleman said, in extremely broken English what sounded to me like, “Special for you, Cowboy.” I couldn't help laughing at this because while Thriller Guy could easily pass for a rough rider, I am more the small, intellectual type who looks totally ridiculous in a cowboy hat. But I appreciated the sentiment.

The dish consisted of two iceberg lettuce leaves, on which were two mysterious globs of something; pale white, sort of jiggly, totally beyond my ken. I decided the lettuce was part of the dish, so I rolled each around the glob and ate it. Not bad. Luke warm, kind of squishy with an odd taste which I could not identify. The three Japanese, formed up in a line at the end of my table, watched my consumption with a sort of bated astonishment. When I finished off the leaf and its mysterious filling, they all clapped their hands, smiling and chattering among themselves and bowing in my direction.

“Very good,” I said. “What exactly was it?” not really expecting to understand.

They looked back and forth for someone to come forth who could actually speak English; when no one appeared, the older lady said, “Tess-teek-a.” I acted like I understod while she repeated it a few more times. I smiled, bowed to everyone, paid my bill and drove back to my motel. Yes, you've probably figured it out by now, but it took me a few minutes to work it out.

Test-teek-a. Test-teek-a. Testicle.

I know that are plenty of people who have had them deep fried or cooked in some manner, but I'll bet there are damn few of you out there who have had them sashimi style. I'm pretty sure I'd never order them on purpose, but the entire experience felt right, like I had held up the honor of America.

Special for you, Cowboy, indeed.


  1. Waaaay back (for me) in '86 I was with VMA-214 Blacksheep squadron (A4-M jets at that point) on deployment in PI, Okinawa, Korea, and mainland Japan.

    I was walking around town outside of the base in Cubi Pt and saw a boy with a small monkey on a leash trying to sell it to me. I figured $5 would be a good bargain for cutting loose a monkey in the barracks so I told him sure. He runs out back with the monkey - I wondered if he was going for a cage, some monkey food, or...

    A few minutes later he comes back with steaming chunks of meat on a stick...

    I was appalled, but being the young jarhead I played along and paid him for the tasty morsels...

    Years later I realized I was likely served bbq pork, they just called it monkey meat, it was just that he came back without the monkey... :)

    Anyway, I appreciated your story. :)


  2. Hi Allen! I just stumbled across your blog - you've got some great stuff on here.

    I hope you'll take a look at mine - I've got some flash fiction on there you might like.

    Can't wait to see your next post! :)