Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part II

So, Mike and I met with the man at the Eagles Lodge to discuss the pancake breakfast the Boy Scout troop is going to have while Mike is away at a Camporee. This guy looked like Bruce Willis. I liked him immediately. Mike introduced us and the two guys got down to brass tacks, talking about the menu. I interrupted them.

"How many people do you think will come?" I asked Bruce.

"No idea," he said. Then he jumped up out of his seat and we followed him into the kitchen. "We have plates here. Are you going to use these or bring in paper plates? I think you should use paper plates. Makes everything easier."

I imagined how many times loaded plates could collapse before I switched to porcelain. I wondered how many porcelain plates I could break at one time. We followed Bruce back to sit at the table where my notebook lay with one entry - number of people.

"We'll probably use the plates you have here. It's better for the environment," Mike said, easing back into a seat.

"How do we figure how many people we'll end up serving?" I tried again. I held up my pen, ready to get it down on paper.

"Well, you could have fifty. You could have two hundred. It all depends. Better hope it doesn't rain. You should go to Cost Plus for the bacon and the pancake mix. They'd have paper plates too if you decide to go that way." He jumped up again.

"You'll have to get cooks," he said walking back into the kitchen.

Cooks? I don't know any cooks, I thought, as I waddled behind both him and Mike.

 "Yup cooks. This grill works pretty well, but once it gets heated up, it overheats. You'll put your meat over here and your pancakes here. Just fiddle with this knob when as it starts to overheat." I remembered working at a restaurant when I was in college. I generally avoided the grill. I stared at the thing now, imagining it glowing red. Only one time back then, I'd been asked to clean the grill using salt and oil and I'd leaned into it, lost my balance, and burned a line across my wrist. It took three years and about seventy-five questions about attempted suicide before that scar faded. I didn't like this grill any better.

"We'll have two adults at the grill," Mike said. "The boys will be serving and another adult will take money at the door."

"Sounds good," Bruce said. If the two men were working together, we'd be set. They talked about how to broadcast the news of the event, how they might draw in some tourists on the morning if they sent a couple of boys out with fliers. These two seemed to know their way around a pancake breakfast, but I was stuck on how many people would eat. Was it fifty or was it two hundred? And there was the little matter of the overheating grill. I didn't like the sound of that overheating grill.  Did I tell you I almost burned down my house a couple of weeks ago. Should I be the one showing an adult how to use a grill that overheats? It might be dangerous. I stopped staring at the grill and caught up with them at the baking trays I was supposed to use for the bacon.

"Are you going to have bacon and sausage?" Bruce asked getting a look in his eyes.

"Yup. We'll put both bacon and sausage on their plates," Mike said.

"If you cut the bacon strips in half, it looks like you're getting more."

"Good plan," Mike said, nodding.

"But how do we figure out how much food to buy?" I asked again.

"Well, you should probably serve four good-sized pancakes, a slice of bacon cut in two and a sausage link. Your grocery list will be pretty simple - maple syrup, butter, coffee, orange juice, bacon, sausage, and pancake mix." I zoned out while he talked about where we could get the best prices for the ingredients. I knew how much food to put on the damn plate. I just didn't know how many people to buy food for, fifty or two hundred or more than that. Bruce got up and looked in the freezer to show Mike how they had a couple extra bags of sausages and quarts of orange juice concentrate. He looked like he was about to whip up some breakfast right then and there. Then two men moved on and stared into the refrigerator for a little while.

"Strawberries and whipped cream would be good," Bruce said.

"Mmmm," Mike said.

I don't know how many times I asked Bruce how many people he thought would come to a pancake breakfast. I could never nail down an answer better than the first one he gave me, twenty or five hundred. Bruce closed the refrigerator door and we walked back to the table and sat.

I stewed as he and Mike talked about a few other details, the key, someone to keep an eye on the place, the pool table. They laughed about boys in the kitchen using knives and boys at the grill playing with fire and boys being responsible with the money at the door. Plus, Bruce said that the kids were not allowed to use the pool table. They could play Foosball, but not pool.  Okay, so now I have to put a chain around the cover to the pool table? At this point, Mike and Bruce were laughing and talking about how the Eagles had run a karaoke night fundraiser there once and a couple of guys drank too much and started fighting outside on the sidewalk. I have to worry about having twenty-five extra pounds of bacon and six bags of pancake mix after the breakfast is over. I have to worry about the grill overheating and burning down the building. I have to keep teenaged boys from tearing the felt off the pool table. I have to keep from losing all of our money. And now I have to worry that somebody will start a fight and tear the place down?

 I knew it wouldn't work to tell him I couldn't handle burning pancakes at the grill or boys sneaking a shot at the eight ball or men fighting on the sidewalk. I knew I should tell him that I have the capacity to drop ten porcelain plates at a time and to organize an event with plenty of plates but no silverware. I should have told Bruce that if I undercooked the bacon, everyone could end up catching intestinal parasites.

Mike and Bruce were wrapping it up when I said, "Well, I guess we'll take a guess at how much to buy."

"We'll plan on a hundred and fifty people," Mike said.

"I can figure that out," I told them, trying to look confident.

"We're going to want this to be run primarily by the boys," Mike said, looking at me. "You might want to double-check their quantities and go with them when they shop."

Holy cow! I have to do boy-led grocery shopping too?

Strawberries, whipped cream, bacon, sausage, syrup, butter, orange juice, milk, coffee, decaf, half and half, creamer, sugar, napkins, some cups, some plastic utensils, pancake mix, M&Ms, chocolate chips, Doritos, chocolate donuts, bologna, pizza rolls, hot Cheetos, jerky, chocolate chip cookies, macaroni and cheese, a Frisbee and rocky road ice cream.

 Thank you for listening, jb

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