Cacciatore in the Rye

11 Nov

(In a dimly lit New York Italian restaurant/bar, the two crotchetiest characters of the Western canon have met for drinks and dinner. Holden Caulfield and Larry David find their seats at a table near the back. They are flanked on the left by a table of elegantly-dressed female flibbertigibbets, whose loud conversation echoes across the dining room.)

LARRY: Oy gevalt. Who comes to a classy place like this and shouts across the dining room? The rest of us can hear you, you know!

HOLDEN: Easy, Larry. Let the people act young. The world turns around them, and they’re locked in a state of perpetual aging. They try to break free and be young, but they can’t. They’re getting old. They’re not locked in glass.

LARRY: Speaking of old, this guy at the movie theater added a senior discount to my ticket price.

HOLDEN: So? You qualify and you’re old enough. It saves you money.

LARRY: Yeah, but he didn’t even have to ask how old he was. He could probably tell by looking, but it seemed a little rude to just assume. The kid should have a little decency and ask how old I am. Not even enough manners to ask my age.

(Holden rolls his eyes and the two immerse themselves in the menu.)

HOLDEN: I want the veal cacciatore. What are you having?

LARRY: Uh, such a big menu. I can’t decide. We’ll just share the veal.

HOLDEN: Fine, I’ll let you share with me.

LARRY: Are you getting wine? I’m not, but if you do, do us a favor and remember the price. You have to split the check, and nobody ever agrees, it’s just bad. So, veal cacciatore it is.

(A waiter has just overheard the conversation, and arrives to confirm the order.)

WAITER: Sharing the veal cacciatore, are we? It’s great, it really is.

LARRY: Yes, we’ll have that. And two waters.

HOLDEN: These restaurants are all so phony. The smoke, the jazz, the clinking of glasses. None of it means anything. That’s all it is, ambience.

LARRY: Speaking of phony, looks at that lady over there. She can barely move her forehead!

HOLDEN: Oh Larry,the things we’ll do to feel young.

(Fast-forwarding a little, the veal has arrived, split between two plates. Holden rests his head on a hand planted on the table and wistfully pushes the meat around his plate. Larry eats a morsel, but promptly spits it out.)

LARRY: Dear God, that’s appalling!

HOLDEN: What, Larry, is it bad?

LARRY: It’s past bad, it’s raw! It’s plain and simple raw! We could’ve caught food poisoning! One more bite and I’d have been in the hospital!

HOLDEN: No one ever cooks the veal right these days. There’s no care in the food. No love. Just some guy putting meat on a fire, collecting a paycheck, and leaving. It’s just veal. It’s not molded, and it’s not prepared. It just comes out pure. Unadulterated. Raw.

LARRY: Sure, real poetic. Meanwhile, I might be coming down with something! Feel my head, that’s a fever!

HOLDEN: I wish I could do something about it. All these people, they come for Italian food, but they have no idea. It’s just cacciatore in the rye. They’re all waiting to get sick with the bad veal, but I stop it every time. I send the food back to the kitchen. None of the customers ever get sick. I could do that all day, then I’d be happy.

(Lights fade. The soft, metallic bang of utensils, the contrived chit-chat, and the soft tunes of the band all crescendo as Holden drifts back into his daydreaming, and Larry grabs his abdomen and runs for the bathroom. Curtains close.)


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