Friday, September 17, 2010

Bathroom Monologue: Shark Café

I'm at the Shark Cafe like every Monday morning. It was a long night, so I'm pounding Double Hammerheads while the yuppies sip Maco and Great White Chocolate. Great White Chocolate? Like that's even shark anymore. They might as well sell candies here - but of course, they do. Gummybears and jellyfish are right next to the dried shark fin. Some days you wonder if shark has gone too populist.

Just when I’m thinking darkly of Shark Café, along rambles a good reason to support them. Wearing only flip-flops, jeans and Mardi Gras beads (in August) comes a man, swinging his arms in the ASL sign for “Shark Cruelty.”

“Shark is murder! Shark is murder!”

A couple of businessmen pick up their laptops and cups and leave for the subway. The others leave the open-air part, heading into the safety of the glassed-in part of the Shark Café. I could never drink in there. Smells like an aquarium.

“Give it a rest,” I call. “Shark’s no worse than Seacow or Whale Oil Refineries.”

Since I’m his only audience the guy stomps up to me. His ponch pokes the velvet rope that denotes where Shark Café’s seating area stops and the public sidewalk begins.

"Do you know how many dolphins die so you can get half-off on that shark?"

"None. Shark Cafe has been free of dolphin labor since the 90's. If you owned a TV you’d know that."

His Mardi Gras beads and gut swing over the velvet rope. He does not take a seat. “I donated my TV to a family of dolphins that were delocated by your supposedly harmless shark farms! Sharks never do that to people. They’re moral creatures.”

“Oh come on. If you’ve ever gone deep sea diving you’ve seen their Human Cafés. They pay out the nose for Upper Middleclass blends.”

"Shark is murder!"

"A morning without shark is murder," I say, and illustrate with a long pull. There's a little whipped fish on my upper lip. I leave it there and beam at the protestor. He takes a swing at me, an openhanded haymaker. I duck and he only catches the top of my head. It feels like a fish has just swum over my scalp.

All the same I back further into the velvet-roped area. He doesn’t pursue – doesn’t want to be mistaken for a customer at a place like this. For the first time I take a good look at him. His dull skin suggests a distinct lack of Omega-3’s and Asian sex – the two key symptoms of shark deficiency.

“When’s the last time you had a cup, buddy?”

“Shark is murder!”

“If I give you five bucks do you promise to spend it here?”

“Shark is murder!”

I roll my eyes, then notice another eye rolling in my cup. A shark eye. Oh, it looks succulent. But it’s full of necessary nutrients. I take the tall cup and leave it on the table closest to the protestor.

“Listen, guy. I’m going to leave this here. No telling what happens to it.”

Before he chant another slogan, I turn and head inside. I’ll order something else – something less intense. I come back out with a Cinnamon Twist Sandshark. The protestor and the Double Hammerhead are gone.

And they say no good is done in the city.


  1. Hahaha, still laughing. So many funny bits here it's impossible to pick a favorite.

    I love the warped way your mind works, John.

    Too funny!

  2. I love the part about the sharks having a human cafe...great story John. Your imagination is a wonderful thing.

  3. LOL! Funny I finished writing my #FridayFlash in a cafe with a surfboard sign cut to look like a shark had attacked it.

    Love the dolphin bits. Hysterical!

    Shark is yummy though I don't know about drinking it. :)

  4. This was off the wall, and I love that sort of humor. It's a bit disorienting, but in a good way. It was fun to pick through the layers to get past the social norms to fully enjoy this one. Well done!

  5. That is like no other story I have ever read! You definitely have to smile as you read it! I particularly liked the 'human cafe' idea too.

  6. I too would pay through the snout for some UpperMiddle Class tifter...

    Yes quite bonkers as you trailed it, but nice satire both on veggie militantism & coffee culture

    Marc Nash

  7. Gracie, glad you liked it so much. I needed to cut loose and do something absolutely ridiculous, as opposed to my usual mild ridiculousness.

    Rachel, thank you. My imagination makes for awkward conversations sometimes but I try to compensate when I'm alone via fiction.

    Vandamir, well that's fate. There's no way around it. Wittingly or unwittingly, I must have written this for you.

    Eric, any layers you particularly liked?

    Rebecca, if it's any consolation, this is not what I usually write either. But don't you think sharks would have a human cafe if they could? Not for nutrition - even us Americans aren't fat enough for that. But coffee's not about nutrition. It's class.

    Mr. Marc, one order of The Most Dangerous Game coming right up.

  8. Sharkburger, Sharkburger!

    Pepsi, Pepsi.

    Chips, chips!

  9. I definitely enjoyed this strange brew, though I'd prefer my shark grilled rather than blended. So off the wall nutty John, glad you cranked it up to "absolutely ridiculous"!

  10. LMAO You're awesome and extremely witty. I like that. I love shark fin soup. Does that make me evil? I could almost picture the Sharks sipping on humans. Great flash piece. :-)

  11. Weird. I Like. And of course it made me think of the fishermen they recently found inside that shark if you follow the offbeat news. Made me want to have a double hammerhead just to get even. Clever stuff, John!

  12. Mr. Solender, I'll have a grilled cheese.

    Harry, grilled shark? What kind of Philistine are you? Human is a beverage!

    Nomar, a small cup clutched between their two frontal fins. Maybe with a straw. It's natural after a while.

    GP, I didn't hear about that story. Were multiple fishermen found whole inside one shark?

  13. You are a strange one, but it always makes me laugh out loud. Especially the sharks loving 'Upper Middleclass' blends. Ridiculous and hilarious. Well done.

  14. The world needs more creatives like yourself John. Always a pleasure.

  15. My nephew ordered a shark from the local grocery store for Shark Week. He's a chef, so they feasted. Don't think they drank "shark" but I'm sure drinking and shark consumption was involved.

    Absurdly fun, John.

  16. You've got the protestor down! I try to do my part to conserve on the environment, especially with water conservation - and that's why I tap local beer.

    PS - yup, you've been nominated, again:)

  17. Another hilarious post, John. You're a master of humor. :)

  18. Very creative I enjoyed it :). I got a very good feel of the world in such short space of time. Not an easy thing to do! Well do.

  19. Whatever you're taking, I want some! John you should really make this into a novella. Very Tom Robbins-like to me. He is a lunatic and has a wild imagination or a good doctor!

    I loved this! You took me out of my office for a few minutes into the Shark Cafe.

  20. [Scene: A New York apartment. Someone knocks on the door.]
    Woman: [not opening the door] Yes?
    Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Arlsburgerhhh?
    Woman: What?
    Voice: (mumbling) Mrs. Johannesburrrr?
    Woman: Who is it?
    Voice: [pause] Flowers.
    Woman: Flowers for whom?
    Voice: [long pause] Plumber, ma'am.
    Woman: I don't need a plumber. You're that clever shark, aren't you?
    Voice: [pause] Candygram.
    Woman: Candygram, my foot. You get out of here before I call the police. You're the shark, and you know it.
    Voice: Wait. I-I'm only a dolphin, ma'am.
    Woman: A dolphin? Well...okay. [opens door]
    [Huge latex and foam-rubber shark head lunges through open door, chomps down on woman's head, and drags her out of the apartment, all while the Jaws attack music is playing.]

    Your story reminds me of this! It's awesome!

  21. Warped, warped, warped -- and wonderful. Still laughing. A human cafe... only the Wiz could think this up. Peace...

  22. Mmmmmm...whipped fish. Makes me thirsty, or hungry...or both.

    It's eat or be eaten, paunch guy. It doesn't look like you've been fasting!

    Cool story, John.

  23. This quite imaginative, and well executed from start to finish. I can get behind a good story involving sharks.

  24. Warped, wacky, and wonderful -- what else can I say. You never fail to deliver, John.

  25. I liked how it feels like it could be part of our world initially and then bit by bit we see more of this world and the odd ways it works. Very nice world you've chosen for a backdrop. You've created just the right details to make it feel full.

  26. Sorry for the slow responses later today. Afraid I'm coming down with bronchitis and the symptoms are slowing me down. Same thing is making me less conversational on Twitter.

    Mr. Four Parts, I'm happy to be a strange one. Wish I was an upper middleclass one. I'd be delicious.

    Carrie, thanks for stopping by.

    Peggy, how was the shark? Will you go inform that nephew now that Shark Is Murder?

    Erin, thanks for the award and the kind words. Do you think the protestor is solid? I feared they were both a little cardboardish.

    Danni, you're too kind! Will I let you down when the next #fridayflash isn't humor?

    Craig, it's fun to sprawl out in absurdist worlds. Sometimes they come more naturally than meticulous Fantasy ones.

    Susan, I'm the clean one. No alcohol, pills, whatever, except One A Day Men's. You, too, can be wacky - if you let yourself. Join me?

    Cathy, Landshark. I knew I wouldn't make it through today without somebody bringing up Landshark. If only I was that good.

    Linda, do let me know if you find other people who think this way. I'll help net them and bring them to safe places.

    Madame Z, how do smoothies make you feel? That'll let you figure out whether you're hungry or thirsty for shark.

    Christian, would you have preferred one set in the Human Cafe?

    Jon, I try my bets to deliver. Some days the ideas are stranger than others.

    Aidan, did you think the initial names like "Double Hammerhead" were just unusual names for brand items? I can see that, and allowing somebody to think we were still in the mundane world. Be interested in how you felt this story out.

  27. You had me at "Double Hammerheads" - and I just held on for the ride from there.

    Great fun, with a bite. :)

  28. rofl You are a silly man.

    Had hubby take a look because sharks are a standing joke around here. He said, in his best Bruce the Shark (Nemo) voice: Fish are friends, not food. Then stormed off.

  29. Very off-the-wall. What a fun read.

  30. It's Shark-O-Matic! Love this. I can see Laraine Newman, with foam in her lip, saying "That's good trout!" You're a very funny man, John. And you manage to sneak in some biting social satire.

  31. I think I had a glass of whipped fish froth once. Not pleasant.

    Through-the-looking-glass bizarre, John.

  32. Err, maybe I caught your bronchitis. I'm at loss?

  33. If drinking shark is the key to your off-kilter thinking and uniquely strange writing, then stick to that diet, John--and pass me a glass, because I'd love to do what you do. This is a great little shark tale, and one that will stick with me for a while, like a properly puréed shark smoothie sticks in the gut.

  34. KjM, it was a stroke of luck to come up with "Double Hammerheads." I bet they would be delicious and I don't even like coffee (or shark eyeballs).

    Wulfie, I sure try to be a silly man. I'll take Bruce references as compliments.

    Tim, thanks for stopping by!

    Pamila, I'm off to search for Laraine Newman on Youtube. Come with me?

    Tony, I'll also take Lewis Carroll references as compliments, too.

    Mari, were you drinking from my cup?

    Travis, it's very flattering that anybody would want to write like I do. Thanks both for the praise and the shark gourmet talk.

  35. Well, that's out there. What a fun read. Thanks.

  36. I enjoyed this! V. witty and well-written. I'll take a cup of shark, please!

  37. Kooky and inventive John ... Now I wonder how some of those concotions would taste.

  38. That is a really interesting story concept!

    Makes me want back story!



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