So a few hours ago I was digging through an old family photo album when I came upon the above image. It’s from 1996, and features Phil Shapiro—my wife’s grandmother’s late husband—eating some sort of meat-and-bread product off a plate. We think it’s prosciutto with cheese, but our fact checkers cannot verify with 100-percent certainty.
Anyhow, I cannot overstate the levels of joy that this image brings me. There are several elements at work here, which I will now gladly break down bit by bit.
Element A: The waiter
There is only one interpretation that can be taken from this young man’s face, and it’s: How the fuck did my life come to this?
You’re Jim. Maybe, oh, 22, 23. Recently graduated from college. You have a girlfriend, drive a Ford Fiesta. You’re feeling pretty good about yourself. Your pal Ed says, “Hey, I’ve got a way to make some extra scratch.” And you’re down with it, because extra scratch is good and serving food off of a tray doesn’t sound particularly awful. And—who knows?—maybe you’ll be working, like, an event at the Playboy Club, supplying scantily dressed models with their brandy and caviar. What could possibly go wrong?
And now, here you are, standing by as Phil Shapiro wedges a prosciutto-and-cheese shard into his drooling upper lip. You glance up and someone is snapping a photo. And the only look you can muster—the only appropriate look—is, “Fuck, how did this go so very wrong?”
Element B: Phil
You didn’t wanna be here. I mean, yeah, OK, Bernie’s grandson is getting Bar Mitzvahed, so you sorta need to attend. But you don’t even like Bernie. He’s just a guy who sits two spots over at the Canasta table every other Thursday. And his grandson—wouldn’t recognize him in a lineup of one.
Now here you are, and all they have to eat is a prosciutto-and-cheese tray? Jesus Christ. You don’t even like prosciutto. And yet, you’re hungry. So you take one. And it’s a slippery little sucker. You try taking a bite, but the damn thing falls to the side, and now it’s halfway wedged between your lip and your gum.
Oh, and what the fuck kind of face is this waiter making at me? Who the fuck are you, kid?
Element C: The Tray
Somewhere in America, roughly three months before Ronald Kaplan’s Bar Mitzvah, two pigs roam their pen on Farmer Joe McDonnell’s Mississippi farm. They’re both happy, supplied with ample portions of feed, water and mud.
Pig One: “I know I’m not long for this earth, and I’m OK with that.”
Pig Two: “Agreed. I just want to die with dignity.”