As much as I love Mexican food, I will never eat at Los Frijoles again. “Los frijoles”, for those of you who aren’t bilingual like me, means “the beans” in Spanish. Well, that place certainly is “the beans”! Here’s what happened…
My brother came by the other day and took me out to eat, which is great because I love to eat out for free. We both love Mexican food–or “Tex-Mex”, to be more specific–so we decided to try the new place, Los Frijoles, that just opened up in the building that used to be Pizza Inn before it went out of business. Why did Pizza Inn go out of business? Beats the hell out of me. I mean it’s pizza, for Pete’s sake.
Anyway, it was all nice and festive-looking inside, but something seemed off. I don’t know what it was. Just a kind of vague feeling. We were shown to a table by a Mexican guy named Vince. He was a heavy-set individual with dark, curly hair and a scar down his left cheek. “You want I should bring youse summa doze, ehh, chips and crap?” he asked in a thick voice.
“Yes, please,” I answered politely. Vince grunted in acknowledgement, and then did something I found quite unexpected. Instead of walking away, he flew upward like a big helium balloon and disappeared through a rectangular aperture in the ceiling. It slid closed as soon as his feet had cleared it.
I looked at my brother to see if he’d noticed this, but he was busy scanning the menu. I shrugged and cautiously attributed it to my excitement over being in a new restaurant. Before I could say anything, Vince suddenly reappeared at my side with a tray containing a basket of crispy tortilla chips and a bowl of hot sauce.
“You want I should put deez in your stomach for you?” he asked. I didn’t know what he was talking about, so I merely mumbled something neutral. Vince took this as a “yes” and then a blank look came over his face. The chips and hot sauce slowly disappeared from their containers. At the same time, I could feel something in my stomach, as though I’d just eaten. When the chips and hot sauce were gone, Vince flew upward like a helium balloon again and disappeared through the ceiling. This time, the action was accompanied by the sound of a slide whistle.
I looked at my brother to see if he’d noticed any of this, and to my surprise he was still gazing at the menu. “Is your menu a magic TV set?” he said at last. “A magic TV set with exactly what you want to see more than anything in the whole world on it? Mine is.” He flipped it around excitedly so that I could see, too. I leaned forward and squinted. It was just a menu with food and beverage selections printed on it.
“I don’t see any–”
“I want to be in it,” he said wistfully, returning his rapt attention to the menu.
Vince popped in from out of nowhere again, startling me. He was holding a tray heaped with two deluxe Mexican dinners, side dishes, and drinks. “Here is your food,” he announced.
“But, we didn’t order–”
“You want I should put dis in your stomach for you?” Vince asked in a dull monotone. The blank look began to settle over his face again.
“No!” I said hastily. “I want to eat my food, not just have it magically appear in my stomach!”
With a slow nod, Vince put what appeared to be a Civil War-era cavalry bugle to his lips and blew a resoundingly off-key note that made me grit my teeth. Suddenly, the food all turned into squirrels, chipmunks, and beavers. They hopped down off the tray and onto the table, skittering around excitedly before taking their proper places and turning into plates of food and glasses of drinks again. One of the beavers ran around the table for a few extra moments, stopped, sang the “Los Frijoles” radio jingle, and turned into a complimentary platter of beef nachos.
“Let’s get out of here,” I said urgently to my brother.
“No,” he said, his eyes fixed on the menu. “I want to stay here forever…and ever…and ever.”
“What about you?” Vince asked me in his usual monotone. “Do you want to stay here forever and ever and ever?”
“I certainly don’t,” I said resolutely. “I want to leave right now and never, ever come back.”
With this, Vince flew upward through the ceiling again–for the last time, as it turned out. I never saw him again. The food and drinks turned back into squirrels, chipmunks, and beavers, and ran away. The chips and hot sauce that were in my stomach disappeared and I was hungry again. I looked over at my brother and he was regarding his menu with a disappointed look.
“Hey, my menu isn’t a magic TV set anymore. Did we eat?”
“Yes, it was very good,” I lied. “Let’s go.”
Needless to say, I didn’t leave a tip. Nor did I wait for a bill, since the food had all turned into small forest animals and run away. As I passed the front counter, I saw a paunchy, middle-aged guy whom I assumed to be the manager standing next to it.
“What the heck’s the deal with that Vince guy?” I asked.
The manager regarded me with shock, his eyes wide as saucers. “Vince?” he said incredulously, his voice quavering with fear. “VINCE? Why, the last time someone named VINCE worked here was…A HUNDRED YEARS AGO!!!”
“This place hasn’t been here a hundred years,” I said.
“Yeah well, it sounds scary and stuff,” he shrugged. “Actually, Vince is my wife’s nephew. If I don’t let him work here, she withholds her sexual favors from me.”
I kicked him in the balls. “Withhold that, asshole,” I said on my way out.