Saturday, 9 August 2008

One Oddball Without The Gravy

Do you have a secret (or not so secret) fear of gravy? Does the very sight of this deep brown, viscous fluid leave you quaking with fear? Does one look at a gravy boat have you leaping for the life belts?

If so, WHY?? I know, it's unreasonable to assume that irrational fears are capable of a rational explanation, but the whole concept of gravy phobia is just... odd. I mean, what is there to be afraid of? Even the most assiduous gravy fan isn't likely to drown in it, are they? I suppose there's the remote chance of burning your tongue on the stuff, but it's not very likely, and it's even less likely to pose any other significant risk to life and limb.

And yet, contrary to everything common sense has to say, there are people out there who allow an irrational fear of gravy to rule their lives and influence their decisions. This I know for certain, because I was chatting with a live, gravy fearing specimen only this afternoon.

Of course, he didn't just announce it to the world, like some neophyte member of the Gravy Is Terrible (G.I.T) support group, or it's sister branch, Sprouts Are Dreadful (S.A.D.), together referred to as the Christmas dinner fearing S.A.D.G.I.T. No, not for him the gut wrenching announcement, "My name is Neville, and I'm afraid of gravy."

Instead, it just slipped out, as these things do. Conversation turned to local eateries, and I mentioned one relatively famous establishment that Mrs S and I are planning to visit when we have a little spare time (i.e. some time in the next 40 years). "Never been," said Neville, looking a little shifty. I should have known better, but something about his expression prompted me to ask why.

"Well," he said, by now looking downright wretched, "the tables are very close together. I'm always afraid that a passing waiter might pour gravy down my neck." Well, what could I say? Silence just wasn't an option, and besides, I was intrigued. "You mean, actually down your neck? In your shirt collar, style of thing?"

He nodded miserably, wringing his hands, and I knew these were waters deeper than any I could reasonably be expected to navigate. My poker face was perfect as I nodded, making vague, "Ah, yes, I see that. Not good. Always best to avoid..." type noises, before changing the subject.

Well, how was I to know? He didn't LOOK like he was going to say something weird about gravy, and it's not exactly a famously contentious subject, is it? But, now that I do know, I'm wondering what might have happened to the poor bugger to make him fear surreptitious gravy deployment in an entirely reputable restaurant.

The place is very well known in this neck of the woods, and I haven't heard ANYTHING bad about it, much less a tendency for waiters to sneak up on unsuspecting diners, claw at their collar and deposit a fresh blob of gravy therein. In fact, I've never heard of any waiter doing that, accidentally or deliberately, in any eatery, anywhere, no matter how close together the tables may be.

And yet his fear exists. I suppose it might be something related to his childhood, some appalling gravy-based incident during his formative years - maybe the school bully coated him in gravy at dinner time. Or maybe his first date ended in gravy humiliation...

The possibilities are endless, and I'm damn sure he's never going to tell me, so I might as well stop speculating. But I can't. Curiosity is a terrible thing, and I keep concocting different scenarios in my mind. Mrs S has long since become bored with them, and I suspect she's scheming to deploy some gravy in my direction pretty soon if I don't pipe down.

Hmm, actually, that might be fun... :-)

Billy Seggars.

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