You are nervous, you’ve noticed, but you haven’t got any drugs to help with that, and visiting an unethical psychiatrist in order to acquire a prescription for those drugs would have a negative effect on your ability to obtain health insurance, should you ever feel inclined to do so. You sit on the edge of your bed, feet firmly planted on the floor. You are attempting to ground yourself, so as to move through the nervousness and enter a calm reality. The floor is cold, though, and it is physically painful to keep the sensitive soles of your bare feet flat upon the surface of the freezing floor. You begin to bounce your feet up and down rapidly, and because you had been leaning your elbows on your knees, and resting your head in your hands, the rest of your body shakes along with your bouncing feet. You allow a noise to escape from your mouth – a hum of sorts – and the shaking effects the hum as well. With your eyes fixed on an arbitrary spot on the wall, your feet bouncing on the freezing floor, your elbows jerking up and down with the bounce of your knees, your head wobbling along with the rest of your body, and this jittery, moaning, staccato hum escaping your mouth, you appear to any voyeurs looking through your window to be something of a dunce.

There’s a serious problem in this country and, for the life of me, I don’t know why we aren’t doing something about it. Where is the news coverage? Where is the media outcry? Where is Al Sharpton? Well I, for one, have had enough! No longer will I sit in silence and watch as this miscarriage of justice continues! It’s time to take a stand! It’s time to fight!

IT’S TIME TO BAN TAPAS!

You know tapas, right? Teeny tiny itsy bitsy portions of (I’m going to go out on a limb here and say) food, commonly enjoyed by sophisticates and people who suffer from stick-up-the-ass syndrome. These, of course, are the same people who make a big production out of studying the wine in their glass (“well, it certainly appears to be serene in personality”) before, finally, taking a sip and frowning thoughtfully (“ah yes, just as I suspected. It’s a second cousin, twice removed, of the ’72 Chardonnay.”).

Tapas, derived from the Spanish word tapas (meaning “sucker”) is typically served in tapas restaurants with names like Bob’s Booby Barn. Wait, that’s topless. Tapas, on the other hand, is found in joints like El Snooteria where the servers dress entirely in black and, in accordance with strict tapas dining guidelines, are prohibited from smiling. Also, in an attempt to make up for the fact that the typical tapas entrée is the size of a bite-sized sample at Costco, they use really, really, really big plates.

“Here’s your braised pork,” the waiter says as he places the dish in front of you.

TRANSLATION: “Here’s a gigantic plate that, when placed over your head, could provide cover from a major tropical storm. I’m sure though, being the sap that you are, this clever illusion will make think you’ve had a lot of food but, fact is, you’re going to leave this table hungry.”

Of course, just as you’re about to dig in to your miniature pork thingy, six other hands comically beat you to it. See, that’s another guideline: you must eat tapas in large groups of people. Failure to do so could result in the risk of you actually consuming food and, what’s worse, potentially feeling like you had dinner. Clearly, this must be prevented at all costs. So before you know it, the braised pork is gone, leaving you staring at a gargantuan—albeit empty—plate. Repeat this about twelve more times and you have a typical tapas dining experience.

Now don’t go getting the wrong idea here. I’m not some kind of cretin who only eats at restaurants where they have pictures of food on the menu. I like good food as much as the next metrosexual but, dammit, I’m tired of leaving restaurants hungry.

Correction: I’m tired of spending a lot of money to leave a restaurant hungry. See, also in accordance with tapas guidelines, restaurants charge not by portion size, but rather by plate size. Enough! Give me real food! Steak! Chicken! Burritos! Big, sloppy, greasy food that, after you eat it, you know you’ve eaten it—largely because you spend the next three hours popping Tums like breath mints. I’m talking real food here. Man food! I know I’m not alone in this thinking either. After all, man’s need to gorge himself goes back to the prehistoric days when a couple of Cavemen set out on the first recorded bachelor party.

    (Techno music blaring in restaurant)


    CAVEWAITER: Here you go!


    CAVEMAN 1 (squinting at gigantic stone plate): What the hell is this?


    CAVEWAITER: Mini-bison sliders.


    Cavemen 1 and 2 exchange looks then quickly begin beating Cavewaiter mercilessly with their clubs.

Okay, show of hands, who’s with me? Who’s ready to fight back against the tapas machine? What we really need is to attack this thing viral-style. You know, assemble a group of 30, 40 pop stars to sing about the plight of the hungry diner (“Stopas the Tapas”), and post the video on YouTube. With any luck, we’d get almost as many views as the one of the bulldog riding the skateboard.

Sadly, I realize I haven’t had my last tapas meal. I know this to be true because I have friends and they have birthdays and, for some reason (probably because they’re not paying), people love to get tapas on their birthday. “Oh, I’ve been just dying to try that new place, La Ripoff! The food’s supposed to be amazing!,” they’ll say with genuine excitement. I’ll respond with nothing more than the forced smile of a tapas veteran who knows he’s going hungry that night.

Wow, after rereading that last sentence, I realize I may be overreacting here. I mean, maybe my next tapas experience won’t be nearly as bad as I think. It might even be fun. Particularly since I’ll be armed with a gigantic plate to throw at the first person that describes the wine as “serene.”