Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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A Bloomin' Onion

July 20, 2016

Reworked from a 2012 post.

 

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This is how The Outback Restaurant describes its Bloomin' Onion appetizer: a true Outback original. “Our special onion is hand-carved by a dedicated bloomologist, cooked until golden and ready to dip into our spicy signature bloom sauce.”

           

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

           

Several years ago, Mrs. C. and I ducked into our local Outback for an early dinner. We often sit in the bar where it’s permitted to order from the regular menu.

 

We’d just ordered our drinks when the server arrived with a Bloomin' Onion.

           

“We didn’t order this,” I informed him.

           

The server smiled and said, “One of our kitchen employees is a former student of yours, spotted you and asked me to send this complimentary appetizer for you to enjoy.”

           

“How nice. Would you ask them to come here so we can thank them?” I said.

           

“Sorry but his shift ended. He’s gone for the day.”

           

“What does he look like?”

           

The server shrugged. “Basic looking guy. Sorry, but I have to go. Other tables to wait on.”

           

Mrs. Chatterbox and I sat there, sipping our drinks and staring at the onion. “What do you think?” I asked. “Do you think we should eat it?”

           

Mrs. C. has a much queasier stomach than I do. “What if this is from a student you flunked? You did flunk students when you were an art professor, didn’t you?”

           

I nodded. “I’d say a fifth of those enrolled in my classes didn’t receive passing grades, usually for not showing up for class or refusing to put out much effort.”

           

Mrs. C. wrinkled her nose at the Bloomin' Onion that was turning my stomach into a symphony of anticipation. “What if this was sent by a disgruntled student and they spat on it in the kitchen? After all, this is a former student working at The Outback, not someone who’s blazing a path through the art scene by capitalized on what you taught them.”

           

She made a good point, but damn that Bloomin' Onion looked good. “Maybe it was an “A” student. There were plenty of those. Why be so suspicious?”

           

“It’s disturbing they didn’t identify themselves. So what if their shift was over? I mean it would only have taken a few minutes.”

           

“I say we throw caution to the wind and eat it.”

           

“Go ahead if you want to. I’m not touching it.”

           

A group of college kids descended on the table next to ours. After the server checked their IDs and took beer orders an unshaven dude with red-rimmed eyes nodded at me and said, “That’s one good looking Bloomin' Onion!”

           

I picked it up and handed it to him. “We haven’t touched it. Enjoy, with our compliments.”

           

“No shit? Thanks dude.”

           

The college kids attacked that Bloomin' Onion like jackals on a baby antelope. I doubt a little spit would have slowed them down.

           

What would you have done with this Bloomin' Onion? Would you have eaten it?

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

23 Comments
I take things on faith and would have eaten it thinking it was sent with the best intentions. R
By: Rick Watson on July 20, 2016
Hmm...I'm not sure I would have eaten it either. If the guy had hung around and said hello, sure, but since he left as soon as you got the order...nope. Good save on sending it to the next table...at least the food wasn't wasted!
By: Terri @ Coloring Outside the Lines on July 20, 2016
Your wife had a good point. Since you didn't know who made it, good call to give it to the college students. I haven't eaten one of those grease balls in years, but they are good.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on July 20, 2016
To eat or not to eat; that is the question!!
By: fishducky on July 20, 2016
If I liked the idea of Blooming Onion, I likely would have believed it was giving to me out of sincere appreciation. I suspect you would have had a far more positive reputation among your students than negative. But why ask what he looked like instead of his name?
By: Hilary on July 20, 2016
i would have. :)
By: TexWisGirl on July 20, 2016
I would have been so torn for I love blooming onions. They are on my last meal wish list but you did have the possibly disgruntled student thoughts to deal with. Bummer.
By: Arkansas Patti on July 20, 2016
There is something a bit sketchy about a fellow sending you an item and then suddenly his shift changes. But I would not have eaten it anyway. Lana and I had a Bloomin' Onion once and we both ended up with terrible stomach aches and disorder. Never again!
By: Tom Cochrun on July 20, 2016
I've always wanted to try the bloomin onion but it's not something I could eat on my own. Those things are like a lifetime's worth of fat and salt and calories--and that's before they came out with the "Loaded" one smothered in cheese and bacon and stuff. So your heart thanks you for not eating it.
By: PT Dilloway on July 20, 2016
it probably would never have occurred to me that it might not be the gift it was supposed to be. strange that the bartender doesn't know his co-workers though.
By: Ellen Abbott on July 20, 2016
Of course my family would eat it. When it comes down to it, employees don't have time to be spitting in certain people's food, and they know the consequences if they get caught, so they don't.
By: messymimi on July 20, 2016
yep- we love them! burp! I would have trusted the student was a happy student!
By: Kathe W. on July 20, 2016
I'd have eaten it in a heartbeat. Our skating group had the same thing in Dairy Queen when we were having coffee. same anonymous person. Left the building. we enjoyed the treat. I think the owner treated us as we always have coffee there.
By: red Kline on July 20, 2016
Easy, in general I don't like onions. I'm guessing it was perfectly safe and sent with good intentions, but I can understand your reticence.
By: cranky on July 20, 2016
As a 28-year teaching veteran...I think I would have given it away.
By: Val on July 20, 2016
I dont find it appetizing looking so probably wouldnt. But if it had been sometging i loved the look of, then hmmmmm.....
By: Jenny woolf on July 20, 2016
I would have passed, too...but more because I prefer to get my excess fat in the way of chocolate and ice cream. Ha!
By: Pixel Peeper on July 20, 2016
Very suspicious that the waiter couldn't even give you the former student's name. I would not have been as smart as your wife in figuring it out that fast. I do not eat those because they are very deliious and totally unhealthy.
By: Tabor on July 21, 2016
I would have been extremely reticent to eat it. But you are wicked! Did you stick around to see if that group of college kids survived?!?
By: Mitchell is Moving on July 21, 2016
I would have thrown caution to the wind and enjoyed it... and a few antacid afterwards.
By: Daniel LaFrance on July 21, 2016
Once again, I side with your wife.
By: Tom Sightings on July 21, 2016
I would have choked down on this in a heartbeat. I think we can get carried away with our fears and suspicions. Considering we have eaten some gross things in the past, this probably would not have hurt you. You don't eat this every day so the artery buster would have been fine
By: Birgit on July 23, 2016
It would have been gone in five minutes :)
By: The Bug on July 23, 2016

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