June 3, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Eaten alive

By |2021-10-01T20:40:24+02:00June 11th, 2020|Rye Wyt, Essays|
Upgrading the dining experience...

o celebrate the end of our local lockdown, I took my wife and two kids to dinner at Lupus, our local Italian restaurant. I’d been meaning to write about this before but got distracted by race riots in which the restaurant was burned down by protestors who complained it didn’t serve pizza, but that’s a minor point since I live in America, home to pizza and race riots.

The truth is that my wife and kids are fictional, but I still like them a lot and they’re fun to dine with, especially in restaurants that are about to be burned down.

He sat us at a table for four in the special Fictional Family Bubble Room.

But what I’d really like to talk about here is how the dinner went. First, we were greeted by George (an African-American Jew from Maine, who calls himself Giovanni). He was wearing a beautiful Amalfi Coast decontamination suit manufactured by Arnomaly, the America First outlet of Armani. These suits come with decorative hoodies and contain their own oxygen supply and bath oil so you can live in them comfortably for at least a month, or so GeorVanni (which is what I call him) says, explaining they also include “vacuum hygiene,” apparently the newest thing in personal total self-isolation (PTSI).

He sat us at a table for four in the special Fictional Family Bubble Room, which is about the size of a city block. Thankfully, GeorVanni had made sure my wife and kids had an escort to their spots. I received a pair of old opera glasses so I could check on what they were eating. We also used the new Apple iTable “Chatterbox” that let us communicate real words and laugher in real time.

My favorite thing by far was the Tesla Eating Mouthpiece (TEMP), which is an amazing piece of totally American state-of-the-art tech, part of Tesla’s new SooChic digital eating line, which the guy who owns Tesla, Mr. Nylon Tusk, apparently invented while frying a free-range egg on a solar panel.

Anyway, you get your SooChi on the eating belt that comes in after you vocalize your order on “Chatter.” You put it on like any other mask (never mind that it’s purple) and then, well, just start talking to it, as in “I want a cheeseburger and fries,” to which it responds either, “Have a great day!” or “Your call is very important to us.” When you hear the word “important,” you just tell it how you want the burger cooked, medium, say, and it replies, “Please hold while we process your food.”

And it does a great job!

Suddenly, you get the taste of burgers and fries and hear a little whirring sound, basically Apple’s way of telling you’re eating the food you’ve been served, or the mask is on your behalf. You can tell it, “Please reduce carb intake,” and the mask will adjust all the levels by itself, measuring all your basic bodily systems, adjusting for BMI and BTU and GRE and QQ7, none of which cause cancer and are of course totally virus free.

No more waiters who say, “My name is Brutus and I’ll be your server tonight.”

While your mask is on “intake nutrition mode” (INM) you can use the opera glasses to check out what your daughter’s doing, usually sighing or sexting or just breathing into the mask, whose VC (visual component) includes landscapes with Italian pasta farmers doing their thing or singing fish… the usual.

The Tusk Mask is amazing with wines and desserts. The wine list you get by saying, “Match Red” or “Match White,” after which your palate is tickled by remote sensors that flood it with information about the source of the wine. The only down side is that your tongue doesn’t have a brain, so you have to use your own to decide if you like what you’re tasting (this is annoying, but tongue sensors are on the way). As for desserts, just say “Fruit me” or “Do me in vanilla,” anything with a verb, and you get a choice of at least 400 fruits and 250 cakes. Never say “All me,” because that might give you a taste of yourself that, according to GeorVanni, could break cannibalism rules.

Still, this is a pretty cool way to dine with friends and family in an age in which friends and family in actual terms can get on your nerves, plus you have to pay for them, and sit vaguely near them, by itself terrifying.

No more utensils. No more guy or girl with that little badge or a waiter who says, “Good evening, my name is Brutus and I’ll be your server tonight.” Who needs Brutus when you can have your Apple and eat it? I’ll be honest: I was a little worried my life would come undone back in the real post-lockdown world. But now, with Mask Munching and Familiar Race Riots I feel more at home than ever.

About the Author:

Joel Stein is the assumed named of a humor columnist who doubles as a senior marketing representative. He does have a not-so- assumed daughter named Rebecca.