Open Thread: I’ll have the salad

(By Coleslaw)

I also have an idea for a thread topic, but I don’t know how interesting it would be to anyone other than myself. The idea is for participants to write an opening paragraph or two for an adventure story that starts with the words, “I’ll have the salad”, with two caveats. One, it must make sense for the character to order a salad (no, “I’ll have the salad”, said Indiana Jones) and two, it must make sense for the story to start with those words, rather than start at some other point.

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5 thoughts on “Open Thread: I’ll have the salad

  1. Coleslaw January 28, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Well, I’ll start, since it was my idea:

    “I’ll have the salad,” I said for the third time, trying to keep irritation out of my voice. My host, Sherwin Owens Senior, as he styled himself, had made yet another recommendation of a dish I might prefer, this time the Chilean bass. I try to make allowances for my clients’ behavior on first meetings. They don’t come to me unless there is some highly stressful event in their life, some turning point they have come to, some major decision to make, or some puzzle that remains unsolved. This case, the disappearance of Owens’ sister, falls in this last category. They were close, according to his account. Last fall, she had boarded a plane with several other members of her church returning from a mission trip, and then, when they got to the airport, she was nowhere to be found. Her luggage remained unclaimed, Owens hadn’t heard from her since, and the police had turned up nothing. So yes, he was not at his best, and yes, this was his favorite restaurant and he no doubt knew all their specialties, and yes, he was trying to escape having to talk about the subject that brought him to me in the first place, but I still got the impression of a man who always knows best, better than you certainly, and while that attitude didn’t matter so much for my lunch, it did for my investigation.

    “Mr. Owens,” I continued firmly. “Let’s try to stick to the subject, shall we? First of all, I really am a psychic. I am not one of those fraauds who rely on cold readings to delude the unsophicated. If I research you on the internet or through one of my investigator associates, I will tell you that that is where I got my information and not pretend it really came to me in a dream. I won’t make up a vague vision of water and then claim success whether it turns out that your sister was drowned or merely was last seen talking to a stranger by a water fountain. If you’ve heard of me at all, you’ve heard of me from people who can vouch for me.

    “Furthermore, I am interested in your sister’s case. She sounds like an admirable woman who deserves help if it is still within our power to help us or justice if it is not. So, let me recap: I am a legitimate psychic, I want to help you find your sister, and I will have the salad.”

    Owens blinked a few times before saying, to me, “I think we can work together, then” and to the waiter, who had just appeared, “I’ll have the game special of the day and the lady will have the orzo and vegetable salad.”

  2. christhecynic January 28, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    “I’ll have the salad,” Alya said, trying not to sigh and looking at the strange words the menu assured her were English, dreading what the local flora and fauna might actually be like. One of the problems with avoiding the restaurants tailored to off-worlders –tacky places that had about as much idea about what Earth food was like as an “Alerbronian” restaurant on Earth had about what actual Alerbronian food was like– was that you were expected to be familiar with the local cuisine.

    Still, from planet to planet one thing remained the same, salad was always salad. The ingredients were part of the basic “Earth life” package that settlers brought with them to a new world. Other things might be tailored to the world in question, which explained why this one had no beef, but salad was always salad.

    Though it was safe, it was far from her favorite and she hoped her stay here would either not be long, or would include an encyclopedia to tell her what these strangely named foods were. She could kill for a Desinary ram prepared in the classic Turkish style and casually wondered how Earthers had survived before the discovery of Desinar. Of course, given what she might have to do, “could kill for” took on unintended meaning.

    Obviously she would only kill someone who deserved it, but if there were Desinary ram prepared in classic Turkish style involved she might go out of her way to find someone who deserved it.

    Now she did sigh.

    She looked at her watch, the analog hands were meaningless to anyone not on her schedule but she quickly toggled the digital to local time and saw that her contact was not as late as she had thought.

    But it was still late. When it arrived she would make sure it knew of her displeasure at it being late. Perhaps she could even use that to get it to agree to a higher price.

    The salad arrived.

  3. Lonespark January 29, 2014 at 7:33 am

    I…don’t do adventure fiction. Apparently. But this is an open-ish thread, right? So maybe I’ll riff on this somehow.

  4. Coleslaw January 29, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Yes, it’s mostly about what you can do with a bland and innocuous sounding opening, so if you can go anywhere interesting from “I’ll have the salad”, that would be fine by me. Mine was really more a mystery story, which of course can be adventurous. Chris really nailed the adventure part (and I would love to read a whole story with that opening).

    I made some errors in mine: “deserves help if it is still within our power to help us” should of course been “power to help her”, “unsophicated” was supposed to be “unsophisticated” and “fraauds” should be “frauds”. I notice auto-correct has finally got its lazy butt out of bed and showed up to correct all the intentional misspellings in my response, though.

  5. Lonespark January 30, 2014 at 8:30 am

    “I’ll have the salad,” I said out of habit, and this time the young server didn’t blink at my unusual request.

    “Coming right up, sir!” they snapped, and swiftly vanished.

    After that I sank deep into my thoughts. The one I love is leaving, and I might have a choice to follow… but what a doom to choose! To cross a sea, to leave the home of my people and all our forbears… To leave behind the very world-bone rock from which the Stoneshaper hewed us, in the misty ages long ago…

    To seek adventure, as I’ve ever loved to do. To carve the mark of my family’s name on the land my love holds holy. To once again stand in the golden presence of my shining Lady.

    We have a song, a very old one – perhaps from the last time our peoples lived as friends – that tells how the Stonefolk never leave this world. “Not for any love,” so goes the song, The words are certain but not joyful…

    “Not for any love…” but I have two. And some say the Shaper himself holds court beyond the sea. I don’t credit those stories… Yet the more I think on it, the more my heart cries for the journey. For a new land to see, and perhaps a new contest. For a glimpse of a golden smile.

    He has meant to go before, but love has stayed him. I can set my feet upon the shifting sea. My folk fear nothing. Before my heart was heavy; now it aches, but it is light.

    I didn’t notice the server’s return. Perhaps they are practicing stealth to impress someone? Or perhaps my mind was simply elsewhere. It’s a good thing I ordered a dish that’s just as good cold.

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