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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)

TITLE: Mardi Gras In October
By joe hodson


I told my wife, “Forget packing my lunch today!” My work was treating all its employees to a special lunch down in the company cafeteria. A week earlier I had left my cubicle to look out the window at all the lucky people outside. When I came back to my desk, I found beads, a plastic gold coin and a queer looking memo. Right away, I bit the coin to see if it was real. It was real, alright! And was good for one free lunch. The memo heralded the good news with colorful print and party logos. Dancing around the border were Mardi Gras masks and strange, laughing men in bright tights. It read: “Come join us Wednesday, October 16th in the company cafeteria to celebrate Mardi Gras in October!!” What a windfall; our company had just won a new client from New Orleans. Jambalaya, Gumbo, King’s Cake and, I think, Who-hash was on the main menu. A fountain drink also was included (but “No Refills.”). A time slot was doled out for each department when they could go to the cafeteria and collect on their Louisiana lunch plate. My slot was from 1:00pm to 1:30pm. I sneaked down five minutes early with gold coin ready.
Greeting me at the doorway was a tall, foreign woman. She wore beads and a plastic, green derby hat. In her hand she held a bucket perfect for collecting gold coins. The cafeteria stunk like poison. My mouth started to water. Back in the kitchen someone was cooking up a hot batch of either Cajun food or mustard gas. My nose followed the scent to the cook standing behind the sneeze guard. Beside her stood a tower of prepackaged containers, bursting with beans and rice. She handed me one with a grin. She recognized me from a week before when I misread the date of the Mardi Gras party. I stormed in, waving my plastic, gold coin, and demanding, “Give me my Jambalaya! Where’s my Who-hash?!” All the cooks were thrown into utter confusion, and ran to get the kitchen manager. Some one forgot to inform them that Mardi Gras had changed months and was moving north to Columbus, Ohio. “We don’t have your Who-hash, sir. We don’t even know what that is. Now please calm down.” The rented security guard mumbled something into his walkie-talkie. Finally, one of my coworkers told me, “Mike, the Mardi Gras lunch is next week. Didn’t you read the memo?”
No matter, that was water under the bridge. I sat down with my food at a lonely table in the corner of the room. The inside of the non-biodegradable container was drenched in sweat from Gumbo steam. Rice and beans were thrown together with some mysterious meat. The King Cake was a burnt cinnamon roll speckled with green sugar crystals. The food presentation was flawless. All week I waited for this very moment in time. I pounced on it with my fork like a wild animal.

I took two bites and dumped it in the trash.

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This article has been read 874 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Julie Arduini01/11/07
Great description and build up. You left me grinning, a fun read!
julie wood01/12/07
I really enjoyed this story! Wonderfully vivid descriptions--I could see and taste the spicy exotic foods and their disappointing versions in the cafeteria.

Was a bit puzzled by the timing of events--About the final description of the foods: beans, rice, cinnamon roll with sugar crystals, etc.: Was that the actual Mardi Gras meal a week later, or was it what the narrator ate by mistake a week early? Since he threw the "real" meal in the trash, I wasn't sure!
Sue Stone01/15/07
Interesting use of build up, of how anticipation and reality are often not the same.
Sara Harricharan 01/17/07
So sad! I wanted to laugh, but was sad at the end how it didn't turn out as expected. A pretty interesting twist! Just a tip-add some extra spaces in between to make for easier reading!
Marilyn Schnepp 03/08/07
Definitely a "writer with a great imagination" wrote this interesting and witty piece. To be more "reader friendly", put spacing between paragraphs. (If you're looking for win, place or show - Judges look for "clear point or message") The only thing I can figure the point being...anything FREE isn't worth the trouble? Hmmmm, still figuring that one out.
But very good otherwise.