John Landis Starts a Food Fight

Table 52 serves as a fulcrum in an exciting establishment found in downtown Chicago’s beating heart. It can accommodate anywhere from six to eight people, and even nine on occasion, provided that people do not mind rubbing elbows while poking at forkfuls of chopped salad or whitefish.

It was set for eight on the day when John Landis, director of ‘70’s classic “Animal House”, parked in Position One, a number assigned to the first person to receive lunch upon delivery. It was a Wednesday, and the dining room was crowded with theatergoers leisurely lunching before their afternoon matinee.  Mr. Landis ordered whitefish. Lastly, I’ll briefly mention its garnish, a garlic-crusted tomato, which was a prop in the brief comedy in which Mr. Landis and I briefly starred.

The eatery was full, as I mentioned, and that was keeping me very occupied. Managing to top off the iced teas at a quartet of “two-tops” (small tables for two), greeting four recently seated diners, and delivering a drink order in a timely way was a balancing act that day. But lunch had arrived at Table 52 and my guests were nibbling at their items. It was time to check if they were content.

I approached the table and addressed the guests, Mr. Landis included.

“Is there anything you need at the moment?” I inquired.

“No,” said the precocious director,” but here’s an offer.”

He sized me up.

“I’ll pay you fifty bucks to take this tomato and throw it at the woman sitting in the corner.”

Looking in the direction of Table 64, I saw his victim sitting at a similarly round table, wearing wrap-around sunglasses over her spectacles. Her silver hair lay in curls around the nape of her neck.

Now, I had nothing against The Woman Sitting at Position Five at Table Sixty Four. But I hated that style of sunglasses and do to this day.

I looked at the tomato, then at John Landis. Then I re-eyed the tomato.

Looking at him again, I asked,” Can you get me a job?”

This ended with the simultaneous cacophony of a congratulatory laugh from my challenger and an emphatic chorus of “NO!!”’s from his friends.


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