Thursday, October 6, 2011

Hell's Kitchen

When it comes to evil humans, none were as wicked as King Tantalus.  He often tricked the gods and spilled their secrets.  But his worst offense was serving his divine dinner party a meal made of human meat.  Oh, and the slaughtered human was his own son.  You know, for a laugh!  As punishment for his despicable meal, Tantalus was sent to a corner of the underworld where he could sit in a pool of water underneath a tree with low-hanging fruits, the juiciest in the world.  He got off pretty easy, it seemed.  However, whenever he reached for the fruit, the branch would move it away.  And whenever he leaned down for a drink, the water would dry up.  His hunger and thirst grew to insurmountable levels as the nourishment he needed lay tantalizingly close.

Tantalus (~1640s) - Gioacchino Assereto

Poor Grover.  As the sole waitstaff member of Charlie's Restaurant, he must tend to all of the customers and deal with all of their complaints.  However, there is one regular customer who finds himself returning to the restaurant despite his dissatisfaction with the establishment: Mr. Johnson.

Mr. "Fat Blue" Johnson, our Tantalus

Every interaction he has with Grover ends in misery.  His order is never right (or in some cases, never brought) and the one time of day he gets to rest, the one time of day he gets a break from his office, is squandered by choosing this place to eat.  He only gets a brief window of time for his lunch-hour and he never receives what he wants.

So why does he keep coming back?  What draws him to this dismal dining hall?  Even he does not know how he ends up here, day after day.

My theory is that Mr. Johnson is no longer of this world.  Through some past life, he has sinned greatly and he is doomed to spend an eternity at Charlie's.  We never see him before or after his visits.  We never see him at his place of work.  Whenever he is away from the restaurant, Grover is on hand to torture him some more, like his own personal demon.  The unseen Charlie is Satan, lurking in the shadows, ready to orchestrate the most unspeakable evils upon the menu items.  This restaurant is clearly one of the circles of hell, designed to punish unruly and impatient customers.

When these sketches began, Grover wasn't standing in the way of Mr. Johnson and his food.  He would genuinely try to help and he would get caught up and frustrated with the man's complicated orders.  Often, Mr. Johnson is the victim of his own faults, failing to speak clearly.  He starts off with an antagonistic mindset, believing Grover to be his enemy, and so, he does not cooperate when it comes time to order.

Mr. Johnson could have helped Grover through his problem rather than made a snarky show of his lack of utensils.  At the end of this clip, it seems that the gods of culinary appreciation strike Mr. Johnson dead, and any clip that follows shows him in the afterlife.  After all, why else would his skin be blue if he were not already deceased?

And so, this is his fate.  Every day he is promised the prospect of a fulfilling meal and every day it is taken away from him.  It is a grim way to spend the rest of one's afterlife.  Hopefully we can learn by this example and be courteous when attending eateries.  And always be sure to tip your waiters!

Tonight, we dine in hell!

No comments:

Post a Comment