Man, Oh Manwich
Bite Me's been blowin' in the wind since hittin' Phoenix from Lotusland. Cruising up and down Camelback, Central and Scottsdale Road, looking for hot restaurant spots -- the kind that will let her accost diners as they emerge from their repasts. (Look, you idiots, it's free publicity for your divine dives, so grin and bear it when Bite Me and her sidekick, photog Emily Piraino, bare all on your doorstep.) Bite Me's, of course, taken recommendations on where to go from her few Phoenician friends, and from her fellow schlubs at New Times, who, like her, spend far too much time in fast-food joints and cheap Mexican restaurants. Taco Bell, anyone?! What she's looking for are the scenes, places where cool people (young and old) gather to stuff their faces and destroy their livers, but what she's gotten are the following: a transvestite bar that also serves tacos and enchiladas. (Thanks a lot for that one, ya freak! Bite Me's plastic fork snapped in two when she tried to cut off a chunk of her still-mostly-frozen meal. And the green sauce was of questionable origin.). A sushi restaurant that won't allow patrons to take home what they're too full to finish. ("So sorry, but food go bad on way home. Could get sued." Good to know! And that probably explained Bite Me's stomachache.) Bahama Breeze, which was billed as catering to a lot of studly young guys and bodacious babes. (Sure, if you define same as pissed-off paunchy late-thirtysomethings in golf shirts, pale socks and brown loafers and big-assed, bottle-blond betties sportin' black pants suits and garish makeup.)
But to the rescue was Bite Me's homo pal, Hal, who had the good taste to steer her to beef-eaters paradise Durant's last week. (Why is it that fairies have such style? Hal likes to half-quip: "Straights have children, gays have taste.") This time, he took her to his fave haunt, My Florist, to sample the joint's enormously edible sandwiches, salads and fine wines. (Hal bragged about the fancy chef at the place, but this galloping gal had to proclaim: A freakin' chef at a glorified Quizno's; must be why they charge nine bucks American for a peanut-and-jelly.) My Florist (natch) used to peddle petals exclusively, before it became mostly a bakery and then a bakery/restaurant.
Upon entering from the dingy sidewalk along McDowell, Bite Me was struck by the airy, artful decor at the eatery. There's even a swanky grand piano, at which music is put on beginning at 6:30 Monday through Saturday nights and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays. A place for Atkins dieters, this ain't. There're carbs galore. Bite Me decided on the turkey and Brie on pumpernickel. It arrived with a perfectly dressed salad that just about blew her mind. The pumpernickel was thick and hot from the oven, and the turkey was covered with oozing cheese, watercress and some cranberry concoction. Hal had the aforementioned P&B lunchbox special and couldn't stop licking his fingers. Outside, Bite Me realized that her friend wasn't frequenting My Florist just for the food. Not that everybody in the place was gay, but out came a night train of buffed guy flesh in tight dungarees. Man, oh manwich!
Robert Dowles and Tony Evanson
Party-planning business owner and "clean-up boy"
Bite Me: So what kind of parties do you throw?
RD: All sorts. Basically we do staffing and stuff.
Bite Me: Did you plan that party? (Bite Me points to a monstrous group of pretty men suckin' down sandwiches at a long table.)
RD: We do them at private homes.
Bite Me: So are you with that big group? What kind of group is it? (If Bite Me's gaydar is still in proper working order, she'd say My Florist ain't no place for homophobes.)
RD: Yeah. Oh, we're just all friends hangin' out, enjoying the music.
Bite Me: I won't be able to fill a table at my funeral. Lucky you. So, what's your favorite party to plan?
RD: Big bashes! Theme parties. Military parties, where everybody dresses up and wears dog tags.
Bite Me: That sounds hot! I just saw Pearl Harbor with Ben Affleck on video, and damn, he looked hot in that uniform! What'd you guys eat here tonight?
RD: I had the French onion soup, actually.
TE: Actually, I'm feeling kind of sick. That's why I'm leaving.
Bite Me: I'll be real quick, then, I promise. So what do you do for a living?
TE: I work for Robert right now; just moved here from Michigan. (Mock sadness.) I'm a clean-up boy.
RD: I waited on him, and I asked him out. (Bite Me never gets hit on by the waiter. Bite Me gets hit on by the janitor. The bus driver. Nobody who earns plentiful tip money.)
Bite Me: Shut up, where?
RD: Hamburger Mary's.
Bite Me: What's that?
RD: A little gay restaurant up the street, Seventh Street and Camelback. You should check it out. (Hey! Did a little bird tell Robert about Bite Me's little fling with her friend Kimmie?)
Bite Me: Oh, I miss West Hollywood. Those are my people, so out, uh, going. Have you guys ever been to West Hollywood?
RD: Ohhhhhh, yeah.
TE: I haven't.
Bite Me: You're young. There's lots of time for that. Ease in slowly. 'Specially coming from Michigan. They're hounds on the West Coast. What part of Michigan are you from?
TE: I was born in Millington, which is near Frankenmuth.
Bite Me: Oh my God. Frankenmuth, where it's Christmas all the time. Is My Florist a gay pickup spot?
RD: Let's just say it's a really great place to see and be seen. And the music's cool.
Rob Carpentier and Armando Robles
Qwest sales consultant and Sears sales manager
Bite Me: So, Rob, what exactly do you sell?
RC: I sell telephone service, video cable service and high-speed Internet service.
Bite Me: It's some production to get all them services hooked up, eh? (Bite Me was dumfounded when her cable installer came an hour early. In L.A., you practically had to do the cable man to get service.) So what'd you eat tonight?
RC: I had the grilled ham and cheese.
Bite Me: Are their sandwiches the bomb?
RC: They do have great sandwiches here. They have great bread. Their salads and soups are excellent, as well.
Bite Me: How long have you lived here?
RC: Six years.
Bite Me: Don't you want to know how long I've lived here?
RC: Of course! How long have you lived here, honey?
Bite Me: I came over two short weeks ago from L.A.
RC: Wild. I was born in Phoenix, but I was in the Navy in L.A. So afterward I stayed out there a while. Got into a little acting.
Bite Me: Bet you looked good in your tight little sailor pants. What else should I check out in Phoenix?
RC: (He's grinning now.) Hamburger Mary's.
Bite Me: Everybody's pushin' Proud Hamburger Mary's tonight. What does your buddy here do for cash?
AR: I'm a sales manager for Sears. I've been with them 15 years. They've been doin' me right.
Bite Me: They're better than Nordstrom, especially on what New Times pays me. Do they even have Nordstrom here?
AR: Yeah, they do, sweetie. We're not a hick town. It's up at Fashion Square in Scottsdale.
Bite Me: Okay, wait a gosh-darn minute! I love this town. Let's get that straight, especially after the pretentiousness of SoCal. But, hey, I'm a girl. What's the difference between the Navy and the Marines?
AR: The uniforms are much sexier in the Navy.
Bite Me: Seems to me that the Navy's a bunch of pussies and the Marines take the real risks. Hand-to-hand combat, and all that.
AR: Well, imagine being on a ship that's under fire. Not for the faint of heart, either. Then, there are the Navy SEALs, the most elite fighting corps in the military.
Bite Me: Until tonight, I actually thought that the Marines operated the submarines and Navy operated the boats.
AR: They're ships, ya fruitcake.
Bite Me: Look who's talking. But, yes, I dye my hair blond, and I really am this dumb. So tell me about your attempt at acting.
AR: I studied in North Hollywood.
Bite Me: Did you like it?
AR: Yeah, but things happened here more than they did in Hollywood. The training happened in L.A., and the work happened here. I'm also a co-partner with Laura Durant of Durant Communications, helping with publicity for local theater.
Bite Me: Do you love it?
AR: I just started, but yeah, it's nice to have something else going on.
Bite Me: I'm like that, too. I need to have my busy work and then my creative outlet. I paint. Very badly. Lots of smiling suns. God knows I don't write.
AR: Well, you're in the right place to be a great writer. I love New Times, and Phoenix has a lot going on that wasn't 10 years ago. It's a city on the come.
AR: I had the Tuna amandine. It was excellent.
Diane and George LeSatz
Retired teacher and retired coach
Bite Me: How many years have you two been married?
DL: Three months.
Bite Me: Just three months? Where'd you meet?
GL: We were neighbors 40 years ago. So we went ahead and got together again. We both lost our spouses.
Bite Me: Precious. Where did you guys get married?
GL: In Cortez, Colorado. That's where I moved to about 15 years ago. And then we just started seeing each other about two years ago, and recently we honeymooned in Santa Fe.
Bite Me: What'd you eat at My Florist?
DL: It's a wonderful place. I had a great Baja salad.
Bite Me: A salad! I'm sorry, but you oughta forgo the salad and scarf down some carbs. You need some meat on dem bones, chickie.
GL: You're right. She does need some weight on her.
DL: But the salad was great. Chicken, feta cheese, caramelized onion with a sweet dressing. We also had great onion bread.
Bite Me: And you, sir?
GL: I had the same thing she had, and the people we were with had steak salads. They were very good meals, very filling. And there was a great piano player, and the beer and wine were great!
Bite Me: Booze hound. What's your favorite thing about your wife?
GL: I'd say her wonderful personality and the ability that she has to put up with me.
Bite Me: And your favorite thing about your new bundle of manly love?
DL: He's kind, caring and thinks about the other person first. I couldn't have found somebody better. As parlayed to Marnye Oppenheim
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