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Moist at the Palomino

Humiliation served up at a local restaurant

The other day a friend asked me to meet him for lunch at “The Palomino Bar” in Bayview.
I said, “Yeah, well, I’m not sure I’m welcome there anymore.”
That’s because one hot summer morning I decided to hike from South Milwaukee to Bayview along the Oak Leaf and Forked Astor Trails and I ask my wife, Ruth if she’d like to meet me at The Palomino for lunch afterward. She says OK but, since it’s like 90˚ out, she wants to reserve a table indoors. Fine.
I love to hike. Time becomes pleasantly elastic on the trail, bathed in that ocean of calming cool, green, mesmerized by the sounds of the forest.
When I hike I wear long sleeves, long pants and a hat to fight off sunburn, poison ivy and bug bites. Maybe a little overdressed for 90˚ but I figured it’s always cooler by the lake. I’ll take my time and drink plenty of water … which is easy because I have a Camelbak? It’s a bladder of water in a backpack - holds a lot, a couple of liters - and there’s a tube with a bite valve on the end so, easy to stay hydrated.
Most of the trail is in the shade but still, eight miles, three and a half hours on a hot day …
When I reach the Palomino, I’m definitely overheated. I’m soaked through and having second thoughts about going inside and horrifying the other patrons.
I wish I could say, “I don’t care what people think,” but that's not true. Human nature or just my nature, I care what everyone thinks. I know what the other diners are going to think when this hot drippy mess splashes down beside them.
Ruthy arrives minutes later and I ask, ”Do I look OK?”
She says, “Sure, you’ll be fine.” She wants lunch.
Inside the AC is a shock. My pants and shirt are three shades darker in all the most embarrassing places. My eyes are stinging, sweat is trickling down my back. I hoped we’d be seated way in the back but, no, right in the middle, center stage.
The hostess hands us menus, looks at me and says, “You’re disgusting.” Not out loud but, you know, with her eyes.
Ostrich-like, I bury my very red face in the menu, hoping I’ll cool off, dry out and people will stop staring and go back to their meals.
And then things got ten times worse.
See, when I sat down I hung my backpack on the back of my chair. The tube dropped and somehow the chair leg pinched the bite valve so while I’m hiding in the menu, the entire contents of the water bladder emptied on the floor around our table forming an inland sea.
I only realized what happened when people walking by are scowling at me as they wade through what, judging from my appearance, is a puddle of my flop sweat. I was mortified.
And just in case anyone in the building hadn’t noticed my humiliation, our waitress finally arrives with a squeegee, mop and bucket.
I haven’t visited the Palomino since. And, luckily, I wouldn’t be having lunch there with my friend. I checked their website and it says their kitchen is temporarily closed.
I'm guessing water damage.

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