Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Texas Challenge

A friend recently explained to me in great detail how a pendulum, swinging in an arc, never again reaches the height of the point that it started at. In truth his explanation was fascinating....science, when couched in simple terms is always good for interesting after-dinner or over-pints conversation. Speaking of dinner and pints and pendulums reminds me that I once went to a Texas steakhouse, near Houston, a cavernous music-hall style place on whose menu was 'The Texas Challenge', a 72oz steak, served with Texas fries and refried beans, which if the patron finished it, entitled him (inevitably an 'him') to a meal on the house, like you'd ever eat again after consuming 41/2 pounds of a Texas steer in one sitting. Needless to say, there are several takers for this challenge each night and this night was no exception.

The 'Hall' was filled with hundreds of diners, many in Stetsons, huge and high-ceilinged, with a grand piano onstage at the front...being played by a nonchalant pianist, when suddenly, mid-tune, a sultry, scantily-clad, long-legged, long-haired, long-horned Texan temptress, stepped onto the stage, her impossibly high stilletto heels shimmering, she crossed the stage and with an athletic tour de force, summersaulted onto the piano, and side-saddle mounted onto a white-silk-ribboned swing, which had been, until that moment, invisible to me, suspended by 30 foot silk-ribbon ropes from the high ceiling's centre-point, far above the pianist's head, simultaneously capturing the attention of most of the diners in the restaurant, in particular the males.

She slowly started to swing to his melody, back and forth, slowly, tantalizingly slow at first, the effort, seemingly impotent as she stretched and kicked to get the swing to respond, her pumping legs and breasts and hair, the arc getting longer as she pedaled her legs, back, and forth, hypnotic, daring, sexually-sensuous, higher and higher she swung to the music, whooshing across the huge room, above our heads, impossibly high, her dress and hair extended against the wind's flow, pressing against her breasts, her flowing hair alternatively revealing and hiding her gloriously rapt face and smile, the room, growing more and more silent, as all conversation lulled and ceased entirely, ceding to the interloper's performance, all eating and drinking forgotten, as she accelerated, the swing responding now to her obvious effort, her face intent, her flight, back and forth, swiftly swooping down from across the room, at each pass, ruffling the pianist's hair, trifling with him, daring him to flinch, impossibly rising again from her death-dive, to cross and soar up over the other half of the room, and turn, at the breath-taking peak, to swoop again, the music crescendoeing now, faster, faster, higher, higher, closer, closer, everyone holding their collective breaths, hundreds of pairs of eyes fixed on her flying folly, her graceful legs, toes pointed, stilettos shimmering, sword-points to cleave the pianist's head at each pass, the danger, obvious, thrilling, hypnotic, whish, swish, beads of sweat on every watchers brow, stop her, stop her, she will fall, he will die.

Unspoken, breathless, all frozen now, the scene was set for the inevitable climax as she approached the apogee of her arc, her knees almost touching the room's roof at the end of each pass, her whole being now a comet, her dress a glimmering meteor shower, approaching the point of no return, the final pass, the music deafening now, impossibly tortured notes shook the whole room as she reached out one long, slender, tender leg to break her collision with the roof, but instead, at the last moment kicked out, hard and fast..... to ring the heretofore un-noticed cow-bell suspended there, ding-ding, and turned to swoop again, to repeat her feat by kicking the second bell, on the opposite side, and again and again, and again, the music poised, stopped mid-note and finally, carillons of joyous peals rang out over the room, a collective panting pent-up breath-release, as she turned her knowing face to ours and satisfied, exhausted, she lays back flat on the swing, prone, spent, her swing slowing, gliding back to earth.

We breathe again, conversations resume, cutlery clinks, yet everything has changed, all of us now, fading embers, aglow in the evening fire, sated; Our steaks were well and truly done!