George Orlando Pickemright is waiting for the feeling.
George Orlando Pickemright -- "G.O.P." to his friends, and he has millions of friends -- has a menu in his hands, and a hole in his soul. Where there ought to be passion -- the white heat of unbridled appetite -- he feels only vague stirrings.
Or maybe it's just acid reflux.
He's been dreaming of this dinner for years now: a gift card to 2012, the gotta-be-there restaurant of the century, for what he's absolutely certain will be the best meal of his life. For what absolutely has to be the best meal of his life -- anything less would be a missed opportunity.
So why shouldn't he be just a little bit antsy? Why shouldn't he take his time before he orders? He reads the menu top to bottom, then reads it again. Twice.
"The Romney is particularly tasty tonight," offers the waiter.
"I don't think so," says George Orlando Pickemright.
The waiter has been hovering at a discreet distance for the better part of half an hour -- ready to assist, reluctant to push. He knows skittish when he sees it. George Orlando Pickemright is skittish.
"I don't see the Palin. Didn't you use to serve the Palin?"
The waiter smiles his best sad smile.
"Not for some time, I'm afraid. We thought we might get it back it back in stock, but alas..."
"I always wanted to try the Palin."
"There are other choices, of course," says the waiter. "Perhaps the Trump?"
But George Orlando Pickemright doesn't want the Trump. For a moment there, he thinks he might want the Trump, but then he decides against it. The Trump would be hard to digest. Same with the Bachmann -- it sounds good at first glance, but the more he thinks about it, the less it satisfies him. He wants something that will more than satisfy him.
It's the same with the Santorum and the Cain -- something's missing. The Paul? A little too strange. And the Gingrich -- well, the Gingrich might have done it for him a decade ago, but certainly not now. These are different times.
"Tell me about your Daily Specials," he says, pointing at the blackboard, and the waiter's smile turns sunburst bright.
"The Perry," the waiter says. "In a rich Texas barbecue sauce. Very popular tonight."
The waiter's hand sweeps grandly across the room, and it's true: Plates of the Perry are practically flying out of the kitchen on polished silver trays. But then George Orlando Pickemright notices something else, something peculiar: Nearly as many plates of the Perry are being sent back to the kitchen!
Could a Daily Special go so bad so quickly? Who knows? But there's something about the Perry that people just don't like. (It could be the barbecue sauce. It could be something else.)
Another glance at the menu, where nothing has changed. He reads it top to bottom anyway.
"You know what might really hit the spot?" he says. "Some Christie. I've heard wonderful things about the Christie."
"The Christie's not in season sir. At least not yet."
"Are you sure?"
"We've checked with our suppliers, sir. Several times. The Christie's simply not available."
"I could wait."
"Sir, there's no guarantee the Christie will ever be available. And excuse me, sir, but you're here for dinner tonight."
George Orlando Pickemright slumps back in his chair. This isn't at all how he pictured it. In the restaurant of his dreams, for the best meal of his life, and nothing moves him. Something is supposed to move him.
"There's still the Romney, sir. There's always the Romney."
"I don't want the Romney."
# # #
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.