by Michael McCormick
Greg, Ricky, Joel, and Sean all left the basketball court and headed over to the parking lot. Three two-on-two games in a row and now everyone was exhausted (particularly Sean, who every one of his friends and family members agreed was a monster on the court). They were now ready for some lunch.
“Where we gonna’ go?” Ricky asked, wiping sweat off his face. “Can we do something other than Sonic?”
“I’m good with anything,” Sean said, dribbling one of the basketballs on the parking lot.
“I just want a drink,” Greg said. “I don’t really care what we eat.”
“How about Luby’s?” Joel suggested.
“I’m not in the mood for Luby’s,” Ricky replied.
“I need a drink,” Greg said. “What are places that I can get a drink?”
“There’s Jack and John’s,” Sean suggested.
“Blegh!” Ricky replied. “Forget that.”
“Why don’t we just get a pizza somewhere?” Joel asked. “Then we can get drinks somewhere else.”
“Can we not make a million stops?” Ricky replied.
“What about Sam’s?” Sean suggested.
“Yes, let’s go there,” Joel said, wiping a bead of sweat on his neck. “Can we get out of the sun already?”
“Yeah, let’s go to Sam’s,” Greg said. “I’m down for some Mountain Sunrise.”
“Ricky?” Sean asked.
“What’s Sam’s?” Ricky replied. “I’ve never heard of it.”
“It’s a steakhouse,” Joel said. “You’ll like it. Come on, let’s go! It’s freaking hot!”
“Alright, whatever,” Ricky said. “I’m okay with steak.”
With that, the four friends hopped in their cars and drove away from the park. Being the very middle of lunch hour, the roads were quite busy. It took nearly twenty minutes for the four to arrive in the parking lot of Sam’s Steak Shack.
Sam’s Steak Shack had been up and running in central Houston for nearly thirty years. While hardly known outside of Houston, the steakhouse was massively popular within the city. Top quality steaks, excellent service, and a clean and relaxing atmosphere made for the perfect spot to eat. In addition, the steakhouse was known for being home to the Mountain Sunrise, a drink that could not be found at any other restaurant. Popular among young males (particularly young males who had only recently become legally allowed to consume alcohol), the Mountain Sunrise had a unique flavor and delightful taste that was very difficult to forget. Most diners who experienced this delightful taste for the first time looked forward to paying several visits to Sam’s Steak Shack in the future for the sole purpose of having the drink again.
After a ten-minute wait, a woman led the four friends to their table in the back of the restaurant. Greg was frustrated that he had to wait so long just to get his drink, Ricky was so hungry that he was about to start gnawing on the table, Joel was just relieved to finally be out of the sun, and Sean had his mind set on taking a thirty-minute shower as soon as he arrived home.
“Next time we play ball, I’m bringing a pack of Budweiser,” Greg said as he sat down. “I hope that isn’t illegal.”
“If it is, I’m not bailing you out,” Sean said.
“It’s okay, his granny will probably take care of it,” Ricky said.
“Shut up,” Greg said with a grin. Ricky chuckled.
“Hey Sean, when’s your interview again?” Joel asked, taking a look at his menu.
“Monday,” Sean replied. “Wish me luck guys. It took me five freaking months to get this interview. If I don’t get the job, I’m probably going to smash a window.”
“Then you’d better stay away from my car,” Greg said.
“Ah, I’m sure you’ll get it, Sean,” Ricky said. “Who wouldn’t hire someone with your smoking hot body?”
“I think it’s going to be a guy,” Sean replied.
“And how do you know he won’t be interested in your hot body?”
“Oh, shut the hell up.”
Having never been to the restaurant before, Ricky looked around. It seemed like every other steakhouse he had been to before. Walls made of wood, pictures showing the restaurant in its earlier days, pictures of the food served at the restaurant, and several other pictures of the famous Mountain Sunrise. Ricky was quite curious to see what it tasted like.
Greg also looked around the restaurant. Every table was full. Mostly with young men, though there were a few families. Almost every young man in the restaurant had a glass of Mountain Sunrise to their side. Greg could hardly wait to get his own glass of the delicious beverage. He was sure that he was going to have drunk at least three glasses by the time he left the restaurant.
Greg also noticed at least two young men who had glasses of what appeared to be water. Greg was baffled why any man would come to Sam’s Steak Shack and not order the Mountain Sunrise. It was utterly bizarre to him. Water could be found at every other restaurant in existence. Could these men just not see the Mountain Sunrise advertisements all over the walls?
After another minute or two, their waitress returned to their table with a pen and notepad in her hand.
“What can I get y’all to drink?” the waitress asked.
Greg said: “Mountain Sunrise” without even blinking.
Sean, who also had been looking forward to a glass of Mountain Sunrise since Sam’s Steak Shack was decided on, also ordered the drink.
Ricky, although he didn’t know what Mountain Sunrise tasted like, was very curious as to why it was so popular. He also ordered a glass.
Joel looked at the beverage section of the menu. The menu heavily promoted Mountain Sunrise (there was a large picture of the famous drink at the top of the beverage section), but he was not interested. He had tasted Mountain Sunrise before and he wasn’t a fan of it. There was another beverage that he was hoping the restaurant served (he had only visited the restaurant once before). Sure enough, his favorite beverage was written in clear letters at the bottom of the page.
“Can I get some pink lemonade?” Joel asked.
“Sure,” the waitress replied, writing the order on her notepad. “Okay, I’ll be right back with your drinks.”
After the waitress left, Greg stared at Joel with a puzzled expression.
“Pink lemonade?” Greg asked. “What?”
“Umm…yeah,” Joel said, looking at the steak section of the menu. “I ordered pink lemonade.”
“Are you serious, Joel? Pink lemonade?”
“What’s wrong with pink lemonade?”
Greg smiled and chuckled. “Well now I’ve seen everything.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. We come to Sam’s, the only place where you can get Mountain Sunrise, and you order freaking pink lemonade. I just can’t wrap my mind around that.”
“Well, what if I like pink lemonade?”
“Honestly, I would be a lot less weirded out if you got water. Freaking pink lemonade. Seriously.” Greg chuckled and looked at his menu.
“Dude, leave him alone,” Sean said to Greg. “Let him drink what he wants.”
“I’m not going to stop him from drinking it,” Greg replied. “I just find it kind of weird, that’s all.”
“How is it weird?” Joel asked. He was feeling incredibly irritated.
“Let me repeat what I said. We’re at Sam’s. The only place where you can get Mountain Sunrise, and you order pink lemonade. You don’t see anything weird about that?”
Joel breathed deeply in frustration. “No, I don’t.”
“It is pretty weird,” Ricky said. “Why would you even get pink lemonade?”
“Because I like pink lemonade,” Joel replied. “Why would you even ask me that?”
Greg and Ricky both snickered.
“He’s probably also gonna’ order a salad,” Ricky said.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Greg said.
The two laughed even harder. Joel was becoming more and more infuriated.
“Guys, knock it off,” Sean said. His tone of voice showed that he was incredibly frustrated. “If he likes pink lemonade, let him like pink lemonade.”
“He can like it all he wants,” Greg replied. “I won’t stop him. But it’s still weird.”
“No, it’s not,” Joel muttered. His face was turning red.
“Hey, let’s go to a bar later tonight,” Ricky said. “Forget beer, let’s get drunk on pink lemonade.”
Greg and Ricky laughed so hard that diners sitting nearby looked in the direction of their table. By that point, Joel was very close to blowing a fuse. Sean had half a mind to break Greg and Ricky’s noses.
“Come on, Joel,” Greg said. “Be a man and get some Mountain Sunrise like the rest of us.”
The “be a man” comment ended up being what completely set Joel off. Without even trying to control himself, Joel screamed: “I don’t like Mountain Sunrise!”
Joel’s scream was so loud that everyone in the restaurant heard him. To many, a negative statement about Mountain Sunrise was practically a crime inside the doors of Sam’s Steak Shack. The diners didn’t seem to approve of Joel’s remark.
“Who said they don’t like Mountain Sunrise?”
“Dude, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Get the hell out of here!”
The other diners were clearly exaggerating, as a large amount of laughter began to fill the restaurant. Joel, however, was not the least bit amused. He now wanted to get out of the restaurant as soon as possible.
“Did you hear that, Joel?” Greg said with a grin. He pointed his thumb at the other tables. “I told you it was weird.”
Just as Sean was about to stand up to keep Joel from strangling Greg, the waitress returned to the table. She walked up to Joel.
“I’m sorry sir,” the waitress said. “We don’t have any pink lemonade at the moment. Can I get you something else?”
“Ohhhhh,” Greg and Ricky said together. They both started laughing.
Joel looked at the waitress for a moment. He took a deep breath and said: “No, nothing for me then. Thanks.”
“Are you sure?” the waitress replied.
“Yes. I’m fine.”
A confused expression appeared on the waitress’ face, but she just shrugged and said: “Okay then.” She then walked away.
Before he could hear any more negative remarks about his beverage preference, Joel stood up and began to walk away from the table.
“Where are you going?” Greg asked with a grin.
Without even looking at Greg, Joel replied: “Getting pink lemonade.” He then exited the restaurant without another word.
Michael McCormick is a graduate from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in English. He is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. He is an aspiring author, having written stories since he was a child. His prose poem “Eight Minutes”, was published in the UTRGV journal Gallery in 2016. He currently resides in Edinburg, Texas.