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rubisco
May 3rd, 2012, 06:08 AM
A Matter of Taste
By Rubisco

I groaned in annoyance as I held open the jewelry box and went down on one knee in front of
Sarah. I hoped that the kneeling motion wouldn’t add a new crease in my expensive pants. I
had already delicately rested my knee upon the pillow I had placed upon the concrete floor of the
balcony. The pillow under my knee assured that I wouldn’t soil my expensive suit (the stuck-up
cleaners were always mad at me anyway for cooking in my suits for some reason). I had already
said the words to Sarah that made me look like a weak soppy fool, and I was wondering why
Sarah hadn’t said anything yet in reply to my proposal.

“Sarah,” I had said, “you’re alright, you’re one of the few people I can stomach. Will you take
this ring and finally make me a married man?” Sarah had frozen in place and stared at me; she
was so still it seemed her short brown hair stopped blowing in the wind. She gave a terse cough
and started choking on the last piece of food she had placed in her mouth from the absolutely
divine meal I had made for her.

I was now growing impatient. I was waiting for the yes I knew was going to come, but she
was acting like I had all night. Victor Lutz did not have all night! I was Victor Lutz, and other
people waited on me! On my cooking! On my culinary genius! Sarah continued to choke on
the piece of food in her throat, coughing hard, and instead of replying to my proposal, she had
the nerve to motion to me to do the Heimlich maneuver! Wasn’t that a dance move?

I was furious! My face almost turned as blue as hers! The nerve of her not responding to me!
Why hadn’t she answered yet! I had no idea how to react or what to do, so I did what had
always come to me reflexively in such a situation.

“I am Victor Lutz!” I yelled as loud as I could. Usually whenever problems arose in public, if
I just screamed my name, people would take care of the problem and make me happy. If there
was one thing the world did not like, it was an angry Victor Lutz. I usually screamed my name
when I didn’t know what was happening in a situation. It seemed to me that I screamed my
name a lot.

Sarah stood up and dropped her abdomen on the edge of the table. A massive cough emerged
from her as a chunk of food flew across the table. I was even more furious! Nobody ever spat
out my food! My brilliant mind though told me to calm down. People had told me before that
my temper got me into bad situations.

Sarah collapsed back into her chair, gasping for air. I tried not to glare at her. I was still
kneeling and waiting for my answer. She wasn’t my first marriage proposal ever, but she was
the first that I knelt for. The same advice-giving people had told me that that might be part of
the problem why all the previous girls had said no, but what did they know? I hoped that Sarah
would realize how much I was sacrificing, of both my suit and pride, to be kneeling in front of
her.

“Sarah!” I said, almost yelling. “Are you going to answer me or not?” Sarah stared at me, her
once blue-tinged face almost turning beet red now.

“Victor,” Sarah began tersely, “we have only been dating two weeks, and I hardly know you.
Sure, you brought me to some live recordings of your cooking shows and introduced me to your
celebrity friends. But aside from inviting me to things and introducing me to people as your
girlfriend, I think this is the first time we have ever really talked.”

Sarah paused and looked to me for a reaction. My mind couldn’t believe my ears, and my mouth
couldn’t believe my mind. I, Victor Lutz, one of the top rated chefs in the world, was going to
get married! I had been saying to myself that the sixth time would be the charm, and I was right!
Things were finally looking up for me.

“Victor?” Sarah interrupted the smile on my face, “I don’t think you’re listening to me at all.
Why do you have that goofy smile on your face?”

I was about to tell her that it was because I was thinking about the grand plans I had for our
wedding when a bright light shone down on me and a loud hum filled the air. My body and face
were frozen in place, and I started to slowly rise into the night sky.

Sarah’s eyes looked into the sky above my head and her expression turned to horror, then
profound relief. As I was rising up into the night sky from my balcony, she called out to me:

“Um, Victor, I’ll be blunt with you. I don’t think a marriage will work out, with you being
abducted now and all. Thanks for the dinner, I’ll let myself out!”

My mind was stunned. She only gave me a simple thank you for the dinner. Did she know how
long it took, how expensive it was, or how famous a chef I was? As I watched her walk off, I
seriously doubted it.

It was only when I looked at one of my wall-sized mirrors in my mansion as I was rising up that
I saw the reflection of the large dark bowl-shaped aircraft above me. It was at that moment that I
realized that yet another proposal of mine was rejected, and that I should probably ask somebody
what an abduction was, because it seemed like it was probably an important thing for me to
know at that moment. Sarah would probably be a good person to ask, I thought to myself right
before I passed out.

=====

As my consciousness and vision slowly returned, I heard two voices talking next to me:

“Are you sure we picked the right guy? Look at that stupid goofy smile frozen on his face!
And look at that ridiculous puffed up black hair! His planet only gets one chance at making an
impression to the judges, you know. We are trusted to take the best the planet has to offer!” said
a smooth-sounding voice attached to a short blob (my vision had yet to completely return as well
as my ability to defend my hair, which I surely would be at this moment if I could speak).

“We have seen their broadcasts!” said a gruffer voice attached to a taller lumpy pillar (vision
slowly becoming sharper), “this guy is the best at what he does! Other members of his species
look to him when it comes to taste! I think he’s one of his world’s leaders. He certainly has
more houses and goods than many of his species!”

“If he’s a leader, than why does he not have a mate? It seems like most of his world’s leaders
have mates,” retorted the short smooth-voiced humanoid blob.

“Did our sensors not read his brainwaves that he had just found a mate?” replied the gruffer
voice.

“True,” stated the smoother voice, “but if you noticed the woman’s brainwaves, I don’t think
I’ve seen anything like it. I believe the only accurate interpretation of them is that she truly
believed that she found what we consider her anti-mate. Who is defined as the person that she
would rather let her species die to extinction before she paired with him.”

“Now, just who are you talking about?” I demanded from the table I was laying on. My eyes
focused into clarity, and the talking blobs that I noticed before morphed into two human men.
The slightly shorter one with the smooth voice was wearing an outfit that consisted of orange
and banana peels. The taller one with the gruff voice had a watermelon rind suit on. I was in a
simple white room with several porthole style windows. The two men both had a look of shock
on their faces. I sat up abruptly and my reflexes kicked in. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “I am
Victor Lutz!”

The taller gruff-voiced man rolled his eyes and went over to a console and punched in some
commands.

The shorter smooth-voiced man regained his composure, approached me, and said, “Earthling,
welcome to our intergalactic spaceship, in your language the best translation for its name is Ship
in Space. My name is Proose and this is Mark.” He mentioned to the man at the console.

Mark bent his right leg at the knee and said over his shoulder, “Hi.”

Proose leaned forward, “Bending the right leg is our species’ way of ‘waving hello’, as your
species calls it, it would be rude not to respond in kind.”

I stood up and flexed my left leg at the knee. “Hi,” I said.

Mark stormed over with an angry look on his face, “just because you’re from another planet is
the only reason I’m letting you live after that gesture!” Proose put a hand on Mark’s shoulder.
“Did you see?” said Mark angrily while pointing a finger at me.

“I saw,” said Proose, “you have every right to jettison him into the next black hole, but the
intergalactic taste contest wouldn’t be complete without him.” He led the now slightly mollified
Mark back over to the console as he mouthed the words ‘right leg’ to me with a stressed
expression.

“Sorry about that,” said Proose as he walked back over to me, his orange and banana peel outfit
wafting different scents into the air. “I imagine you must have many questions.”

Questions? I thought to myself. Questions were for people who did not have confidence! Sure,
I had no clue where I was, who these men were, or what this ‘intergalactic taste contest’ was,
but I sure wasn’t going to let these men know that! I was Victor Lutz! Victor Lutz had enough
confidence to handle anything!

“No,” I replied, “I do not have any questions.” Proose raised an eyebrow.

“None?” he said with a hint of disbelief (which I took offense to). “So you know where we’re
taking you then?”

“Yes,” I replied. Proose’s green eyes’ bulged in shock, and he coughed as he choked on his own
spit.

“You can’t possibly know where we’re taking you!” he exclaimed after his coughing fit. “Our
species has been monitoring your earthbound species for centuries for the right moment to take
one of you to the contest, and your reputation on your broadcasts about tasting is the first that
seemed great enough to be acceptable! You are the first Earthling we have ever encountered
face-to-face, the first that we ever have made contact with, and you are telling me that you know
where we are going and know EXACTLY what’s going on?”

I stood there with the same firm resolve I had held in the past when I argued with Bobby Flay
that a tomato is not a fruit, but, in fact, a grain. “Yes,” I replied.

“Well!” declared Proose angrily, throwing up his hands. “What are we wasting time for then?
Stupid me! Off to the contest you go!” He motioned to Mark, and Mark pressed an ominous
looking blue-colored button. My body froze in position for the second time that day, and I felt
my consciousness fading. Intergalactic taste contest? I thought to myself as my vision darkened.
I was the best chef in the universe; this contest was as good as Victor Lutz’s. Earth had nothing
to worry about its reputation.

=====

For the second time that day, my body slowly regained consciousness along with my vision.
This time around as I was waking up, I heard a booming voice coming over a speaker system:

“Ladies and Gentlemen! Species of all kinds! Welcome to the 532nd intergalactic taste contest!
Today we have a special event! Our two contestants are from the planet Earth! As you all
know, there has always been scientific and religious arguments about the presence of Earth,
our fraternal twin planet. We hope that today’s contest will open the doors of relationship,
exploration, and communication with Earth. With those doors open, trade and prosperity will
surely follow! Of course, we might have to help Earth discover the perpetual motion power
plant, and hopefully from there it won’t take them a millennium to figure out faster-than-light-
speed travel!” A very large conglomerate of blobs (which I guessed was the audience) laughed
at this point. The voice continued.

“Yes, yes, our backward cousins will benefit from our technology much more than we will
benefit from them, but we trust in this contest, as it has never failed us in the past as to whether
a species was ready to interact with our planet. It has kept our planet at peace from other planets
as long as we can remember. Both contestants have already been briefed on the rules of the
contest, and they should both be waking from their teleportation now. After this word from our
sponsors, we will begin the 532nd intergalactic taste contest!”

My vision sharpened, and I saw that I was indeed in front of an audience in an amphitheater style
building. I was on a large stage with several rows of tables with nothing on them. On the other
side of the stage was a cow. The cow was swinging its tail and chewing cud. A large banner
with strange symbols hung over the stage. There was a table in front of the stage with two men
and one woman. All three were wearing the same kind of fruit-peel clothing that I had seen on
Proose and Mark. Behind them sat a massive audience of around twenty thousand people.

There were also several men with silver spheres mounted on their shoulders along the border of
the stage, many of them moving around like they were trying to get the best angle for a camera
shot. I decided to give them a cooking show they would never forget.

The voice boomed once again overhead. “Now Ladies and Gentlemen, the 532nd intergalactic
taste contest begins! Contestants from Earth welcome! If either of you have any questions about
the contest, please come forth with them now!”

My mind halted for a second, as I had not seen any food out on the tables or stage besides the
cow. But I reassured myself that they were holding the food back until the last minute to prevent
any unfair advantage of seeing the ingredients early. I also wasn’t entirely sure where this other
Earth contestant was that the announcer mentioned. I realized that he must be on another stage
out of sight. Probably another way to ensure a fair competition, I thought. My glorious genius
mind had answered all of my questions by itself! This other contestant didn’t stand a chance.

“I have no questions,” I called out. The cow made a loud moo.

“Very well then,” said the announcer, “let the contest begin!”

I stood on the stage waiting for people to bring out carts full of food. Nothing happened. The
three people who sat behind the table in front of the stage looked at me expectantly. I made
some gestures to indicate I was waiting. The cow sauntered its way across the stage. I hoped it
wouldn’t run off. If nothing else came out, I would be forced to make a beef tartare with it. The
stakes were high after all. I only had one chance to go down in the history books as the man who
made contact with an advanced species who were willing to share their technology! I thought
to myself if that happened, my seventh proposal to a woman probably will not somehow end in
rejection.

So I stood there waiting. The cow continued to walk around the stage, up to what I presumed
was the judges’ table, and it even went among the audience, mooing all the time. The judges
petted the cow as it came by, all the while watching me in silence.

I started to get uncomfortable. This was not how it was supposed to go! All of the cooking
contests I had been on before had food out to use, ovens and stoves available, and assistants that
knew what they were doing to help out. Victor Lutz was not going to lose this contest and this
chance for immortal fame over some shoddy supplied space contest! So I did what I usually did
in these kinds of situations.

“I am Victor Lutz!” I yelled as loud as I could. The audience almost jumped a foot in the air
from their seats in shock of my outburst. I could hear them whisper to each other. “I need
food!” I continued. The judges and the audience looked at me in what appeared to be shock.
They continued to sit in their seats murmuring among themselves. “FOOD!” I screamed, when
it was apparent there was still no food on the stage and that no one was on their way to get some.

A man walked out from the audience with something in his hand. “I’m sorry,” said the
man, “this is all I have.” He handed me what looked like a grilled cheese sandwich with purple
cheese.

“Are you kidding me?” I yelled in his face. “I am Victor Lutz! The best chef in the universe!
And you hand me some space cheese sandwich? This is disgusting!” I threw the sandwich on
the stage and ground it into the floor with my shoe. The man slinked back off into the massive
silent audience, all of whom were just staring at me.

“Come on!” I yelled, waving my arms furiously, “I need food! Food I can actually cook with!
And fire! Give me some material to cook with here!” The judges talked among themselves and
made some motions with their hands. Within a few minutes some carts with some ingredients
came rolling out onto the stage. I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t have to serve the cow by
itself after all. The cow at this point was eating the smashed sandwich on the floor. I started to
sort through the ingredients that they had, which was mostly vegetables, fruits, and spices.

Within ten minutes, I had a plan, and it appeared that the judges were able to get me what looked
like a camping stove. So I had food, fire, and an audience. It was in this kind of environment
that Victor Lutz shone.

“Where the heck is my assistant?” I yelled furiously. My plan to make seared beef ribs with a
sautéed vegetable medley and homemade barbeque sauce was not going to happen if I had to do
it all by myself! I stared out at the judges with the best demanding look I could muster.

The judges were not looking at me. They instead were looking at the cow, which was letting
children take turns riding on its back. I fumed. I bet the other Earth contestant did not have to
put up with such rudeness. I imagined him over on the other stage with a full stocked kitchen,
several assistants, and sipping bourbon as I usually did on these kinds of cooking competitions.
Not like me, who was putting up with all these inhospitable jerks who occupied this room!

I had about enough. I grabbed a knife that the judges had managed to scrounge up for me and
stormed over to the cow. I needed to butcher it at some point for the ribs anyhow. I pushed a kid
off the top of the cow and led the cow to the center of the stage.

“I can’t believe why anybody would want to be allowed to associate with your planet!” I yelled
as I sliced the throat of the cow. The crowd gasped and a heavy murmuring started among the
crowd. “You guys invite a master chef, like myself, to your planet for a cooking contest, and
then don’t give him any tools to work with! Talk about civilized!” The crowd continued to stare
at me in horror as I butchered the cow for its ribs. The staring was driving me nuts.

“WHAT NOW?” I yelled. “Do you guys not eat meat or something? I am Victor Lutz!”

One of the male judges stood up from behind the table and with a calm fury said, “Of course
we eat meat. What we usually don’t do, if we’re in a peaceful competition, is murder the other
contestant. She was even from your own planet, for God’s sake!”

I took a step back and looked at the bloody cow carcass on the floor. The other contestant?
“Cows can’t cook!” I muttered to myself.

“I am Victor Lutz!” I yelled as loud as I could.

“Yes, yes, I think we all know that,” said the male judge who was standing. He glanced at the
other judges, they all nodded their heads. “I think we are all in agreement. Earth will forever
be barred from association with us. The cow almost won us over despite your best efforts to the
contrary, but . . . but . . . YOU!” He shook in contained fury. “You acted like you were here to
cook! You were here to show us that your species had good taste! Good manners! We would
have accepted the kind gesture of a meal from you if you presented it with some tact! But of
course, you knew what you were doing the whole time though, right?” He raised an eyebrow, “if
for some reason there was some lack of communication, something lost in translation, we
might show some mercy on our judgment.” He leaned forward on the table and stared into my
eyes. “So tell us all right now, did you or did you not know what was going on here, what was
expected of you?”

I stared back angrily with equal force. I always knew what I was doing! Always! I was the
man who knew everything here. “I knew exactly what I was doing the whole time,” I said
confidently. The audience gasped. The male judge continued to stare at me in disbelief and
shake his head.

“Then I absolutely have no guilt about my judgment,” replied the judge. “We will send you back
to your . . . your . . . planet, which instead of being our fraternal twin planet must be our evil
twin planet. I hope you understand we must erase your memory of this.” The judge held his
head in his hands. “God only knows I wish I could have mine erased of this as well.” He made
a motion with his hand. “Centuries of waiting for this day, such a disappointment,” he muttered
sorrowfully.

I took a step back. I couldn’t believe it! I, Victor Lutz, the best chef in the universe, was
victorious again! I would forever be remembered in the history books as the man who brought
advanced technology to Earth, who opened relations with an alien race, who cooked his way into
immortality! My face beamed with pride.

My body froze again for the third time that day as a loud hum filled the air. It was right before I
lost consciousness that I realized that I had failed the intergalactic taste contest. Who were they
kidding? I thought as my vision darkened. I was Victor Lutz! If anybody knew good taste, it
was Victor Lutz.

The End

Serenade
May 7th, 2012, 08:03 PM
Haha...I won't lie, I didn't like it in the first few paragraphs, but as I read and realized it was parody/humor (sometimes I slow like that), I found myself laughing at the ridiculous character of Victor and the reactions the aliens and even hiw own would-be wife had to him. An entertaining, concise read, for sure.

WiredNun
May 9th, 2012, 07:22 PM
OMG too funny. It was great.

I stood there with the same firm resolve I had held in the past when I argued with Bobby Flay
that a tomato is not a fruit, but, in fact, a grain. “Yes,” I replied. ahahahahhahahahahahah

Just need some polish. Par example:

"Alright" is slang. Need to minimize the use of slang. Correct usage is "all right."

Try to avoid using parenthesis in fiction. There's no need. Just set off the parenthetical observation in a new sentence.


I'm still laughing.

TBK
May 9th, 2012, 08:53 PM
I have criticisms I could offer, but I critiqued myself out, today.

I'll come back through, when I'm not so tired, and type something up.

RoosterSmith
May 9th, 2012, 09:49 PM
Awesome story man. That was really cool. I'll be tweeting this out. Who doesn't wanna read a story about a self involved chef without a heart of gold?

Loved the way he couldn't possibly realize he was being a dick...

TBK
May 10th, 2012, 06:37 PM
I love this concept, but I had to work my way through the story. I, as your reader, shouldn't have to force myself to pay attention. You should grab my attention and shake me every time my attention starts wandering. Luckily, I did force myself through the first few paragraphs, and found myself laughing, therefore unable to stop reading. Editing out some extra words would make this--for me--more readable.

Example:


I groaned in annoyance as I held open the jewelry box and went down on one knee in front of
Sarah. I hoped that the kneeling motion wouldn’t add a new crease in my expensive pants. I
had already delicately rested my knee upon the pillow I had placed upon the concrete floor of the
balcony balcony's concrete floor. The pillow under my knee assured that I wouldn’t soil my expensive suit (the stuck-up
cleaners were always mad at me anyway for cooking in my suits, for some reason). I had already
said the words to Sarah that made me look like a weak, soppy fool, and I was wondering why
Sarah hadn’t said anything, yet, in reply to my proposal.

'...That the...' and '...motion...' are all unneeded. 'Kneeling' is a perfectly strong verb. It can, and should, stand on its own. A verb is a motion, so you don't have to reiterate.

'Concrete floor of the balcony,' is wordy and indirect. 'Balcony's concrete floor,' removes words and clarifies the image.

'...In reply to my proposal.' If the last thing he did, before kneeling, was propose, then we assume the next thing she says will be in reply to it. That makes this phrase unneeded due to redundancy.


Revision:


I groaned in annoynce as I held open the jewelry box and went down on one knee in front of Sarah. I hoped kneeling wouldn't add a new crease in my expensive pants. I had already delicately rested my knee upon the pillow I had placed upon the balcony's concrete floor. The pillow under my knee assured I wouldn't soil my expensive suit (the stuck-up cleaners were always mad at me for cooking in my suits, for some reason). I already said the words to Sarah that made me look like a weak, soppy fool, and I was wondering why Sarah hadn't said anything, yet.




In another few examples, I'd like to highlight redundancy. I'll use parts from your opening paragraph:


I groaned in annoyance as I held open the jewelry box and went down on one knee in front of
Sarah. I hoped that the kneeling motion wouldn’t add a new crease in my expensive pants. I
had already delicately rested my knee upon the pillow I had placed upon the concrete floor of the
balcony.

I'd wager he's kneeling! You could combine these sentences in a way that disposes of redundancy, and cuts a clear picture of the character.



I hoped that the kneeling motion wouldn’t add a new crease in my expensive pants. I
had already delicately rested my knee upon the pillow I had placed upon the concrete floor of the
balcony. The pillow under my knee assured that I wouldn’t soil my expensive suit (the stuck-up
cleaners were always mad at me anyway for cooking in my suits for some reason).

And, again, I'd wager his suit is expensive! I'd also wager he's wearing a suit! You could combine and cut inside these sentences to offer us a concise, clear picture of the character.



Your opening paragraph is your most important. In fact, your opening sentences make or break a reader's interest. If I have to weave my way through during the first five seconds, it tells me I'll have to weave my way through the entire story. Cut me a clear path!

You're an excellent writer. I really enjoyed your plot, your character, and your dazzling sense of humor, but I'm a lazy tourist in your mind. I don't know the roads like you do. Help me navigate them with as little trouble possible!

rubisco
May 11th, 2012, 03:24 PM
I love this concept, but I had to work my way through the story. I, as your reader, shouldn't have to force myself to pay attention. You should grab my attention and shake me every time my attention starts wandering. Luckily, I did force myself through the first few paragraphs, and found myself laughing, therefore unable to stop reading. Editing out some extra words would make this--for me--more readable.

Example:



'...That the...' and '...motion...' are all unneeded. 'Kneeling' is a perfectly strong verb. It can, and should, stand on its own. A verb is a motion, so you don't have to reiterate.

'Concrete floor of the balcony,' is wordy and indirect. 'Balcony's concrete floor,' removes words and clarifies the image.

'...In reply to my proposal.' If the last thing he did, before kneeling, was propose, then we assume the next thing she says will be in reply to it. That makes this phrase unneeded due to redundancy.


Revision:






In another few examples, I'd like to highlight redundancy. I'll use parts from your opening paragraph:



I'd wager he's kneeling! You could combine these sentences in a way that disposes of redundancy, and cuts a clear picture of the character.




And, again, I'd wager his suit is expensive! I'd also wager he's wearing a suit! You could combine and cut inside these sentences to offer us a concise, clear picture of the character.



Your opening paragraph is your most important. In fact, your opening sentences make or break a reader's interest. If I have to weave my way through during the first five seconds, it tells me I'll have to weave my way through the entire story. Cut me a clear path!

You're an excellent writer. I really enjoyed your plot, your character, and your dazzling sense of humor, but I'm a lazy tourist in your mind. I don't know the roads like you do. Help me navigate them with as little trouble possible!

Thanks for the input. I've also felt the first couple paragraphs were clumsy, there was simply a lot I wanted to cram in the sentences to set the scene without boring the reader too much. I will definitely use your suggestions in any future rewrites!