I love it when people say “pop” instead of “soda.” I start laughing so hard. “Hahaha!” I’ll interrupt whoever happens to be talking, “You said pop!” and I’ll just totally take over the conversation, which is a bad habit, I’m not trying to brag here or anything, but it’s like I can’t help it. Someone says “pop” and that’s it, game over, you might as well leave, because that’s all I’m going to talk about until we part ways. And even then, the next time we run into each other, even if it’s like months later, there’s a pretty good chance I’m going to bring it up right away, the last time we were together, “Remember when you said ‘pop’?” And I’ll just laugh and laugh.
Which, again, it’s not cool, I’m being a huge dick, I get it. But I can’t stop it. I tried really hard to keep it in last time I was up in Buffalo. I was really hungry and I went to a diner, and I just sat there and prayed, I said, God, please make it so the waitress doesn’t say pop. But that was my first mistake, because just that thought process alone got me going. I imagined God in my head listening to my prayers, and in my imagination, he started laughing, he was like, “Ha, my child, you said ‘pop.’” And so I already felt it bubbling up from inside, the giggles.
When the waitress came over, I asked for a Coke, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of this beforehand, but I really should have just had iced tea or water, something, anything besides soda. But like I said, that idea hadn’t occurred to me at the time, I just said it, “I’ll have a Coke, please,” and then I held my breath, hoping that the waitress wouldn’t say anything to get me going.
She just said, “You got it,” and so I let out a sigh of relief. But when she came back with my drink, she caught me by surprise, I mean, at my restaurant, we have a rule that you’re not supposed to announce whatever it is that you’re serving. Does that make sense? Like, if you order a hamburger, a lot of people’s natural reaction when serving food is to narrate it, like, “Here’s your hamburger,” as it’s getting placed in front of you. Obviously it’s a hamburger.
But yeah, just because that’s how they do it in my restaurant doesn’t mean that that’s how they do it everywhere, and I should have been ready for it, I should have had my hands over my ears, so I could have at least tried to muffle out the sound of her putting that Coke in front of my face, saying, “Here’s your pop.” Because that’s how it went down, and I just totally lost it.
I tried to hold it in, I really did, but this only made it worse, because my efforts in restraining the laughter only succeeded for about half a second, and the noise that I made as the “haha” escaped from my throat, that’s exactly what it sounded like, like an escape, like I was holding it back, but it just, bam, it just knocked over completely the flimsy walls that I had hastily erected in a pathetic attempt at not letting that laugh out.
“Is everything OK?” she asked me, and come on, everything was fine, I was the one that had the problem here. I wish I could have just made it out to be like something was wrong with me, because really, there actually was something wrong with me. I had this uncontrollable urge to laugh at something that, definitely in Buffalo anyway, isn’t funny at all.
“Yes, everything’s …” and again, I couldn’t really think of anything to say. Now I can look back and say to myself, Rob, you should have said that you were laughing about a joke that your friend made last week, or you could have turned it into a cough or something, but none of that seemed natural in the moment, I was clearly laughing, and I just said, “I’m really sorry, it’s just that, you know, you said ‘pop,’ and you know …”
“Yeah, that’s what we call it up here, pop.” And she stormed away, clearly insulted. Worse, I was still laughing. I couldn’t stop it. As I was trying to explain myself, I kept getting my words caught up over my laughter, still beating me in my efforts to, if not contain it totally, to at least reign it in somewhat. But no, I was practically spitting on her.
Because come on, “pop,” that’s crazy, right? I’m sorry, people from upstate, the Great Lakes, Canada, I hope you don’t think I’m too much of an asshole. But that’s just so funny. It’s like that one time I went to Philadelphia and they called my hero a “hoagie.” That deli guy actually kicked me out of his store. I thought he was going to chase me out, try to punch me in the face or something.