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“Oh,” I said to the waitress when it came time to order, “I walked right past that chalkboard outside without looking. Any chance you have those specials memorized?”

“No,” she said, flipping open her order pad, “but I do have them written right here.”

I was seated at Callahan’s on Main with Brandon Jopling, grandson of my late high school buddy John “Mack” McNulty. With his college graduation right around the corner, Brandon and I got together over lunch to talk about possible careers in writing.

But first we needed to order.

It was Brandon’s first time at Callahan’s so I assured him he couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu. “Mike Callahan knows how to cook,” I said. It was not the first time I’ve told someone that.

There was an interesting wrap on special and an even more interesting salad, but when the waitress mentioned the “meatball fries,” well we both were intrigued, or at least I was.

“What on earth are meatball fries?” I asked. “Are they actually made of meatballs?”

“No,” she said with a giggle, “they are regular waffle fries but then he (meaning Chef Callahan) puts meatballs all over them. They’re really good.”

I could tell Brandon was sold so I said maybe we could get an order to share. But the girl said a serving was big enough to be a lunch in itself, so we thought what the heck, and each ordered it. This is going to be memorable, I thought.

Little did I know.

A friend came in and asked what looked good and I couldn’t help telling her about the meatball fries.

“What did you just say?” the waitress asked.

“I’m talking up the meatball fries,” I said.

“Meatball?” she said, trying not to laugh. “Not meatball. Maple. Maple fries. He puts maple syrup on them.”

I looked at Brandon who only shrugged. “I heard meatball, Brandon. Did you hear meatball?”

“Actually,” he said, “I heard maple.”

And you know what I heard in that very moment? I heard my daughter.

“Dad,” she said somewhat sheepishly as we gave her little boy a bath recently, “I read somewhere that people your age often make an appointment to get their hearing checked.”

“Greta,” I responded, “are you trying to tell me you think I’m getting hard of hearing.”

“Well …,” she answered.

I wanted to say, “The volume on your TV is so low only a dog could hear it,” but then I thought maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s me.

And, come to think of it, maybe it was me and not the student with the Ukranian accent at the college a couple of years ago responsible for a bout of misperception. It was in an advertising class. The assignment was to try to re-position a product the way orange juice once tried with the campaign “It’s not just for breakfast any more.”

The young lady said she was going to re-position Roman numerals. Good idea, I said. Her slogan could be: “Make the Super Bowl’s numbers your numbers.” Then I looked at her computer screen. And saw a picture of Ramen Noodles.

Later she said she changed her mind. She was going to re-position chop sticks. Again, good idea, I said. Chop sticks can be used for a lot of things. Then I looked at her computer screen. And saw a picture of Chapstick.

Right now I’m thinking about the time we all took our Uncle Eddie to Cooper’s Seafood Restaurant for free lobster on his 80th birthday. When the server asked him if he wanted two tails or three, he responded, “Do you have mashed.”

That’s not quite as funny now as it was then.

Neither is a joke the late Uncle Eddie liked to tell.

An old fella announces to his buddy he just got a new hearing aid.

“What kind it is?” his friend asks. The guy looks at his watch and says, “About 2:30.”

“And what day is it?” the friend asks.“Thursday,” the guy says.

“I’m thirsty too,” the friend responds. “Let’s go get a beer.”

You know, I could go for a beer myself right now. With a nice order of meatball fries.

Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at