This is a classic blog posting from a while back, before I
had my blog here with the folks at Word Press. I’m going
to re-run it here, as it’s a fave of mine:
Now about that squirrel and “the spiritual experience”!
I had just dropped off a fare in my taxi and i decided to stop in at
a fast food place in Altamonte Springs for a quick bite. If you do
know the territory, Backyard Burgers is a better-than average
burger drive-through in an Old Checkers location. It’s quite popular
with the locals.
It’s pretty popular with some furry critters up there too! I got
my “Black and Bleu” burger, an extremely yummy burger featuring
black angus beef and bleu cheese, and proceeded to make short work
of it. It truly was as good a burger as this dog had ever put into
Just as I was about to toss the last morsel down, this very tame
squirrel began to make her way over to the patio table where I was
enjoying this late lunch. (At Backyard Burgers, there is no indoor
As she got a little closer, I became transfixed at the sight of her
approach and could not eat that last bit until I knew what she was
up to. In pretty short order she hopped right up on the bench next
to me and reared up on her hind legs. By now she was only about six
inches from me–from me and the last few crumbs of what had been the
best lunch I’d had in quite a while…
As I extended my hand in her direction, she actually put her little
claws right on my first finger and clasped my hand very gently
with a measured and seemingly purposeful pressure. I was quite
surprised to say the least. What I had expected her to do was to
reach for the bite o’ burger and scamper away like a bandit.
For a moment or two she just stayed there clasping my hand and
looking me right in the eye. Then, with consummate timing, she took
the morsel in her mouth and ate it in two or three bites all while
maintaining her eye contact with me, her very flabbergasted
Then she turned away, paused for just a moment and scampered
away towards a towering oak on the edge of the patio.
I suppose it’s a routine she’s quite comfortable with. I have not
been back to Backyard Burgers since but I’m thinking that she
probably has a regular stable of folks who share the last bite of
their lunches with her. I’ve even wanted to get back up there to see
if she’s still around, looking for humans who want to share their
grub with her, but I don’t get that far away from downtown
Orlando in my cab very often.
As I cruised back towards my preferred territory a little closer to
home, I could not get the image of her pausing with her paws on my
hand out of my mind… She seemed to be saying, “Thanks for sharing
your lunch with me! I hope you’ll come back and see me again” or
some such thing in her non-verbal squirrel language which humans may
be graced to understand just once in a while…
The memory of my shared lunch with my furry mistress comes back to
me often; especially when I’m passing any burger joint or when I see
squirrels scampering up and down our majestic oaks and through our
many parks. I would surely love to have a “Black and Bleu” burger
again. And you know I’d save the last bite for my new lunch
Bulldog Ben, respecting all of my
furry friends today just a bit more…
I just learned that the Keke’s we had been teased about has finally opened up. I now no longer have to trek to the Dr. Phillips area to have their amazing chow. Not that it’s all that far, not for the Mac-Daddy of all breakfast joints.
Here’s my review of that other location; it’s quite possible that I’ve patronized them for the last time. I’ll be stopping in at the one around the corner within the week.
KeKe’s is a chain of breakfast restaurants, there are several in Central Florida. As I’ve always loved breakfast-only joints. I stopped at the KeKe’s in the Dr. Phillips district of Orlando a few Saturdays ago. It was a breakfast I won’t soon forget.
Before I get into the meat of the review, so to speak, let me warn you that if you visit the KeKe’s in your neck of the woods, you’re almost certain to wait for a while. And although I really hate to wait, it’s a truism that the better a restaurant is, the more likely you are to be sitting for a while holding one of those annoying, vibrating beeper devices. I opted to wait.
My standard breakfast order is two eggs over-easy, sausage patties and home fries. I went that route with my server and discovered that their home fries come about a dozen different ways. I had her load mine with just about everything, in much the same way we often do with a baked potato.
When my order arrived, I was amazed at the serving of taters, onions, bacon and cheddar cheese that took up about half my plate. It was a ridiculous serving of jacked-up Home-Fries and I ate every bite. If my Doctor had seen the size of that portion she would have had me shot at sunrise; a mere scolding and more lab work would not have been sufficient. As far as that other breakfast essential is concerned, my over-easy eggs were perfect, without those despised “crispy” edges. To me, crispy is just plain burnt. There was simply nothing to not like about my order.
There were many families and couples at Keke’s. I may well have been the only patron “flying solo” on that bright Saturday morning, so I know they’ll accommodate your bunch, regardless of sizes, ages or how many come along.
Let me sum it up: Find a Keke’s near you. Bring your appetite, bring your kids and be prepared to wait. And tell your cardiologist that you ordered the oatmeal.
I had noticed Achilles one Saturday afternoon while heading back to the dog house. It’s not too far from the part of Orlando I call home. I was surprised to see that it was not open. I inquired later and found out that A.A.C. is open until 10 pm Monday-Friday, but doesn’t open on the weekends except for the last Saturday of the month. Well, today is the last Saturday of March. I got to see what Achilles is all about, and I’m glad I did.
My latte was good, served very hot and the crew was efficient and personable. When it was obvious that the weather-folk were on-target for this weekend and that the rain was, in fact, about to start, I had to try the Grilled Cheese and Tomato-Basil Soup. It was a yummy pairing and affirmed for me once again that Mom was right: you can’t beat a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup when the rain begins to fall. They render it here with a three-cheese medley on sourdough bread. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and, yes, I dunk when I have the uncommon pleasure to pair these two American lunch-time staples.
The decor at Achilles is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s got to be experienced first-hand to be appreciated. If you live or work anywhere on Orlando’s west side, I recommend you stop in soon. They do serve beer and wine in addition to the usual coffee house fare and have quite an assortment of sweets. Those I left for another day.
Their location is right on the edge of the campus of Valencia College; I’m thinking that’s the reason they’re mostly open on “school days”. I’m planning to stop in again soon after dinner for a night cap or catch them again on the last Saturday in May.
From the miscellaneous category: they do have two TV screens, an outdoor/patio seating area (where smoking is allowed), cigars and hookah supplies. It’s mostly a young-ish crowd though I did see one family with a toddler. He seemed to be enjoying the place, too!
I’ve been paying close attention to elections since Nixon vs McGovern in ’72 and although I’ll admit to not voting in that one, I haven’t missed one since. I was a freshman in college out of my home state and waited too late to get an absentee ballot and mail it in. But that was the first and only time I didn’t make it to the polls.
There have been some important and memorable contests in the 43 years and ten elections which have come and gone since then. I was in Navy AOCS in Pensacola back in ’76 when Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford squared off. Voted for Mr. Ford in that one. Both had solid careers in the Navy, but I’m thinking that few in my class went with Mr. Carter.
Being the flaming, tree-hugging liberal that I am today, I hate to admit this, but I did volunteer work in both Reagan campaigns and voted for him. Twice. Loved pretty much everyone on King Ronnie’s team back then, Col. Oliver North especially. Suffice to say that I saw the world very, very differently back then.
The 1980 contest was not noteworthy only because Reagan won; it saw John B. Anderson run the first third-party candidacy the American people has seen since George Wallace that had to be taken seriously. Well, semi-seriously. Okay, I noticed it, because he appeared in Tulsa, where I was living at the time, and I happened to catch it. Didn’t change my vote, but he made an impression.
By the time Reagan’s second term was winding down, my views on politics had changed considerably. I did not vote for “George Bush the Elder” in 1988, though I generally respected him. Of course, Dan Quayle was pretty hard to take. Yes, before Sarah Palin was let loose on the world, there was V.P. Dan Quayle! Boy, that was quite a spectacle back then, wasn’t it? Some of the drama we’ve seen in recent elections is not so different. But I digress.
If you’ve gotten this far into this piece, I will not bore you with my recollections of all the other elections that have taken place in the last quarter-century. But I will say that 2000 was a big one, of course, and that I still carry in my heart a white-hot hatred for both Ralph Nader and Antonin Scalia for the roles they played in making George W. Bush our 43rd President. Pundits and politically-savvy people went on and on about how Nader’s candidacy would suck votes away from Gore and it did. Some maintain to this day that Gore’s shortcomings are the real reason he lost, but I look at the 97,488 votes Nader got in the Sunshine State and cry “bullshit!” And, as we all remember, Bush carried Florida by 537 votes. For a good treatment of that debacle click here.
As for the role played by Mr. Scalia and the four other justices who joined in his twisted, partisan logic in Bush v. Gore, that would be fodder for another post. On another day. Wait, let me get an Advil. Or three.
True to my word, I am not going to go into the four intervening contests in this post, so let’s bring back the focus to 2016. A whole lot of people who pay attention to Presidential elections are beginning to say that this year’s contest is starting to look a bit like 2000. I am one of those people. Even though we’re still not “there” yet as far as having two official nominees, it’s going to be Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I’d bet that somewhere around 92% of the political prognosticators would say so. And I’ll be damned if the candidacy of Bernie Sanders isn’t starting to loom Nader-esque on the American landscape. I think there’s a damn good chance that Bernie could do to Hillary what Ralph did to Al. I hope to God I’m wrong about that. But it’s a possibility that can’t be easily dismissed. May the soul of Yogi Berra rest peacefully; I damn sure hope it ain’t “deja vu” all over again!
Barking from my semi-palatial doghouse in Orlando, I am,
“Bulldog Ben” Basile
© 2016 Benjamin Lawrence Basile
Ben is not the owner of this photo. Contact him if you are.