Early Bird Special

Lisa Haneberg

Old folks lined up ready to storm the all-you-can-eat buffet for the 4:30 p.m. early bird special. Only the first seating was guaranteed their fill of foot-long pan-fried frog legs before the day’s ration ran out. Not literally…the frogs, long dead and unable to run or hop, were delivered flash frozen from Detroit frog farmers to Florida food halls. Ranchers seems better, as in goat or emu ranchers, but frog farmers or froggers is what they were called. This was when frog legs were a bigger deal and worthy of rearranging one’s social calendar to consume. Like today, when fast food chains launch a god-damned new chicken sandwich. This one, with its slightly different sauce and pickle slices, or that sandwich with grilled instead of chopped onions, for early-adopters eager to snap social media selfies with their boring lunch. Seniors holding buckets of frog legs would make great selfies if froggers ever mount a market resurgence.

My hostess job at the Anchor Inn wasn’t all about the fogies and frog legs; there were jackasses there, too. I remember the off the shoulder chocolate brown polyester hostess dress I wore to work. Pulled low so I’d look like a pirate’s escort, the pirate being the perverted general manager, Stan. He enjoyed watching my budding, untethered breasts jiggle in every direction as I sat septuagenarians more aroused by the smell of golden-brown frog legs. Stan was a smallish man who stuck his tongue out at young ladies he couldn’t wait to hire and watch bounce and sway through the dining room during the early bird rush. This was before strapless bras were among the things teenagers knew anything about and some years after farmed frog legs peaked in popularity.

Stan, man, you were a sad pirate, past your prime still looking for life’s prize. Eager for treasure you’d never hold and willing to pay handsomely for the tease of it. More skin and shakes, please, in exchange for days off, pay raises, and free reign to blare the cocktail bar jukebox before letting the frog-hungry line in to eat. Hit Me with Your Best Shot was my anthem for navigating bad-mannered managers and pickled penny-pinchers.  Frog legs and flesh on display at the early bird special.