A perky hostess seats the group and a large, U-shaped booth at an Applebees in suburban DC.
Shannon: Guys, it is so great to finally meet you!
Tom nervously glances around at his surroundings as if he’s never been in a chain restaurant.
Tom: (unenthusiastically) Yeah, great to be here.
Everyone else smiles and nods
Matt: Megan, I appreciate that you came dressed in your Loki outfit.
Megan: Yeah, I figured you guys would want to see it in person.
Rick: (interrupting) Are those bugs in your beard?
Matt: (laughing) I knew you would ask about that. You can call them bugs, but I consider them friends. We live in a symbiotic relationship.
Rick: Symbiotic, huh? What you get out of it?
Matt: I told you. Friendship.
The waitress arrives
Megan: Let’s change the subject. Let’s order.
Waitress: (looking at Matt) Oh my gosh, are you from that show?
Matt: What show?
Waitress: You know…down in Louisiana.
Rick: Duck Dynasy! That’s it! That’s who you look like!
Matt: I do not!
Shannon: Let’s try to focus here, guys.
Tom: This (draws out the Italian pronunciation) broo-ske-ta? Is it made from locally pressed olives?
Steven: Bruschetta (pronouncing it the way every American pronounces it), dude. I’m Italian and even I say bruschetta.
Waitress: Um, I don’t think there are olives in it.
Tom: The olive oil, woman, the olive oil. Was it sourced locally or has it been shipped across an ocean only to sit in a warehouse for who-knows-how-long?
Shannon: We may need a minute
The waitress walks away
Tom: (closes his menu) I can’t order anything here. You realize how much better I can cook food? They probably don’t even churn their own butter.
Rick stifles a giggle. Tom shoots him a searing glance.
Matt: And I’ll bet they don’t even have lactation cookies on the menu. Hey-ooooo.
Rick: Let’s get a round of drinks.
Tom: But they don’t even have my brands here. I’m not drinking (dripping with scorn) Jack Daniels.
Shannon: I don’t care what I get as long as it is strong and it gets here quickly.
Matt: Tom, you could order a beer.
Tom: Beer has carbs.
Megan: Let’s do shots, wooooooooo!
Everyone stops and stares. I mean everyone in the restaurant.
Matt: (slowly) I though you said you weren’t a woo girl.
Megan: Well, I lied. Wooooooooooooooo, bitches!!!!
Matt opens his laptop
Matt: Let’s see if we can connect with some others in the SSEU.
Tom puts his arm on the table and slides everything off including the signs with the happy hour specials, the ketchup bottle, and Matt’s computer. He opens a giant gameboard on the newly cleared table.
Tom: Okay, here are the rules of this game. During round one we each start out as a level one ice frogel. Your character cards are in front of you (dealing out cards). Between rounds I we will roll this die to determine which brand of mattress we sleep on. Here is a laminated chart with the qualities of each mattress from allowing discretion to fluid, stain cleanup….