* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always interested in whether you enjoyed your dining experience. Er, make that your diner experience.

Dan’s Diner Survey

By: Luke Strickler

When was the last time you dined with us?

Today: 7pm – closing

Who was your waiter/waitress?

See, that’s why I’m here. I think her name is Ashley, but her nametag was covered by a piece of flair that said “Burgers 4 Life.” Anyway, do you think you could give her my number?

How many people were in your party?

Just one. I’ve been coming here for a while, trying to work up the courage to talk to…Anna? Maybe it’s Amy. I just call her Angel Face.

How was the quality of your meal?

See, that’s another thing. I didn’t really order any food. I was just trying to sit in Angel Face’s area and work on my opening line. Tell me if this is good: “Are you on this menu? Because I love you.”

What was your total for the night?

$50. I wasn’t aware that your unlimited refill policy doesn’t apply if “you just keep ordering cokes and staring at the staff.” You should really put that on the menu somewhere, along with the “No taking pictures” rule.

How much did you tip your waiter/waitress?

$75 and a poem I wrote about her: “Roses are red/ Violets are blue/ You are a waitress/ Please love me back.”

Would you recommend our restaurant to your friends and family?

I’d bring them in to meet Angel Face. I’d want her to feel like a welcome part of the family and I’m sure my mom and her have a lot in common, seeing as they both bring me my dinner.

How was the quality of service you received?

Like…good, but not “she’s definitely into me” type of good. I mean, I’ve been coming here during her shift for weeks, so she’s must know who I am. I just can’t tell if she’s into me, or if she’s just good at her job. If you could, just casually bring me up one day, just to see what happens. Maybe tell her she’s fired, ask, and then rehire her, just to test the waters.

Was the restaurant well maintained?

The outside is a beautiful work of art, crafted by God himself, while I’m sure the inside is a soft, caring place that needs me just as much as I need them.

Please provide any additional comments to help us improve your dining experience.

Just help me out here, man. I’ve been pumping money into this place nonstop for three weeks now, you can do me this solid and we’ll call it even. This is fate. I came in looking for beef and found love. I don’t know if you guys are set on your slogan, but you can use that one if you want. See, now you definitely owe me one. You can pay me back by giving Angel Face this survey. I’ve attached my phone number, home address, and a spare key to the back. Please give everything to Angel Face, and tell her “There’s no waiting on love.”

Oh, and the chicken sandwich could be crispier.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always looking for exotic employees to match our exotic business. Let Andy Millman be your big game warden.

Phil’s Wild And Exotic Animal Park Is Now Hiring

By: Andy Millman

Have you ever considered working with animals? Maybe you liked playing with puppies or cuddling kitties as a child. Perhaps you’ve let a squirrel race up your pant leg or fed a gopher a marshmallow you held between your teeth. If so, this could be the job for you.

We’re looking for a real animal lover to work hand-in-hand with one of Phil’s most popular attractions, Ollie the gorilla. Maybe you’ve heard some scuttlebutt regarding Ollie’s last companion, Jacques Cameroon, and the way his career ended at Phil’s (he died). Don’t let that deter you from pursuing your dream. Monsieur Cameroon knew (or should have known) that Ollie doesn’t appreciate being disturbed between four and five in the afternoon, when he watches Family Feud. On September 8, 2014 (the day of “the incident”) Ollie was enjoying the show and his afternoon cigar when the families were asked the following question: “Name a food you might find in the jungle.”

When Larry Barnes, eldest brother of the Barnes family, pounded the buzzer and yelled, “Apples,” Ollie became understandably irate. Even most idiots know that apples do not grow in a jungle. Why Mr. Barnes did not respond with “bananas” or “coconuts,” or even “small snakes,” is anyone’s guess. If he had, however, Ollie likely would not have become agitated and put out a perfectly good cigar on Monsieur Cameroon’s forehead.

You might suggest (perhaps you went to law school) that Mr. Barnes bears some responsibility for these events. We are impressed with your thinking. We are considering filing some sort of papers against Mr. Barnes (maybe you can help us), but first we need to tend to suits from Monsieur Cameroon’s family, as well as from several patrons claiming they were “traumatized” by their afternoon at Phil’s. Ollie is hoping that Judge Judy will be assigned the case. Our lawyers (once we find some) will prove that: (A) Monsieur Cameroon should not have been in the cage during Family Feud hour, and (B) Nobody was making those “eyewitnesses” watch Ollie rip Monsieur Cameroon’s arm off his body and beat him over the head with it.

Now then, back to our current opening. The preferred candidate should be female, with hairy arms and back, and be of childbearing age. A passing resemblance to Dr. Phil is an added plus. The woman should be a pleasant conversationalist with excellent hooting skills and a large to extra-large birth canal. Ollie desires a nest-builder, especially since his last one was destroyed by the fire hose used to stop him from jumping up and down on Monsieur Cameroon. The cooking is basic, though you should be able to heat up a pizza and smash palm nuts with rocks. The other required housekeeping skills are minimal. Ollie is fairly neat and normally flings most of his feces out of the cage.

As you know, gorillas are social animals — often considered “the life of the party” — so you should be friendly and get on well with large primates. Let’s face it: even the humans didn’t care much for Monsieur Cameroon. He was probably not a “good hire.” That doesn’t mean we condoned Ollie beating his head against the bars to the rhythm of The Brady Bunch theme, but to say that we can understand it. And don’t get us started on what the other animals thought of him. If you’re really interested, stop by for a chat with Gretta the Zebra about the time Monsieur Cameroon took her to the movies. It is a most unpleasant story.

On second thought, it’s probably best for you to put Monsieur Cameroon out of your mind. Rest assured, with the right companion (a hairy hooter who looks like Dr. Phil), Ollie will be as gentle as a baby beaver. He is just a little lonely (especially now that Monsieur Cameroon is gone). Ollie wants what you and I do — someone to share our life with, someone to curl up with and watch Murder She Wrote, someone to push our tire swing and pick bugs off our back.

Could you be Ollie’s special someone? Find out by sending a letter of application directly to him. Use large print and simple one or two-syllable words. Draw some pictures. Tell him if you also enjoy Family Feud and other daytime television shows — except for Wheel of Fortune. Do not even mention Wheel of Fortune. As a matter of fact, it would be best not to apply if your name happens to be Pat or Vanna. You should enclose a picture, but nothing too provocative because Ollie gets “worked up” easily (you’ll have no worries in that department!). A simple photo of your everyday life, such as hanging off a tree limb or fishing ants out of a nest with a stick, should suffice. You may also smear some of your musk on the application packet.

All applications that Ollie doesn’t tear apart, eat or set on fire will be kept on file for six months. Don’t despair if you are not called right away. Ollie’s fingers are a little big for the buttons and he often dials incorrectly. If you are not selected for this position, you may still qualify to work with Alex the Angry Alligator. You must have quick reflexes and not smell like chicken. You can pick up an application for that position at Alex’s cage at any time, except on Wednesday nights, when he watches Top Chef.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are usually happy for reasons that are not immediately apparent. Maybe it's something we drank? When you're through reading David Martin's new piece, click on the link below or on our blogroll to purchase his most recent humor collection "Screams & Whispers" on Amazon.

Happy Water

By: David Martin

“…despite the studies demonstrating the benefits of relatively high natural lithium levels present in the drinking water of certain communities, few seem to be aware of its potential.” — The New York Times, September 13, 2014

Well it looks like one community is aware of lithium’s potentially beneficial effect and is planning to do something about it, if this recently leaked draft memo out of San Francisco can be believed:

TO: The Mayor

FROM: The City Water Department

After careful study and consideration, we are proposing that our city’s water supply be supplemented with microscopic amounts of lithium. Based on recent studies, it appears that even trace amounts of that mineral will make for a happier, healthier population.

However, we don’t think that the water supplementation initiative should stop there. If a little lithium is helpful then presumably more will be even better. After an initial trial period, we propose that the amount of lithium added to the water be doubled each year until we determine the optimum amount.

Some in our department have voiced the concern that too much of a good thing might be dangerous. However, on balance, we think the annual doubling metric combines the best elements of efficacy and safety with minimal risk of harm to the water-drinking public. The only risk of note would be a one-year period in which San Franciscans might possibly be a bit too laid back.

In the interests of public health and well-being, we are also proposing additional programs for your consideration. In order to realize a happier citizenry, we propose the occasional use of a benzodiazepine supplement. For example, during our winter months, if long-range weather predictions call for extended periods of rain, we could add appropriate amounts of Diazepam to the city water system in order to lift the public’s spirits. Similarly, on the off chance that there is any snow in the forecast, we could easily titrate in one or more mood elevators on a temporary basis.

Specific holiday water management programs are also under consideration. We have examined the possibility of adding reasonable amounts of ethyl alcohol to assist in annual celebrations such as the Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve. Alcohol levels would, of course, be restricted to a maximum of 4% and would be implemented only in the late evening hours to prevent inadvertent ingestion by children. Some thought was given to specific beverage additions such as Scotch, gin and Champagne but individual tastes vary and the costs would likely be prohibitive.

Some in our department have suggested additional possible seasonal adjustments. Given San Francisco’s pharmaceutical heritage, you may want to consider one-time offerings of various psychedelics when appropriate. It’s not too soon to plan for the fiftieth anniversary of our city’s Summer of Love in 1967. Consideration should be given to adding small amounts of LSD to our water supply in the summer of 2017 to mark the occasion. Individual water fountains in the Haight-Ashbury district could even be temporarily altered to dispense appropriate amounts of psilocybin, ecstasy and/or peyote for the duration of the celebrations.

As for adding fluoride to our city’s drinking water, we recommend that a decision on this matter be postponed indefinitely. It just seems a bit too risky.

* Welcome to The Big Jewel, where we are always happy to tell you the time. If you ask nicely. This means you, Matthew David Brozik! Once you've read his piece, please click on the ad for his book "Whimsy & Soda" on the right-hand side of this page.

I Don’t Want You To Be My Alarm Clock. I Just Want You To Tell Me When It’s 6:17.

By: Matthew David Brozik

It’s really not a big deal. Or, if it’s a big deal for you, I can’t see why it is. I don’t want you to “be my alarm clock.” I just need you to do me a small favor and tell me when it’s 6:17. That’s all! Just let me know, however you see fit, when it’s 6:17. Easy.

But if you can, please let me know as early in the minute as possible. Closer to before 6:17 than to after it, I mean. Like, if you could somehow be sure to be watching the time, so that when it’s 6:16 you’re ready for it to become 6:17 and to tell me as much. That’s preferable to just periodically checking your watch or whatever tells you the time and then just happening to notice that it’s 6:17, because then you might not know that it’s actually very close to 6:18, and by the time you tell me that it’s 6:17, it won’t be anymore. Does that make sense? You might want to ask someone to let you know when it’s 6:16. A third person, I mean. Not me, obviously.

Since the whole reason I’m asking you to do this for me is that I don’t have any other way of telling the time or otherwise being made aware of what time it is, I suppose I can’t justify making any requests about what you use to stay abreast of the time, but if you did happen to be open to suggestions or recommendations, I might mention that a watch or clock that you’ve set yourself is not as good as something that receives signals from a dedicated satellite in geosynchronous orbit. Human error, you understand, but nothing personal. And a digital device is of course better than an analog one, if only because sometimes it can be hard to see just where the minute hand is. You might think it’s on the 17, for instance, but it’s really on the 18, and then the moment — the minute, actually — has literally passed. Please don’t tell me that your watch is fancy and has numbers only for the hours — without even a little line for each minute — so you pretty much have to guess at every time in between five-minute intervals.

If you wear one of those “museum watches” with nothing but a dot where the twelve should be, and you have absolutely no idea what time it is unless it’s noon or midnight, I’m not even sure we can be friends anymore. I don’t need to know if it’s noon or midnight, you understand. I need to know when it’s 6:17. I suppose, though, that if you can afford one of those watches, then you probably have other watches as well, less pretentious watches with actual numbers, and maybe you’d be willing to put one of those on? Grab one with a second hand, if possible.

But we’re coming up on 6:17, aren’t we? I can’t say for sure, but I do feel like we are. I have a sixth sense about time, as it happens, though it’s nothing I can rely on. Certainly not if I ever need to know when it’s a very specific time of day, as I do today. But I’ve taken guesses every now and then, and my talent seems to be knowing when it’s either a quarter past or a quarter to an hour, although I admit that more than once I’ve gotten the hour wrong. In any event, I’m willing to bet that it’s 6:15 now, or it just was, or it very soon will be.

Which gives me two whole minutes to say this: I am still not asking you to be my alarm clock, but come 6:17, if you can find it in your heart to let me know that it is 6:17, could you do it in a way that’s somewhat special? I don’t mean in an elaborate fashion, because there’s really insufficient time to arrange anything like that, but I’d be grateful if you could do something more than just tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, it’s 6:17.” I’m not telling you that I expect you to actually beep, or yell, “Cuckoo!” or whistle Dixie, or anything like that, but making some kind of distinctive repeating nonverbal sound would go a long way toward…Hang on! Just let me finish this thought and then you can respond. I know you’re not thrilled about what I’m asking you to —

What? It’s what time? Oh, God damn it. Thanks for nothing.