Carbon Neutral Dining

We meet four Ladies Who Lunch in an Upper West Side New York bistro.

“Martha!” cooed Sarah.

“Sarah!” cooed Martha. “Janet and Catherine late as usual, I see.”

“Never mind them. Have a sip of this exquisite Cheval Blanc.”

Martha drained her glass. “It’s darling. Organic?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, I know where Janet is. She and Robert just returned from the islands. Lots to take care of.” Martha checked her makeup with a small mirror. “This snow isn’t helping, either. My Fendi hardly blocks out the cold!”

Sarah refilled both glasses. “I don’t see how Janet’s busy. Robert has the company jet.”

After drinking, Martha nodded and said, “But when she returned there was some sort of difficulty with customs. They made her stand in line with a non-charter flight from the Dominican Republic! Simply took her hours.”

“Don’t turn around, but here they come. Ah,” Sarah used the glass to hide her lips, “Catherine has another new bauble. Just watch her not show it off.”

“Janet!” cooed Martha.

“Catherine!” cooed Sarah. Janet and Catherine cooed and sat.

Martha signaled for another bottle. As it was being poured, Janet found a water spot on a fork and she asked that a new set of cutlery be brought to the table.

Catherine reached for her glass the same time the waiter was clearing her setting, knocking a plate to the ground. “Sorry!” squealed Catherine. “I keep catching this thing on everything.” She gestured with her wrist.

Sarah whispered, “Oh, God” and emptied her glass. Janet pretended not to have heard. But Martha said, “Wherever did you get it! That pink coral is hard to find.”

Catherine held up the trinket to admire it in the light. “Oh, Jimmy’s latest movie has done rather well. This was to celebrate. He said…”

“Martha mentioned you had a vacation, Janet,” Sarah interrupted. Martha sent for a new bottle.

“It was a carbon-neutral vacation!” Catherine couldn’t help herself. “Janet hates global warming.”

“I’ll drink to that,” said Sarah. And she drank to it. Martha drank, too. “I despise global warming,” she said.

“It was wonderful. A small place in the Bahamas—an entire island where you can relax in the sun while saving the planet. They have marvelous technology.” Janet drank to the happy memory.

“I think I read about it in the Times,” Martha remembered.

“I did, too,” Sarah was an expert. “They use a special kind of platform built right into the roof that overhangs the porch. It blocks harmful solar radiation. You use thirty-two percent less electricity.” Sarah cooled herself with more wine.

“They also save all the rainwater,” said Janet. “It goes right into the fountain by the clubhouse. It looks beautiful at night; so colorful. Something about lasers.”

As Martha poured out another bottle, she said, “What I can’t understand is how some people can deny the truth of global warming. Comedian Bill Maher can’t believe it, either.”

“It’s those Republicans. They can’t—they refuse!—to understand the science,” said Janet.

“Jimmy doesn’t like Republicans, either,” said Catherine. “One time…”

Sarah jumped in, “The whole issue is settled! Yet by trickery people are forced to believe what isn’t true.”

“The real trouble is that these deniers aren’t smart enough. The concepts are too sophisticated,” said Martha.

“I know! It’s just so simple,” chided Janet.

As she asked for another bottle, Sarah said, “What can you expect from the party of big oil? They lie in the name of profits.”

Martha noticed the waiter hovering. “What are we having?” she asked the table.

“Jimmy always said to order the Wagyu beef,” advised Catherine.

“That’s for me,” seconded Martha.

“You always have the same thing,” Sarah tsked. “Donnez-moi les Côtes d’agneau aux herbes et foie gras.” Sarah spoke French, which shows sophistication. However, the waiter did not, so she had to reorder.

Janet had the Almas caviar and wild salmon poached in truffle butter. “And bring us some more wine,” she added.

As they ate, the conversation ranged over important topics. Janet announced that her husband had set up a tax shelter while in the Caribbean designed to trade carbon offsets. When the bill came, Sarah took it because she was good at math. She divided by four and told everybody the amount.

“I forgot to ask Jimmy for any cash,” said Catherine, managing to look shy.

Janet said, “I’m offsetting this meal to fight climate change.”

Sarah drank the rest of the wine to drown out her grumbling. Martha reached into her bag, pulled out money and as she handed it over said, “But Sarah, honey. This won’t be enough to cover the tip.”

“Tip after being sat at a table with filthy silverware? Never. These people need to be taught a lesson.”


  1. You will pay for this! LWLiaUWSNYb are not to be mocked. Wait till Bill Maher gets done with you. He will reach up over his pointy head and cut you to ribbons.

  2. TomVonk

    Ah William again that plural “s” …
    It is “leS côteS d’agneau” but “foie gras” . Well you might object that there is an “s” in gras so it would be consistent with an s in foies .
    But it’s just that adjective “gras” finishes with “s” already in singular so , logically , it’s the same word for both singular and plural .
    Amusingly “fois” means “times” (like in 3 times 2) what translates your phrase approximately : Give me lamb chops with spices multiplied by fat”
    What would save your lady even with a french speaking waiter is that foie and fois is pronounced in the same way 🙂
    Beyond the linguistic anecdote , you really hit the nail on the head .
    Such people are called in France “bobo” (bourgeois bohême) and they are the worst calamity for mankind .
    Not only because they are idiots and they are abysmally so .
    But also because they spectacularly violate all statistical laws .
    One would expect from people with an IQ of an oyster to behave randomly , e.g to be right about in 50% of cases and wrong in 50% too .
    But the bobos historically managed to be wrong in 100% of cases .
    They supported fascists and were slaughtered by fascists , they supported communists and were slaughtered by communists , they support environmentalists today and will be slaughtered by environmentalists .
    Interestingly the bobos exclusively thrive outside of the area of their interest (if we can call their organic bowel reflexes “interest”) .
    Bobos who declared their understanding for the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (because communism was such a nice idea) were all in the West .
    Of course the Czechs were too busy being massacred to loose time on how cute the idea of communism was .
    The bobos who fought against the “imperialist war” in Vietnam were the first to be surprised when Pol Pot in a logical continuation almost succeeded to wipe out its own population in Cambodia .
    And I submit that it will be the same with environmentalism .
    To illustrate that , what better than a quote of THE master of deception , Adolf H . One day when he was in a good mood among people of his inner circle , he was joking about his (bobo) supporters . He said “Those useful people think me entertaining . I am afraid they understood nothing about national socialism .”

  3. TomVonk

    For some reason my post won’t appear . Must be some automatic spam filter or such .
    I tried 2 times but nothing . Happened for the first time .

  4. TomVonk

    Ah , this one appeared . Might it be that I used some forbidden word ? Perhaps it will be stuck somewhere waiting for your moderation then William .

  5. Briggs


    Sorry, my new spam set up has been acting screwy. I got rid of WP-Spamfree because it was killing all track-backs and ping-backs without allowing me to see them. So I’m back with Akismet, which generates a lot of false positives. I have to continuously check the spam queue to see if something has been misplaced.

    Anyway: French! It will kill me in the end. I have the idea that rules are made up on the spot to frustrate non-native speakers.

  6. Bernie

    You misogynist, you!!

  7. Sam

    What happened to Susan and where did Sarah come from?

  8. Briggs


    On the advice of my legal counsel, I ain’t sayin’. I can say that Susan has gone to the bathroom and will not be returning. Sarah is now sitting in for her.

  9. JH


    Joke or not, it (misogynist) did cross your mind… and mine.

  10. Briggs


    OK, I’ll bite. How?

  11. Bernie

    I think Matt nailed a type.
    Assuming that Matt would claim that he is not a misogynist, perhaps you can think of a topic that would reveal the degree, if any, of Matt’s misogyny.

  12. JH

    How did it cross Bernie’s mind? Obviously, you will have to ask him.

    First explain to me, Bernie’s comment is not a bait because HE is Bernie, but mine is? Why?

    Did I claim that Matt is a misogynist?

  13. Bernie

    JH & Matt:
    When I called Matt a misogynst it was clearly a joke, based on the fact that all four characters of the satire were women and Matt is a man. Do I actually think Matt is a misogynist? No. Did you call Matt a misogynst? Kind of but not directly. Did I think it was funny to pull Matt’s chain? Yup! Will I do it again? Probably, given what I take to be Matt’s sense of humor and playfulness. Am I prepared for equivalent jokes at my expense? Absolutely, but I reserve the right to retaliate in kind.

    I meant no offence. If I gave any, my apologies.

  14. JJD

    FYI – Cheval Blanc is actually the same stuff as Lone Star beer. Just a different bottle.

  15. Bernie

    After 6 bottles of Cheval Blanc nobody could know or care what it tasted like.
    On the subject of beer, anything that you have to put lemon, lime or salt into cannot be considered beer.

  16. JH


    Sorry that I didn’t reply sooner. Friday morning is usually my Skype time with families and friends.

    My statement that you are one of my favorite commenter’s on this blog still stands.

  17. JH

    darn… commenters, not commenter’s.

    Mr. Briggs,

    No, I don’t think that you hate all women, perhaps just some women, e.g., Hillary Clinton and some humongous-hearted, compassionate & peace-loving (and labeled as liberal here in the US, a weird labeling) female professors. I know at least one of them. Yeah, you need to avoid them; they are wicked.

    I know Bernie was joking. However, you know, there is a bit truth to every joke. If the thought crossed Bernie’s mind, why would it be a surprise that it did mine for the same reason? You may choose to tell yourself that Bernie’s joke doesn’t mean anything because he is one of YOU, and that it’s impossible that the post can be misogynistic, more appropriately, “condescending toward women” . Fine, and

    I still will have a great weekend.

    You have criticized liberals, academia and so-called progressives (whatever those labels mean, but they were what Mao used against intellectuals to stir up the atrocious culture revolution). Those are the groups of people you choose to shoot at, fine, I am all for different political views.

    You’ve condescendingly targeted single mothers whose children are on welfare (a very small group of women) as if they have asexual reproduction. So you choose to snipe at women, not those men who are responsible for the pregnancy. Interesting choice.

    So really, you see now I am just a bit confused as to whom are you trying to put down in this satire? Ladies who are on husband-fare instead of welfare? Ladies who think the GW is happening? Ladies who need their husband to order their food? Or liberal ladies? I cannot seem to drop the word “ladies” from all possible answers.

    I am not going to apologize about how I feel about your post. Is it a big deal? No. You want to know how the thought came across my mind. There you go.

    Darn, no time to comment on the new post, maybe will do so tomorrow.

  18. Briggs


    Hey, no fair bringing up mass-murderer, and primo socialist Mao! He really used the word “progressives” in his sputum? You’re right, I’m frightened by any association with him.

    You’re also right that I do hate some but not all women. I also hate some but not all men. Empirically, it seems I hate a larger percentage of men than women; though I would not object to the term misanthrope.

    I am not in the least condescending towards women, or men, who receive welfare. That you think so, and that you argue so emotionally against any such condescension, real or imagined, is why having debates about these topics is to difficult. “You don’t care as I much as I do!” or “You hate!” is always a topper.

    Well, no. Women, or men, on welfare who calculate that it is financially better for them to remain unmarried, out of work, and with child are acting rationally in the sense they are maximizing their short-term financial well being. But they do not do so well for the long term, nor for their children. The problem is not with the recipients but with the people offering the handouts in the name of caring. If I say, as I do, that the majority of welfare recipients and their progeny would be better off without the free food and money, that is something that can be tested (and has, many times). But it’s cheating to answer that I only say this because I am anti-women, or that I hate, or etc. Actually, my argument shows that I care more.

    About the satire, and who I am putting down. The story would not change on whit were you to interchange all females for males. Even the female who received the trinket can easily be imagined as a younger male receiving gifts from an older woman. Thus, I am, as I would have hoped would not be necessary to explain, putting down liberal peoples and their self-contradictory philosophies, here presented in the mouths of females.

    Incidentally, an empirical point in my favor. Travel those Upper West Side $$$$ bistros at lunch on a weekday and count the proportion of males to females. You’ll quickly see that my story was statistically, as well as philosophically, accurate. This being true, and your objecting to my accuracy, suggests you might harbor a wee bit of misandry?

  19. Rich

    Tom Vonk:

    “too busy being massacred to loose time”. That should be “lose”. What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

  20. Bernie

    I genuinely appreciate your kind comment.

    Currently, I am actually more interested in Stan Young’s stuff – but after reading your most recent comment I realized that one reason why I made the joke was that I was anticipating the reaction of the very people Matt was satirizing in the piece – if they were to stumble across it . As I said, they are a type. (Hamilton, the New Yorker cartoonist, captures them pretty well –

    Matt is actually claiming to be and is probably kinder than I am. While I am seldom rude, I have been known to deliberately wind up ardent liberals by asking them such provocative questions as “How do you decide what to pay the person who cleans your house?” “Do you have any evidence that suggests that the (name your program) represents a good return on the investment?” “Do you make additional contributions to the general revenue fund on your tax return?” (In Massachusetts there is a line on the tax form that allows you to volunteer to pay a slightly higher rate which nobody does so that always is a winner.)

    I take illicit and sometimes explicit delight in the consternation and heightened emotional states such questions cause. It is even better when a knowing person joins in the fun, by adding such cliches and fillips as “You probably think there are still WMDs in Iraq” or “You don’t seem to care about others” or “You are being too cold” or “We have to do something” .

    If it looks like a medical condition is being triggered, I can always end hostilities by politely saying, “We will simply have to agree to disagree” and talk about the Westminster Dog Show.

    In the mean time, the sun is shining and the sequestered carbon in my yard needs to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way, so I must go.

    P.S. I trust there is a small smile on your face.

  21. JH

    Yes, a smile on my face, always. Having been a long time reader of this blog, I think I know your style. I sometimes enjoy observing how people respond to each other more than the contents of their comments. Each reader has its own personality. I sometimes think Matt has a thick skin that a bomb cannot penetrate. Fun it is.

  22. JH

    Mr. Briggs,

    I didn’t realize that I argued so emotionally. I think it’s simply your impression, just as that your post came across as condescending is my impression. Are the impressions justified? Maybe so, maybe not.

    If you change the characters to men, yes, it would affect how I draw my conclusions… just a statistician’s habit.

    People can indeed care in various ways. I don’t know if the problem is with the caring people who offer handouts, but I don’t have the illusion that a system run by and involving human beings can be flawless.

    If it’s something that has been tested many times in modern days, let’s hear it! (Another time perhaps.) I imagine there be generous citizens like my grandparents who had offered their extra rooms and food to families and friends who temporarily need help.

    A wee bit of misandry? No, I am quite a misandrist. Let me furnish you with a piece of evidence… just another habit of a statistician. I have been disseminating anti-male propaganda to my teen daughters for at least a year now.

    My final words on this thread.

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