The English language is in trouble, dear reader. Not grammar - that arcane set of incomprehensible rules governing the architecture of speech is just as disregarded now as it has ever been. The foul odour of corruption is wafting to us from the building blocks of the language itself: words. Made up solely of Latin, German and things Marlon Brando said in his sleep, English was, for years, as comforting and rigid as religion, with the dictionary as its bible. Just like that good book, once upon a time the dictionary was seen as the final word; if Merriam and/or Webster said that something was so then it could be used anywhere, be it in Scrabble or the blazing put-down of another man's mother. For a brief, shining season the glory of the word was like devouring fire on the top of the mount. Then we began to stray; popular usage superseded common sense and soon the peasantry thought they could just make up words without the help of Heintje, Caesar or Marlon.
What happened once these illiterate Prometheans were allowed to dabble in the art of language? Did the democratization of the word result in beautiful creations that tasted sweet in the mouth? Of course not. We created vicious Chimeras like "assclown", “baggravation” and "quadrilogy". As a movie fan, the latter word is what first drew my attention to this rottenness. “Quadrilogy” was coined in 2003 by the fiends at Fox Studios to promote the upcoming release of the Alien series in a single DVD box set, and when first announced it caught in my throat like a chicken bone. Quadrilogy? Hadn’t poor Ripley suffered enough? I frothed, I raged, I blogged. Oh how I blogged. All for naught, because, thanks to the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood, seven years later the pernicious little Quisling lives on and is being used to describe other series that should have ended after three films. Then recently, while creeping through Vancouver in search of a memorable breakfast, another misshapen Golem lurched into my field of vision. This word? “Omelettery”
I've taken to using the Urbanspoon app on my iPhone to hunt for restaurants when I’m in Vancouver. Yes, I know exactly how yuppie that sounds but there you have it. My usual haunts, up to about the 1100 block of Granville street hadn’t brought me any luck in finding a hearty breakfast worth revisiting, so on this trip I looked little further afield and came up with Paul’s Place Omelettery. The name itself, as I said, was an immediate issue. I don’t care how much they specialize in omelettes; if you want to identify your establishment with a certain product you need to be a little more creative than adding “ery” to the end of things. I don’t call my office the “Stale Jokery”. Instead I call it “Two and a Half Men”.
Would you know, Paul's is the first breakfast I’ve had in Vancouver worth going back to. When I first walked into the restaurant I was taken aback; it looked much more upscale than I had anticipated. The walls were a bright white, the tables sleekly black and the bar near the center of the room had a raft of hanging glasses; I felt a bit out of place in my shorts and T-shirt. But then I noticed that the rest of the customers were dressed like American tourists and in one all-too-bright corner a young couple in dreadlocks were testing the limits of public decency, and suddenly I felt a bit more at home.
A waitress came over and brought me to a table, then furnished me with a menu and cup of coffee. It was pleasantly quiet in there, with only the soft murmur of conversation and light 50s pop playing in the background. The menu had a wide variety of choices but since omelettes were such a hot topic around the place I decided to try one of them, the Conundrum, “chicken, salsa & fresh basil” ($8.95) with a side of pan fries ($1.50).
While I waited for my meal I listened to Lesley Gore cry her way through another party and, from the corner of my eye, watched Mr. & Mrs. Liplock defy the human body’s natural craving for oxygen. By the time breakfast came up about ten minutes later I had come to the conclusion that the duo must, in fact, be a single entity known as “Tonguelung”, a beast which required no oxygen. No two people could survive for that long without air. I was hesitant to turn my back on the creature but breakfast was getting cold.
Paul’s Place has more than managed the omelette; they’ve come fairly close to perfecting it. The egg was light, and soft, like Julianne Moore asleep in your bed with her leg draped across your middle. The mix of cheddar, Edam and cream cheese was melted all the way through and the salsa was refreshingly spicy. The pan fries were average, enough to warrant the extra $1.50 (for $8.95 you get the omelette and toast only) but not outstanding. In fact if not for the bottle of habanero hot sauce the waitress brought with breakfast they would have been completely unnecessary. The service was friendly but not overly so, at one point my coffee was drained and the waitress nowhere in sight. A few minutes later one of the other staff came over and mentioned something about “not knowing where [my] server had gone” and while I understood why she felt the need to explain it came across as unprofessional.
Because they know their away around breakfast I decided to give Paul’s Place a pass on “omelettery” although I will never use the term in referring to the establishment. But, this isolated incident aside, the English language needs us. It is a helpless child wandering the shopping mall of our culture, naively buying into the promises of candy made by passing degenerates who then lead it by the hand into the men’s room.
You may not know this but we are warriors, you and I; strong of heart and broad of chest. In times past we rode elephants with Hannibal on the way to see Clarice; like Clark Gable we ran silent and we ran deep, but with better moustaches. We fought the good fight to protect the weak, innocent and heavily bosomed. Now, the time has come again to pick up our swords and protect that which cannot protect itself. But first, breakfast. How about Paul’s Place?