NRA: The Restaurant at the End of the World

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 165-166

In this scene, Jerry Jenkins achieves a vivid, palpable realism. The effect is brief, but it is powerful, visceral.

Rayford and Hattie were welcomed expansively by the maitre d’ of the Global Bistro.

You, the reader, suddenly realize that you are about to be swept along, accompanying Rayford Steele and Hattie Durham for an entire meal. Your fight or flight instinct kicks in, your pulse quickens, your breathing becomes shallow and rapid. It becomes difficult to articulate your thoughts into anything clearer than a primal, howling Noooo! You wish you were anywhere, absolutely anywhere, other than here, in this restaurant, with these two people.

And that is exactly what this experience would be like in real life. Jenkins has made you feel the very same emotions with the very same intensity that you would be feeling them if you were experiencing this scene in real life. Few writers ever achieve this effect quite so successfully.

I can’t help but respond exactly the way I would if I were there in the flesh. I start examining my surroundings, looking around the restaurant for any blessed distraction from the horror of accompanying these two people on this intensely awkward dinner date.

And here, alas, the spell is broken. The initial emotional realism — the head-to-toe dread and longing to escape — quickly dissipates in a flurry of incongruous and contradictory details. This restaurant, we were told, was the finest in all of New Babylon and a personal favorite of the Antichrist himself. Yet I can’t make any sense of the place. Nor can I reconcile what we’re shown of it with the principles of Nicolae Carpathia’s “Global Community” that it is said to embody.

Rayford and Hattie were welcomed expansively by the maitre d’ of the Global Bistro. The man recognized her, of course, but not Rayford. “Your usual table, ma’am?”

“No, thank you, Jeffrey, but neither would we like to be hidden.”

They were led to a table set for four. But even though two busboys hurried out to clear away two sets of dinnerware, and the waiter pulled out a chair for Hattie while pointing Rayford to the one next to her, Rayford was still thinking of appearances. He sat directly across from Hattie, knowing they would nearly have to shout to hear each other in the noisy place.

Earlier, Rayford fretted about dressing for dinner, making sure he wore something formal enough to be acceptable at this upscale restaurant. We were led to imagine a fine dining establishment — the kind of place with cloth napkins, real silver, crystal water glasses and maybe even live music played on a harp or a grand piano. The fussy maitre d’ and solicitous staff reinforce that impression. So did the idea that this is where the global potentate himself has a “usual table.”

I don’t generally imagine global dictators eating out regularly. I picture them, instead, usually dining at one of those long tables in a palatial dining hall with chandeliers, high-backed chairs and a dizzying assortment of goblets, glasses and silverware at every setting. I picture them having personal chefs and probably even a food-taster screening for poison back in the pantry. (All of that is probably inaccurate, but I admit that my sense of the dining habits of global elites comes mostly from old movies and New Yorker cartoons.)

So now I’m trying to square this idea of a fancy-schmancy high-class restaurant with being told the Global Bistro is a “noisy place.”

And I’m even more confused by the next bit of detail we learn about our surroundings: Instead of tasteful artwork, Le Bistro apparently has TV sets all over the place.

Televisions throughout the Bistro carried the continuing news of war around the world. Hattie signaled the maitre d’, who came running. “I doubt the potentate would appreciate this news depressing patrons who came in here for a little relaxation.”

“I’m afraid it’s on every station, ma’am.”

“There’s not even a music station of some kind?”

“I’ll check.”

Within moments, all the television sets in the Global Bistro showed music videos. Several applauded this, but Rayford sensed Hattie barely noticed.

So now I’m trying to recalibrate my mental image of the restaurant. “Televisions throughout” makes me think of a TGI Fridays or a Buffalo Wild Wings, but places like that don’t have maitre d’s. And what kind of restaurant has TV sets tuned in to cable news? (Jenkins seems to be confusing restaurants with his preferred setting — airports.) I used to stop for breakfast after work at a diner in Marcus Hook where patrons watched the morning news on a TV behind the counter, but that doesn’t seem like the kind of vibe Jenkins is aiming for here.

This is the Restaurant Vila Tusa, which TripAdvisor tells us is the 14th-best restaurant in Cluj, Romania, Nicolae Carpathia’s hometown. Note the absence of TV sets.

Restaurants with TV sets usually keep them tuned to only one thing: sports. Unlike either the news or music videos, sports can be watched with the sound turned off.

In one sense, it’s a positive change that we’re told the news of World War III is “on every station.” Rayford Steele is so preoccupied reminiscing about his past with Hattie — “when they were playing around the edges of an affair of the mind” — that he seems to have completely forgotten about the sort-of-nuclear destruction two days ago of London, Cairo, and a dozen major cities in North America. But in a world anything like the real world, that huge story would, indeed, be on every station — pre-empting all other programming for whatever channels still managed to be on the air, even the ones that only ever show Law & Order re-runs.*

Up until now, though, the world of this story has defied any comparison to the real world. In the world of this story, the obliteration of New York and Los Angeles is a one-day story. The destruction of Chicago does nothing to disturb the daily routine of residents of Evanston. So even though it’s wholly unimaginable and unrealistic to think that sporting events would have resumed two days later, in the context of this story and this book so far, there’s no reason to think that a regularly scheduled game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates wouldn’t be played as though nothing had changed (or a game between the Charlotte Bobcats and the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA, if it’s wintertime — we readers have no idea what time of year anything in this book takes place).

Just thinking about sports, though, leads me to wonder what sort of sports there might be in the “Global Community” of the Antichrist’s one-world government. Nicolae Carpathia has insisted that the entire globe share a single government, a single currency, a single language and a single religion. It makes sense that he should also have imposed a single sport for the entire world.

Soccer seems like the obvious candidate. (And yes, since American English appears to have become the official one-world language, it would be called “soccer.”) But how would that work now that all prior national and ethnic loyalties have been subsumed into a single Global Community? The One World Cup promises to be a sad, one-round affair consisting only of a “final” between GC and Israel. The Global Community squad would be heavily favored, I think, since they’d draw from the very best players of every other former nation on Earth. Plus the Israeli team would need a new place to practice, what with their home stadium having been taken over by Moses and Elijah’s revival meetings. In their favor, though, Israel wouldn’t have lost any players during the disappearances of the Event 18 months ago** — so at least they’d have all their starters still ready to play.

And while we’re musing about this, shouldn’t the harmony-through-uniformity logic of the Global Community mean a single world cuisine as well? I can’t really imagine what that might mean — something as flavorless and uninspiring as Nicolae’s one-world religion, probably. But imagining such a one-world cuisine still seems easier than making sense of the description of the menu that Jenkins gives us here:

Though the Global Bistro had a French-sounding name, Hattie herself had helped conceive it, and the menu carried international cuisine, mostly American. She ordered an unusually large meal. Rayford had just a sandwich.

Sandwiches and unusually large portions, I suppose, is as clear a description of “American” cuisine as one could hope for.

As this post illustrates, I wasn’t joking about the near-physical sensation of revulsion I feel toward sitting down to a long dinner conversation between Rayford and Hattie. Rayford is just too creepy for comfort in these situations.

They were led to a table set for four. But even though two busboys hurried out to clear away two sets of dinnerware, and the waiter pulled out a chair for Hattie while pointing Rayford to the one next to her, Rayford was still thinking of appearances. He sat directly across from Hattie, knowing they would nearly have to shout to hear each other in the noisy place. The waiter hesitated, looking irritated, and finally moving Rayford’s tableware back to in front of him. That was something Hattie and Rayford might have chuckled over in their past, which included a half-dozen clandestine dinners where each seemed to be wondering what the other was thinking about their future. Hattie had been more flirtatious than Rayford, though he had never discouraged her.

Blame the waiter, blame Hattie, nothing is ever Rayford’s fault.

In the past, when they were playing around the edges of an affair of the mind, Rayford had to remind Hattie to order and then encourage her to eat. Her attention had been riveted on him, and he had found that flattering and alluring. Now the opposite seemed the case.

Hattie studied her menu as if she faced a final exam on it in the morning. She was as beautiful as ever, now 29 and pregnant for the first time. She was early enough along that no one would know unless she told them. She had told Rayford and Amanda the last time they were together. At the time she seemed thrilled, proud of her new diamond, and eager to talk about her pending marriage. She had told Amanda that Nicolae was “going to make an honest woman of me yet.”

Hattie was wearing her ostentatious engagement ring; however, the diamond was turned inward toward her palm so only the band was visible. Hattie was clearly not a happy woman, and Rayford wondered if this all stemmed from her getting the cold shoulder from Nicolae at the airport. He wanted to ask her, but this meeting was her idea. She would say what she wanted to say soon enough.

We’ll hear what Hattie has to say next week. Unfortunately though, we’ll only get to hear it filtered through the distorting, condescending lens of Rayford’s point of view.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* Also, if Hattie is right that the potentate wouldn’t want 24/7 coverage of his World War depressing people, then this coverage would not be “on every station.” The Antichrist owns and controls every station. They broadcast whatever he wants them to broadcast.

** Because, in Tim LaHaye’s theology, Jews are just a special sub-category of “the unsaved.” LaHaye, like most premillennial dispensationalist “Bible prophecy” enthusiasts, believes in hard supersessionism — a theology in which real, true Christians replace the Jews as God’s chosen people and the beneficiaries of all the promises God ever made to the people of Israel.

LaHaye’s complicated theology requires this supersessionism for a variety of complicated reasons that we don’t need to explore here. But I also think the illogic of this view is appealing to LaHaye. Just consider another piece of his life’s work — promoting his wife’s anti-feminist lobbying group, Concerned Women for America. Beverly LaHaye and her army of “concerned women” reject feminism because, in their mind, anyone who says women and men should be equal must hate men. Any effort to improve the lives of women is perceived as an attack on men. Take that same logic and apply it to the New Testament’s insistence that Gentile Christians do not need to become Jewish in order to be counted among the people of God. If that is good news for Gentiles, then by LaHaye-logic it must be bad news for Jews. Tim LaHaye makes the same odd leap here that his wife makes with regard to feminism: If Gentile Christians do not need to become Jewish in order to be counted among the people of God, he thinks, then Jews must have to become Gentile Christians.

For the record, I think supersessionism is a really big mistake, but I tend to find the theological arguments about this confusing, so I’m not sure whether that makes me orthodox or a heretic. “Remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you.” That seems clear enough. I can’t make sense of any theology that sees value in being a wild branch grafted onto what it also says is a dead tree.

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  • aunursa

    I’m not sure why it couldn’t be accurate — it’s an average. I got it from here.

    If we accept the English premier league average, 2.8 is still half the number of touchdowns in a typical NFL game (there are also field goals and the occasional safety) … and one-third the number of runs in a major league baseball game.

    (And football and baseball include several time outs, whereas soccer can often have 45 straight minutes of play with no scoring.)

  • SisterCoyote

    …ye gods and little fishes, that is perfect. And awful. Very well done, dude.

  • Lorehead

    I’m not disputing that soccer is a lower-scoring game. I just don’t think that’s the real reason it isn’t more popular. And it is, in fact, very popular in the U.S.: average attendance at MLS games (18,807) is higher than for the NBA or the NHL, and soccer is the #3 team sport played by high school girls and #4 for high school boys. It’s pretty clear that which sports are popular in which countries is mostly a matter of tradition.

    As for why I don’t buy that number: for one thing, it doesn’t say which games it’s taking the average of or cite a source. For another, it breaks the number down into “winning team” and “losing team” when soccer games can end in ties, an obvious sign that something is fishy.

    There are many more scoring opportunities than there are goals. Saves and shots off the post are dramatic moments, too. The comment above about how things are still happening in a baseball game even when the ball’s not being pitched or fielded applies even more so to a soccer game, where the positioning and passing to create a scoring opportunity or gain possession are continuous and the clock never stops.

  • SisterCoyote

    My dad used to say that the reason soccer would never take off in America is because there were fewer options for commercial breaks. In baseball and American football, you can cut to commercial between innings, or during a time out, and so on – but soccer’s basically continuous play. The only pauses you get, even as a player, is for a corner kick or a goal kick, and even then, it is a very brief pause. So, no commercials = no sponsors = no push = no audience.

  • guest

    Oh god, never eat a pasty outside Cornwall…. And I don’t like fish and chips, so that’s out. I will say, in all seriousness, that with the exception of produce (which I now grow myself or pick wild) it’s a lot easier to get high-quality local food at a reasonable price here than it was even in California–the convenience store down the street sells local eggs, organic meat and dairy, and although you have to look for them there are a couple of excellent bakeries in town. And of course there’s the beer :) But I swear to you, never ever let an English person touch your food (I almost never cooked for myself before I moved here, now I hardly eat anything but my own cooking), and never ever let an English person recommend a restaurant.

  • guest

    I just wish I could even get a turkey and swiss on rye with lots of mayo for lunch once in a while….

  • guest

    Years ago I was at a breakfast place with a friend who ordered Zen tea. The waiter brought out my drink (hot chocolate or something) and set an empty cup on a saucer in front of her and walked away. She looked at it and went ‘oh wow, Zen tea, that’s awesome!’ then went on to declaim a series of profound statements, culminating in lifting it to her lips for a sip of emptiness. Meanwhile the waiter, standing behind her chair with the teapot he’d gone back to get, stared at her like she was a crazy person.

  • Lorehead

    You’re really stretching if you complain that no one will watch soccer because it doesn’t insert commercial breaks for the benefit of advertisers. And, in fact, NBC just paid $250 million for a three-year television contract to broadcast the English Premier League in the U.S. The U.S. television rights to World Cup matches between 2007 and 2014 (i.e., two world cups) went for $425 million, albeit most of that for the Spanish-language rights.

    In practice, MLS hasn’t found a television audience and therefore has been forced to sell sponsorships in other ways, such as renaming the New York team the Red Bulls, and this jersey sponsorship from a certain Mexican baked-goods company.

  • Katie

    That works, but its not the only way to cook with peppers. Different peppers have different qualities of flavor, the trick is knowing what kind to use. Jalapenos, for example, are fabulous if you’re making a mild to medium salsa fresca.

  • I’ve often suspected that it’s the addition of a third dimension to the movement of the item-of-scoring (ball, hockey puck) that gives rise to such inflated scores in basketball compared to hockey, even though they involve similar numbers of players.

  • Lorehead

    Basketball was a low-scoring game before it introduced the shot clock and goaltending rules. And if soccer awarded as many penalty kicks as basketball does free throws, it would be a high-scoring game, too.

  • Lorehead

    You’re adding the scores for both teams together, which is fine. The average NFL team scored 2.5 touchdowns per game last season. In baseball, recall that up to four runs could score on the same play, so the number of scoring plays is significantly lower than the number of runs per game.

    Another fact to consider is that a soccer game lasts ninety minutes, plus a few minutes of extra time and halftime. A NFL game lasts, on average, three hours (with twelve minutes of halftime and two two-minute intermissions between quarters). A MLB game lasts over two hours and fifty minutes, which goes up to three and a half hours in the postseason. The average length of time between scores is therefore closer than your numbers would suggest. And if you count “or scoring opportunities” for other sports, you should do the same for soccer and count shots on goal. Saves are exciting!

  • Lorehead

    Oh, sorry if my earlier question didn’t make much sense. Disqus has a bug in which it displays guest comments under the wrong name, so yours appeared under the name Matt in PDX. Hence why I thought you were from Portland.

  • Daniel

    They’d be like sulky children, they’d prod the food around with their forks, making a very ostentatious display of looking for the meat, then when they’d turned the beautifully presented portion into a godawful mess that noone else could bring themselves to eat they’d declare that they weren’t hungry. Then they’d start mocking every other “man” in the restaurant who wasn’t doing the same.

    Incidentally I had the pleasure of eating in a Czech Vegetarian Chinese restaurant last week. There are not-quite-correct English translations of the dishes’ names on the menu, and my personal favorite was “Happy Vegan Balls”. He was probably happier before he prepared that meal, though.

  • Daniel

    I also imagine Buck (but not the sophisticated Rayford) yelling at his vegetarian food sarcastically demanding that the meat comes out of hiding. Buck laughs a lot at this joke, and you can judge how far much Chloe’s been reprogrammed by her ratio of red faced embarrassment to laughing along with him.

  • Daniel

    I’m actually missing some of the bad food too. I’d kill for a gregg’s sausage roll, even though they are disgusting.

  • guest

    Hahaha they are, though I admit I stop by there for a bacon cheese wrap or two every now and then.

  • Daniel

    Thank you kindly. I’m still new on this site and I keep filling up large chunks of threads with stories, so I’m glad you liked it.

  • Daniel

    Well I have a lot in common with the characters. The Handbook for the Recently Reborn says “literate people ignore the pompous and inept”. I myself am pompous and inept.

  • themunck

    This post was brought to you by C.M.O.T. Dibbler.

  • Panda Rosa

    Catchy! :-)
    We really need a show to put this in.
    Anyone feel like reviving “Left Behind –THE MUSICAL!”

  • aunursa

    My wife and her side of the family now hate your family.

  • aunursa

    Here are some other perspectives from some Americans who consider watching a soccer game boring…

    America to World: We Do NOT Want Soccer Here
    Soccer’s Heavy Boredom
    Making Soccer Less Boring: A Modest Proposal

  • aunursa

    It may be difficult to have commercial breaks, but there are certainly other ways to provide advertising opportunities during the broadcast.

  • Panda Rosa

    “on the borderland beyond the fence on the shores of the puddle of the mind” Love this! Sounds like a tortured variation on “Windmills Of Your Mind” by someone who can’t recall the words. :-)

  • chgo_liz

    I’m a south sider. Our families already hate each other!

    edited to add: For non-Chicagoans, this might seem extreme. I assure you, we would not actually have a shoot-out if we somehow managed to meet. They’re just sore because the White Sox are a good team and they’re stuck with the Cubs.

    Steven Goodman’s “A Dying Cub Fan’s Last Request:

  • This sounds like some kind of magic ritual from a fantasy novel. “To create the elixir of eternal virility, use testicles of a man whose lips have touched not the food product of any animal, plucked at the moment of his greatest joy”

  • Lorehead

    I think the first one most clearly gets at what’s really going on. He flat-out states that Americans appreciate baseball only because we grew up with it and Europeans appreciate soccer only because they grew up with it. It’s pointless to look for an explanation for why people in Japan love baseball and people in India love cricket or for the relative popularity of Rugby union, Rugby league, Australian football, Canadian football and American football in terms of national character. Which sports are popular where, subject to practicality, is a matter of local custom.

    It also gets at the real reason behind hostility to soccer: not that there isn’t enough strategy, or enough scoring, or that the best teams don’t consistently win, since those complaints do not stand up to scrutiny. It’s that they don’t like the people who like it. Re-read that first title, “America to World: We Do NOT Want Soccer Here,” keeping in mind that soccer is popular with immigrants, Europeans, and people who live in cities. Young people grew up with soccer and either watched the women’s world cup in 1999 or grew up when the U.S. women’s national team was famous; old people didn’t. It’s a knee-jerk reactionary response in search of a justification. Likewise, you’re starting to see liberal bloggers attack the sport of football, and especially the college football popular in the South, as morally illegitimate. Brain damage! Exploitation!

    The second article, by the way, is very well-written, and if you didn’t read past the first paragraph to where he explains why he loves soccer anyway, you should.

  • aunursa

    My wife and in-laws are indifferent to the Sox.

  • Daniel

    “This is the Restaurant Vila Tusa, which TripAdvisor tells us is the
    14th-best restaurant in Cluj, Romania, Nicolae Carpathia’s hometown.
    Note the absence of TV sets.”

    Why do you think it’s only number 14? Number one has a massive screen showing the twenty four hour pigeon racing channel. And it does a cracking beans on toast.

  • Daniel

    Again this comes back to their inability to imagine the mindset of anyone who actually doesn’t share their beliefs. It doesn’t cross the collective mind of Timkins that it may be possible for a woman who’s doing quite well in her career, who’s moved on from a weird psychologically damaging pseudo-relationship with a predatory and controlling older man to an apparently satisfying one with “a young Robert Redford” who is talented, accomplished, multi-lingual, trusting and er… the undisputed leader of the entire world to actually be ok with a long engagement and that she may not feel getting married is that big a priority. It’s like earlier when it’s made clear that having sex with Nicolae (“they may have been intimate!”) was enough to make her his. Sex is branding, once you do it you own the other person for ever.

  • hagsrus

    “Meat? Who needs meat? I’ll have the ‘Vision of Eternity’ steaming piles of produce drenched in butter.”

  • Daniel

    Dieu Merci, C’est Vendredi

  • Well, he always eats steak except when an orthodox rabbi suggests shrimp.

    (Now, I hate shrimp. But I guess if an orthodox rabbi told me to eat the shrimp, I might well conclude that it was indeed shrimp worth trying)

  • Daniel

    But then what would he have to compare it to? Except, obviously, the roast pork.

  • She probably read it off his name tag.

    I mean if Jenkins thinks “fine dining” is a noisy bistro with televisions, he probably thinks maitre d’s wear name tags like the hosts at IHOP.

    Actually, that might explain the mostly-American “international cuisine”, too. The “International House of Pancakes” is probably his idea of what “international cuisine” looks like.

  • Zippy

    This is the television show they should have been watching:

    “Gee, you’re in a rotten mood.”
    “For 4 o’clock in the morning, this is a good mood … Why are we meeting in an alley? Why didn’t you just tell me that over the phone?”

    “Because what if the bad guys had bugged your telephone?”

    “Well, then, they’d know we’re meeting in an alley.”
    –Benson (series) starring Robert Guilliame

  • Randall

    Hockey has less scoring, but many exciting opportunities (power plays)

    This is some strange new definition of “exciting” with which I am not familiar.

  • Randall

    Or Robert B. Parker.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    So does my local McD’s. Usually tuned to Fox News.

  • Dragoness Eclectic

    Pfft! They make (or did when I was a child) perfectly good pasties in northern Michigan. I learned to like them as a child in Michigan. Lot of Welsh settled there, apparently, brought the food with them.

  • guest

    I believe you! should have said ‘never eat a pasty in England outside Cornwall’.

  • I think Michener may have been on to something then. But then, I am biased. I love the quiet elegance of a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel.

  • christopher_y

    “Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie”?

    But you’d never get your food (or if you did you’d be interrupted before you could eat it)…

  • Jamoche

    They also made a point of saying their raptured Pope was considered almost heretical – for wanting the same sort of things Martin Luther wanted.

    L&J have never heard of the Counter-Reformation.

  • Jamoche

    I knew your post reminded me of something:

    CLIENT: We have an international clientele, so we decided to give the restaurant a French name. We’re calling it (writing on the whiteboard) the “Café Royale.”

    ME: You should drop the “e” off the end. In French, “café” is masculine, so it should just be (erasing the final “e”) “Café Royal.”

    CLIENT: But then it wouldn’t look French. (turning to the general manager) Let’s go with the French spelling. (pauses) The one with the “e” on the end.

    The Food & Beverage Manager of this hotel, who was also present at the meeting, was a Frenchman. Later I asked him why he didn’t object. He said, “I’ve long since learned never to try to teach French to Americans.”

  • Discus ate my flash-fiction!

    I wrote a short piece on Saturday that managed to explain Hattie a little better*, and helped the restaurant make sense. (“Hattie hated the name of the place; bistros don’t have a maitre d’, but the Global Community Committee on Continuity insisted on ‘maintaining the brand’ when it came to naming. Hattie was not at all surprised when she learned the GCCoC consisted of four newly graduated marketing majors with no work experience.”)

    I can see three ways to make sense of “the menu carried international cuisine, mostly American.”

    1.) Hattie recruited a top chef from each of the 10 districts/protectorates/kingdoms/whatever in the OWG; the place has a prix fix menu, changing each day or week, rotating through chef specialities. A smaller menu of “American fare” (hamburger, grilled cheese sandwich, french fries) would be available on what the chefs privately referred to as le menu enfant.

    2.) The Global Cafe has a very thick menu offering a lot of dishes, not unlike, say, the Cheesecake Factory. So it has three or four main dishes each from a given type of cuisine, (plus a similar number of appetizers and deserts) and maybe ten or twelve different styles of cuisine, for a net total of maybe 200 dishes total. These would be the simplest, safest dishes with the widest recognition; the “Latin dishes” might have tamales in corn husks not banana leaves, and good luck getting mole’ sauce or menudo. That sort of fits our description (especially with Hattie needing to study the menu) but it doesn’t match up with a high-end dining experience.

    3.) The Global Bistro is a cafeteria not unlike what you see on a modern campus or hospital: lots of simple foods, a salad bar, a sandwich bar, a grill for burgers, maybe an “Asian food” section, and a rotating special menu (“Taco Salad Tuesdays!”). This is a far and distant cry from actual high-end dining, but it’s probably much more familiar to L&J.

    *Hattie works quite well as a character who originally made unethical choices in order to protect herself and/or her family, and then became accustomed to a lifestyle. A flight attendant in need of a lot of money (because, say, her parents were hospitalized, and deeply in debt) could probably find work as a drug mule. Suddenly, being sweet and flirty with the airline pilot takes on new shades of meaning, as she slips a pound of black tar heroin under his console each flight in order to set him up as a fall guy if things go wrong. After the Event, her immediate contact vanishes, either because he found Jesus, or because his bosses decided with all these disappearances, it was a good time to get rid of one more person. Suddenly, she’s a loose end in a drug-running operation, so her attaching herself to a high-level diplomat makes a lot of sense; it’s only afterwards that she realizes she’s caught a tiger by the tail and he’s a bigger threat than she thought. Now, in that light, her calling up Rayford and seeming “lonely” has a lovely air, doesn’t it?

  • Lorehead

    I’m going to correct myself from before: 22% of the population of Brazil is now Evangelical.

  • Original Lee

    Or Rex Stout.

  • Carstonio

    Soccer could be the obvious candidate for the Global Community sport for ideological reasons. I suspect Ellanjay might see soccer as infected with sissified European intellectualism, maybe the Marxism of the sports world. Similarly, US football has long had strong connections with evangelicalism.

    But other writers of the same ideological bent might turn this around, having football in an Antichrist-ruled world degenerate to the level of gladiatorial games. Like after a sack, the defender would tear out the quarterback’s intestines and hold them up before the bloodthirsty crowd.