favorite restaurant

Daily writing prompt
What is your favorite restaurant?

I was posted to Misawa Air Base as my last duty assignment in the Air Force. It was simultaneously the worst and the best assignment I had in my 21 years of service. On the very first day, for instance, I was on a charter flight with my wife and kids over the Arctic Circle on September 11th, 2001, when the captain announced that he’d been ordered to return to Fairbanks, but he didn’t tell us why until we were on the ground. When we finally got to Misawa three days later, the whole base turned out to meet us.

What’s this got to do with my favorite restaurant? When we arrived, one of the first people to meet us was my sponsor, a person in my unit who was given the responsibility of making sure I went to all the right places and spoke to the right people to complete my change of station, a sequence of events we called “inprocessing.” After a long day of inprocessing, he took us to a restaurant just outside the front gate called Noodle House Marumiya but known to practically all the Americans as Cheese Roll Noodle.

It was a tiny shop, just a counter with maybe half a dozen chairs, and five or six small tables along the wall. Everyone in the kitchen called out “Irasshaimase!” as we walked in. We followed my sponsor to the biggest table in the back of the room.

“Order whatever you like,” he told us as we sat down. “Dinner’s on me.”

“What’s good here?” I asked.

He smiled. “Everything’s good here.”

He wasn’t kidding. I don’t recall what I had that first night, but I do remember that in the five years I was stationed at Misawa, we went back to Marumiya over and over again. Not only did they serve delicious food, it was also a cozy, familiar place to visit. It quickly became our favorite place to go for every special occasion, or for when we craved comfort food, or when we couldn’t think of another place for dinner.

In all that time I can confidently say I ate everything on their menu. Nothing they served ever disappointed me. I relished every meal, but I had a special fondness for their ramen bowl with shrimp. It was a big bellyful of warmth and tasty goodness. I nearly always ordered a side of pork gyoza to go with it, crispy on the outside, savory on the inside. It was honestly the most satisfying food I have every enjoyed.

never the twain

While on a road trip last week we stopped in Kansas City and this statue was just a block from our hotel. I would have kicked myself for the rest of my life if I hadn’t taken this photo.

old school

Photo of the author wearing the olive-drab fatigue jacket he was issued when he joined the Air Force in 1984.

I snapped a photo of the BDU jacket in the background that’s draped over the dining room chair, because I noticed the handle of a hammer I had been searching for, and posted the photo to the group chat my coworkers use with the comment, “I looked everywhere for that hammer.”

My coworker Sandra, who had more recently been in the Air Force too, responded: “Wow, look at the old-school field jacket!”

Okay, wow. I bought that camouflage field jacket when camouflage field jackets were new to the Air Force, many years after I first enlisted. If she thought it was ‘old school,’ she must have enlisted much later than I thought.

So I took a photo of me in the field jacket I was originally issued when I joined up in 1984 and posted it to the group chat, to see what they thought of my REAL ‘old-school’ fatigue jacket. They responded with a photo of Alan Alda playing the role of Hawkeye Pierce in the television series M*A*S*H, a great show but the Korean War was a little before my time.

dead rabbit

My Mom told me this is a photo of her and Dad before they were married. They’re on a date. So this is a photo of what they did when they were on a date together, because this is Wisconsin in the 1950s.

Mom and Dad on a date, with a dead rabbit. This is Wisconsin.

My mom, holding a dead rabbit, while my dad looks on.

I’ve asked her. She doesn’t know why.

Edit: I asked again. Mom told me this photo was taken at a bar in Algoma, Wisconsin, where the proprietor, a woman named Angie, was known for her skill at cooking game, so if you had shot a mess of rabbits on a recent hunting trip and you knew Angie, you could take them to her and ask her to prepare them for you.


It’s a long drive from Our Little Red House to Kansas City. Arrived about six, took long long showers, went out for a late dinner, turned in late (for us — about ten).

Slept in, woke to a beautifully sunny morning. Freshened up, had a leisurely breakfast while we made plans for a day of strolling in the city to see the sights. Went back up to our room to get our things.

I came out of the bathroom to find B sitting in the dark. “Why’s it so dark?” I asked, just before I noticed the rain pouring down and heard thunder booming overhead.

“How do you like your vacation so far?” B asked with a smirk.

The rain was coming down so heavily we had to wait in our room until about noon for the storm to let up enough for us to go out without getting drenched. There was a brief lull at about ten-thirty when we thought maybe we could make it to a nearby streetcar but in the short time it took us to get down to the lobby the downpour intensified and the street was awash in rainwater when we got to the door.

It was still raining at noon but not as heavily as before, and we were so antsy by then that we didn’t mind the idea of getting a little wet, so we went down to the street and splashed a couple blocks to catch the streetcar, which we rode to the city market. The clouds were breaking up by the time we got there and though they tried feebly to spit a few last drops of rain at us, we had a pretty nice afternoon to explore the city.

sea lion

I phoned in an order for breakfast sandwiches and gave my middle name as “Leo” because when I give my first name “Dave” it always gets mangled to “Damien” or “Devon”. They almost always get “Leo” right, although this is the first time they mangled it all the way to “Ci Lion” (which she pronounced “sea lion”).


I may have lost my taste for movies like “Nobody,” the latest John Wick-like film about a bulletproof assassin who messily kills every baddie in the movie, even when they come at him all at once, guns blazing. The one versus many idea seemed entertaining when it was new but, in this movie at least, it feels like a worn-out schtick. Even when it tried to pass itself off as comedy it felt tired and cliched. And the big finish was practically phoned in. C- would not recommend.

Dinner at Morris Ramen

A hot bowl of ramen is a dinner I will almost always say yes to, so when My Darling B suggested we drive into town yesterday afternoon for ramen I instantly agreed, and off we went.

If you were to ask me for the best place in town to get ramen right now, I would point you to Morris Ramen on King Street, a little mom and pop shop with a lot of character to go with the delicious food.


“Poop” is the common term we all know, I think, for number two. “Dookie” also seems to be well-known but less commonly used, at least in my experience, which is too bad because I like the sound of “dookie” way more than “poop.” I’ve learned lots of other terms but the one I’ve never heard anybody else use ever is “crumpie,” the word I used when I was just a wee lad.

For many years I assumed it was a German word, or possibly from one of the Slavic languages, because my parents frequently peppered their conversation with foreign words and sometimes whole phrases they picked up from their parents. The longer I lived, though, the less I thought that was the case because in the course of being force-fed Russian while I was in the military I also picked up a smattering of slang and a few obscenities from other Slavic languages and I never heard them use a term that sounded remotely like “crumpie.” And although I never seriously studied German I have searched every German dictionary I ever got my hands on and never found a word for poop that looked or sounded like “crumpie.”

So one day (back when my dad was still alive, so this would have been more than twenty years ago) I asked my parents where “crumpie” came from — turns out it was me! It’s a word I just made up out of thin air, and they went along with it. And suddenly the reason I never heard anyone else ever use that word became clear.