On needing a Number 77 fix: words of a Noodle House junkie

On EDGE: Opinion

Peter Sheldon

I spend all my money at the Noodle House.

This is not an advertisement. It is a confessional (disguised as a threat). Eat at the Noodle House. Pack up your bag, stuff this magazine into your back pocket and just start moving along Franklin. Get there, get there as fast as you can, and pick this story up when you get there. If you don’t, you may as well flip the page now, or pass this magazine to a friend, or just stuff yourself into the trunk of the closest automobile, and get someone to just drive out of this town because I can’t have you reading this right now.

I’m sweating. My head hurts. I need to go to the Noodle House. I really shouldn’t. I’m at the Noodle House. I can’t help it; I’m under a spell. I order the same thing every time, Number 77. I don’t even need to open the menu and I can tell you what’s in it: some delicious new opaque vegetable, carrots, lettuce, thin cucumber slices, peanuts, those pink round-looking sausage things, charred mystery meat slices, four shrimp coated in some sort of heavenly sauce, two spring rolls chopped into little bite-sized cylinders, all on a bed of noodles that are cooked exactly the same every single time, and they give you a little dippin’ jar that I just pour over top of everything. I’m not sure that’s even what you’re supposed to do with it, but that’s what I’m doing. I’m just pouring that thing and squirting some hot sauce and watered down hoisin sauce so it looks like a friendly lava flow along the edge of the bowl, then putting a dot on every bite – like an exclamation mark — that makes me sweat a little, but not too much, but just enough.

And you better not talk to me while I’m doing it because I’m only half listening. “Peter, we’re going in a new direction with this story,” or, “Peter, I’m pregnant,” or, “Peter, your hair is on fire,” and I’m just burnin’ up because the Noodle House is delicious!

And could there be a better building in town? A log cabin with a garden of plastic flowers and, until recently, its very own disco ball? And a proprietor who cuts ice cubes with a mallet when his ice machine is on the fritz, making each glass of water a mini-science experiment on icebergs. This place is like a warm pair of old sneakers, or your brother, or some sort of growth sticking out the side of your hip. It’s a part of you. And you don’t get it cut off, you just learn to sit on one cheek by the window, making sure you don’t get a parking ticket and life is OK, because you’ve selected two straight chopsticks, and there’s always plenty of napkins sitting there, and when you pay the cheque there is a bejeweled frog with a loony in his mouth, and that frog is just a funny-looking frog to look at while you’re tipping 20 per cent and not even asking the guy behind the counter his name.

Because you’re beyond names by this point, you’re just smiling and giving him money because he didn’t even bring you a menu when you sat down, he just smiled and said, “77?” And you thought that was the coolest thing in the world.

When people tell you they haven’t been to the Noodle House in a few weeks, you burst into tears. When someone suggests packing your own lunch, you punch him in the face. I’m sick. I’m going to spend 14 more dollars. I’m not even supposed to be here right now. I said I’d buy groceries, but I need noooooodles!

Peter Sheldon is a writer, philosopher, and faithful producer for the public broadcaster. He’s recently returned to Yellowknife after three years living and working in Iqaluit. He’s happy to see trees again, but misses the long view.  If you are reading this at the Noodle House, he’s the guy by the window in the maroon parka, which only has half a fur ruff because his dog Blue chewed it apart.

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