One of my favorite things about the South is how it is blessed with so many country restaurants. I’ll take a good ol’ country kitchen any day over some hoity-toity five-star joint. It makes me nervous to eat when there’s a herd of servers in white jackets hovering around you, ready to scrape away your crumbs before they even hit the table.
No, I much prefer to be served by a down-home gal wearing an apron with her name embroidered on it, even though I would never address her by it. I tried that once. When the girl came and asked me what I wanted to drink, I took a look at her apron and said with a big smile, “Hi, Annette!”
“My name’s not Annette, it Nancy,” she answered.
I pointed to the name on her apron. “Oh, that,” she replied. “I’m new here, and I don’t have my own personal apron yet. Annette quit last week, so I’m using hers in the meantime.”
Mixed up names aren’t limited to the wait staff, either. My favorite menu item at a country restaurant is Chicken Fried Steak—a dish that does not, in fact, contain any chicken. One of the burning questions of our time is why they call it chicken as opposed to some other animal. Why not, for instance, “Porcupine Fried Steak?”
Another great thing about country restaurants is how they always serve you way more than you can eat in one sitting. Halfway through the meal, I often find myself plotting strategy about how I’m going to finish. I think, “I know I can’t eat all of this, so what parts of this meal should I give priority to? The steak fries and green beans will have to give way if I’m to get through the meat.”
Strange things can happen sometimes when you’re eating out, and at a country restaurant those things are less of big deal. For instance, once while dining with a friend, I unconsciously started humming a song that was in my head. If you’ve ever heard me sing, you wouldn’t be surprised at how this produced a reverberation that caused a picture hanging on the wall to come off its hanger and drop right onto my companion. Amazingly, the picture was undamaged, and he only needed a Band-Aid for a small cut on his finger. I wished that car companies would make their products as rugged.
I have to be careful when I’m eating at a country restaurant, where they have all of these large, sharp farm implements hanging on the wall. At the place where the picture incident occurred, the hostess is always careful to seat me in the exact center of the room, away from any walls.
There are some times where my unique talent might come in handy. I recall one specific instance where a man was seated at the table next to me, talking on his cell phone at a volume that was maybe just shy of a jet engine. Certain that I wasn’t the only one to be distracted by him, I looked his way and noticed, directly above his table, a gigantic scythe suspended from the ceiling like the Sword of Damocles.
Although I resisted the temptation, I’m sure that a few bars of “Dixie” at that particular moment would have got me a standing ovation.