Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
A Serious Intro
Time: 7:30 pm
Date: Friday, Jan. 26
Place: Another fine restaurant on Restaurant Row, Tupelo, Miss.
Note: should have known to listen to the wife. The very minute we
walked in, I heard that bland throw-back to Muzak. Elevator music.
Owners installed the music to keep my mind off of the very limited
When You Reach
40, everything that you value as holy and good somehow changes. Even best friends turn on your like hungry sled dogs living in Seavey's IdidaRide Sled Dog Tours, Alaska. My teachers in high school prophesied that in so many years, things would change when I hit 40. Well, it did. And I hate it. You have just read this introduction to another mundane piece dedicated to better narratives in Men Past 50. Thanks, Kenneth.
I sat quietly as Pam, my wife of 43 years, built her salad at this restaurant's salad bar that boasted of having more than 44 different salad fixings. I was in a drowsy mood. I had only ate a light lunch and when I abuse eating right and healthy, I get drowsy. Last week I got Dopey, but the authorities rescued him. I get this way when I am craving good, old-fashioned Pork Chops, lean, if you don't mind. With a Baked Potato, Slice of Dill Pickle on the side with Iced Tea. I had $50 in my pocket, so I threw caution to the wind. My power bill could wait.
Many times my wife and I have dined-out, and although this sounds boastful, believe me, I'm not. Anytime where I can get an interesting commentary out of the deal, count me in. This dining experience was going okay all except the lack of service and the fake Muzak music skipping in the background. Not a good place to film an episode of Mannix.
I needed some sort of event, diversion, or some well-educated stranger whom I could talk with while our dinner was being prepared. No dice. I tried, but every person whom I opened the door to talk about the weather, slammed my door shut with a you ain't wrong leaving me feeling very ignorant. No harm done. I sipped my black coffee and persevered.
A Lesson on How to Detect a Waitress Who Hates her Job:
Look nonchalant--directly into her eyes. Plaster a half grin and say, "you really don't want to be here. Am I right?"
Instantly, she will smile that devilish smile when she knows right off the bat that she is like me--ready for something to happen and not have to pay for it. One of those.
Sadly, our waitress, "Cheryl," was more than professional and knew the menu like a book. But I could tell by "that" look in her eyes that she had something planned for after her shift was finished. I tested my personal theory (above) and it worked like a charm. Here's the proof:
Me: "I'll bet, 'Cheryl,' by the look in your eyes and on your face that you have a heavy date later tonight."
"Cheryl": "Wow! How did you, just, uhhhh, know? Did you guess that? Are you, uhhhh, one of, uhhhhh, those palm readers?"
I've made my point.
So with that little bit of verbal shenanigans, I had myself a brand new Mental Game that I didn't pay one cent to enjoy and even with my wife, Pam, who had returned with a scrumptious, garden-fresh salad, asked, "something funny?" But before I could explain, she told me to just sit there and be quiet--she had been down this road before.
This new Mental Game that I had just designed, I called Name That Background and unlike those hit game shows in the mid to late 50s, (e.g. To Tell The Truth, What's My Line), I am the game's emcee and only contestant. The game is so easy that I could pass the application for appearing if this game were a game show.
How do I play? I just sit and gaze unpretentiously at the cafe door and watch for customers to enter or exit if I haven't spied them. And the point of (this commentary) and game is for me to guess the background of the customers just by looking at their faces. It's fun and easy how I determine their background: I give them some mumbo jumbo about me taking a survey about something that "sounds" realistic and never crack a smile. Anyone can play.
Pam was giving me the time of day. She was busy enjoying her salad. (right now, you are just eaten up with curiosity about the name of this restaurant--maybe later.) I took another two sips of my coffee and had almost forgotten my new game when a middle-aged man and his wife (also middle-aged) came through the door. It was now or never.
"Sir, I am taking a City of Tupelo Survey on What Type of Background a Customer Has and do you care if I guess?" The coast was clear. Neither "Cheryl" or the cafe's manager was anywhere to be seen, so I continued. "Sir, your background is that of you own your construction company?" I said boldly. The man grinned and laughed. "Haw! Yeah, how did you do that?" he said. "I'm gifted," I said and pretended to write his answer on a napkin. I know that you are thinking that I knew this man and his company logo on his sports shirt. No to both of your foolish suspicions.
I had almost sat completely down when a guy in his 20s strolled through the door and this was my signal to do my bit about surveys on him.
"Sir, I am taking a City of Tupelo Customer Survey to find out your background, so if you don't care, may I guess your background?" I said very seriously.
The guy nodded and I said, "you have the background of being a Grad Student," and waited for the guy to answer.
"Haw! Man, you are so sharp. I study at the University of Mississippi. My girlfriend lives here in Tupelo. Nice going, man," the guy said.
I was almost euphoric as I sat down at my table. Pam had taken a bite of her salad and then said, "what's up, Kenny . . .hold it! Don't ask. Just sit there and be quiet." Do I know my wife or what? Now I was seriously-worried about my Pork Chop Dinner that was now almost an hour in coming. My stomach was growling worse than a grizzly who some jerk woke him up too early.
"Cheryl," danced to our table. Smiled and said, "Sir, your order will be a little bit longer. Sorry. We had a cook to quit ten minutes ago," she said so innocently and I did not want to be the cause of her not getting to her heavy date, so I smiled and sat back down.
Pam was having one more great time. I could tell. Funny. She never bothered to ask me if I were hungry or what happened to my pork chops? I respected her choice of just eating and not showing me any pity.
Uh, oh! Time for another contestant. My score now was Me: 2 and Contestants 0. I was hot right now. Hard to beat someone who was in a roll.
A guy about the same age as the grad student walked through the door--looking to the right and left and sweating like he had been mowing grass with a walk-behind lawnmower. I felt nervous. The first two contestants were laid-back, friendly, but not this guy. But I was in too deep. I had my trusty pen and ready for action.
"Sir, I am taking a City of Tupelo Survey on your background to check and see about people's background. It's free and has only one guess by yours truly, so do you mind?" I asked smiling like a jackass eating another farmer's corn.
The guy halfway started to laugh. Then he smiled and nodded in agreement. "Sir, my guess is that you are a cook in a big cafe somewhere in our city. Am I right?" I said.
"Are you kidding me? I used to work here! You must have that EPS stuff," the guy said.
"Oh, this is a bonus question: you used to cook across town over there at IHop. Am I right?" I said hoping that I would be correct.
The guy grizzled up and glared at me.
"H--l no! I don't work nowhere anymore!" he said almost yelling.
"Uhhh, errr, well, sorry. May I ask where you "formerly" worked?" I said with my voice shaking. This guy was muscular, friends.
"I worked HERE on up until half hour ago!" he said and stormed back toward the kitchen. "and then I got fired!"
Final Score: Me 3, Contestants 0. Game over.
Part of me felt bad for my last contestant who had lost his job and the other half was proud that he hadn't punched out my lights.
"Cheryl," was now sitting down my platter of good, old-fashioned pork chops, baked potato and iced tea. I was famished.
"Cheryl," softly said, "heyyy, I saw you talking to that former employee who came in here a few minutes ago. What was he talking about?"
Pam took another bite of her delicious salad and said, "what's going on, Kenneth? What former employee?"
"Shhhh! Nothing, dear. Thanks, 'Cheryl.'"
Pam, you need to learn how to mind your own business.
Note: to keep me from naming the name of this restaurant, I am going to name it by giving you a cute clue and the rest is up to you.
The name has a Fruit in the first of the restaurant name and an insect that produces honey at the end.
And if you are wondering, is the restaurant name: "Fruit of The Loom with Bees?" Are you serious?
© 2018 Kenneth Avery