Had an experience last night…
Here it was, Valentine’s Day, and instead of treating my wife to a nice, fancy restaurant, I found myself sitting in Topsail Beach at 8:00 at night, knowing that there was no way I could get us back to the city in time to go to a “nice, fancy” restaurant.
As we pulled on to the main drag in Topsail I spied a place named “Batterson’s Seafood.” It was obviously still open; in fact, it was popping with people. So, pretending that I’d planned it all along, I said to my wife, “here’s where we’ll be dining on this special night!”
Whoa! What a trip!
As we walked in the door I was overwhelmed by the Ten Commandments. Seriously. They were mounted to the wall behind the cashier, in a scroll, eight feet tall and six feet wide! It engulfed the wall and made everything else seem small. Immediately below the Ten was a placard in stark white and blue that screamed “Topsail Chapel, Services: 10:30 a.m., Dress Casual.” Conveniently next to it was “We believe in God!” with an exclamation point. My honest impression was that they were going to want to see our church membership card.
We didn’t know if we were to wait to be seated or were to just sit down. No one was acknowledging our present (other than everyone in the joint who turned and were staring at us as we stood nakedly obvious in the middle of the room), so I asked the lady at the cash register if we were to seat outselves.
Wait a minute, I don’t know if we want you or not!
She yells to the kitchen, “got any more food?” and I hear a mumbled response. She turns and simply states:
The waitress comes up, throws two menus on the table, puts her hand on her hip, cocks her head to the left (all the while furiously chewing on a piece of gum) and just looks at us. Her name tag proclaimed her name as “Alice.”
I politely said we’d like to look at the menu for a few minutes and she lets out a “Fine! I just want to know what you’re gonna drink! And, don’t order the crabmelt sandwich!”
As Alice delivers our beverages, fearing if I don’t order she might hurt me, I proudly state we’re ready to order.
Well la-te-da! Why else would you come to a restaurant!
I ordered the crabmelt sandwich.
Here pencil stub, poised to write my request, literally froze in her hand inches above her order pad. She slowly lifts her head and turns her eyes towards me. Pauses. “I told you NOT to order the crabmelt!”
I’m honestly intrigued. “Why not?” I muster.
“Cause you cain’t eat it all!” she proclaims, as though I was daft.
“I cain’t, er, can’t eat it all?” That gets me a “didn’t I just say that” stare.
As though explaining to a three-year old, “Its way too rich! When I get it I can only eat a quarter of it. You just cain’t eat it all!”
“But I’d like to order it and try.”
Gum chewed furiously again, pencil still frozen over her pad, you could see the gears turning at high velocity behind that unblinking stare. I’d swear that our exchange had just taken place on the intercom and everyone in the restuarant had turned to see how this high adventure would play out.
“Whatever. Its your dime.” Pencil scratches two marks and she’s gone.
Food arrives with a “here ’tis.” My wife had ordered a clam chowder. “Its Manhattan stye, which means its got ‘tators and ‘mators and no white” per the description of our waitress. And it did. Just ‘tators and ‘mators. Period. I think they put the clams in for a few minutes for taste but then pulled them out. The ‘tators were “crunchy.”
I get a smirk, a “lets-see-what-you-do-with-this-big-boy” look.
I did the impossible. I ate it all.
As we paid our bill I do believe I received an approving look from Alice. I guess that makes me a man’s man… “I cain’t believe I ate the whole thang…”
As I write this, the next day, I think Alice was correct: I shouldn’t have ordered the crabmelt…