I am doing the A-Z challenge; today’s letter is R for restaurant.
Restaurants Are Us
I was twelve years old before I ever ate a meal at a restaurant. I was invited to Coffee Dan’s, by a classmate, whose dad took us all out for lunch. It was an incredible experience, and it paved the way for many more like it. Prior to this occasion, my only experience with eating out, was to trek a half-hour from home, plunk down fifteen cents for a burger, a dime for fries, and a nickel for a coke at McDonald’s. Of course, this was in the late fifties/early sixties, when the sign outside of Mickey D’s still read, something million burgers sold.
In the last thirty years, I have been to McDog’s outfit twice: once on Highway Five, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and once in Willits, where I ordered a portion of “chicken arrangements,” not having the wherewithal-or the desire, to order them by their given name. Besides, I was so embarrassed, that someone I knew would see me at this establishment, I was hunkered down in my seat in the car, and mumbling somewhat incoherently. My sons thought it quite comical.
All of the years I taught, Annie and I rarely made it to restaurants, the exceptions being our once-a-month trip to the Laytonville Inn, on payday evening (pay-evening?), and our twice-a-year sojourns up to Eureka, which began in 1985, and have continued ever since, though now more frequently than twice a year.
The fascinating thing to me, is how much these restaurant visits have changed in the past few years. It used to be that it seemed I had the worst of luck, when it came to both service, and quality of food. I remember once, walking into Mazzotti’s, an Italian place in Eureka, and waiting to be assigned a table. And waiting, and waiting, until Annie and I both decided to get the heck pout of there, our logic being that if it took this long just to be seated, it would be an eternity before we actually saw a meal in front of us.
It used to seem as though every time I ordered, they messed it up. When I was not eating meat or dairy products, I would always get bacon in my omelet, or cheese over my hash-browns. Then great unhappiness would abound. If I ordered regular fries, I would get the zesty kind. I could not win for losing. I was very cautious when it came to trying new places, preferring to go where I was comfortable, and where I had experienced goodness in the past.
Now, it is a whole new ballgame. I am not sure when the transformation began, but I assume it was after I rid myself of panic-attack syndrome. I used to have anxiety issues, and it must have been reflected in my face. I expected something to go amiss, and I was rarely disappointed. A self-fulfilling prophecy, if ever there was one.
Now I enter the restaurant of choice, beaming happily at the thought of scrumptious cuisine (and at the thought of no washing dishes) , and I am never disappointed. Or if something does go amiss, I am more than happy to either overlook it, or ignore it completely-just pretend it didn’t happen. Again, the self-fulfilling prophecy is in always in effect. We get superior service and the food is always on target.
We do not do the dinner thing that much, except in Eureka, but we do lunch a lot, because of all the appointments down in Ukiah, and we do breakfast much more than we used to, because of Ardella’s. Ardella’s is this little place in Willits, that serves the best breakfasts in the county, with pleasant wait-people, and food that can’t be beat. The best thing is that we end up walking past it, every morning that we walk, because it is on the 101, and that just happens to be the way our route takes us. Otherwise, in Willits, the only other viable restaurants all serve Mexican food. The first of these, which opened more than twenty years ago, is also on the 101, and we used to patronize it regularly. Then, over the course of time, others began opening up, until now there are five. We have settled on one, almost right across the street from that original one, called El Taco Rio Brava, and we like it a lot, because it has authentic cuisine, rather than food for the gringos.
We don’t do dessert, and we don’t do alcohol, unless we are within walking distance of our motel in Eureka, so it is not that terribly expensive. But it is an enjoyable diversion from the day-to-day need to eat three squares a day. We have had great success at such mundane eateries as Denny’s and we have had great success at more fancy establishments as Seamus T. Bones, in Eureka. Call me easy-to-please; call me what-you-will; just call me in time for dinner!