Sunday afternoon, we ate lunch at Tee-Jaye’s Country Restaurant on High Street in Columbus, Ohio. I was glad that the windows were flanked by blue gingham curtains and mellow country music blended in with angry voices of waitresses. The sign at the door said Howdy, Please wait to be seated: a true country restaurant. I mean, as true as it could get in Ohio anyway.
Over my grilled cheese, I was lost in twangy reverie: I don’t mind country music when I’m eating at greasy spoon-type joints or country-style restaurants that swear their food is true home cookin’. In fact, I expect it. That dumb Keith Urban song (“Take your cat but leave my sweater” or whatever) came on and I had a slight moment.
It passed efficiently though.
After scoring two free oatmeal cookies on the way out, there were three women behind us: a young Indian girl in a sari, an elderly black woman with white bushy hair and a cane, and some other broad that I didn’t pay any particular attention to. Basically, it was the set up to a really bad joke. We had to pass through two sets of doors to reach the lot. I held the first door open for them, waiting impatiently for all three to enter the tiny vestibule in front of the restaurant so that I could release the door and leave. But the way they entered, they all crowded in, pushing me back and pinning me against the wall. I nearly freaked out but held it together long enough to shimmy through their unmoving road block and pull open the final door to freedom.
Unfortunately, I got roped into holding that one open for them too, else it would have slammed into the Indian girl’s face. The elderly black woman, upon crossing the threshold, smiled at me brightly and in a contagiously friendly voice she exclaimed, “Well thank you again! Aren’t you just so nice!” I blushed and innocently returned her smile. Once their group had safely emerged into the parking lot, I caught up with Henry and Chooch.
“Did you hear that?” I bragged. “She said I was nice!” I think I added a string of other adjectives too, like “brave” and “sweet” and “warrior-like.”
“She’s delusional,” Henry mumbled, strapping Chooch into the car seat.
That night at the hotel, I called Christina and was dramatically recounting the scene for her. “The old lady was so cool, but that Indian freaked me out. Her eyes were like, dead. And chilling. She just kept staring straight ahead. And she walked really slow too. She wasn’t even going to bother to hold the door for herself. She was fucking weird.”
Henry, unable to listen to any more, interrupted. “She was retarded, you idiot.”