Thursday, November 17, 2005

With or Without

We moved to Raleigh in August of one year. It was hot and the humidity high. My confusion level was on high as well. I am not the best navigator in this world. Okay – clueless would probably describe my abilities to “find my way home.” I do a lot of sightseeing – if you know what I mean.

Nevertheless, on that particular day back in the ‘70’s, I was fed up with trying to figure out the beltway around the city. I was also hungry. I finally determined to stop going around in circles and picked an exit. When you are lost what does it matter which exit you pick – except that it has a sign for food? Right. I might have been lost, but my priorities were still on target!

I pulled into a little local diner along side the road. That was an unusual step for me. Normally, I try to hang out at the “familiar” joints – like Mickie Dees with the arches. I am not an extremely adventurous person and I feel safe with what I know.

Anyway, on this particular day I found myself pulling up into a gravel parking lot. Name of the place escapes me. A local place - with not a lot on atmosphere but chances are they’ve got great food. You know the kind I mean. All towns have them somewhere. There’s a handwritten sign with the day’s offerings on it, the truck drivers are sitting at the counter, and the booths used to have those little jukeboxes. Maybe all those thoughts are what pulled on me like a magnet. Dad and I went to a place named “Kurt’s” every now and then. Kurt made the best curly fries you ever tasted. He’d take (what today would be the equivalent of a small pizza box) and fill it to over-flowing with his delicious goodies. He’d slather those hot greasy fries with enough salt to raise your blood pressure a few points. Dad said he made a mean bowl of chili too. It might have been those fond memories that made me break my normal habit – I don’t know.

However, the minute I walked in the door I knew I wasn’t in South Buffalo anymore. I must have looked like the deer caught….. – well - you get the point. I had stumbled into a world of unfamiliar cuisine. I glanced at that board and knew I didn’t have time to try to figure out what some of those words meant because there were a line of people right behind me waiting to be served.

“Hey – dear!”

I looked up at the smiling, welcoming face and wondered if my features were giving away my “…in the headlights” feeling. Was she offering me hay? I didn’t think so.


I didn’t feel like sounding like a two-year-old asking endlessly -“What’s that?” So I garbled out that I’d like a burger and fries. I mean – what can go wrong with that good old standard?

“With or without?”

Again, rather than risk sounding like an idiot. I said – with. I ordered some ice tea to drink. The good manners my mother raised me with stopped me from spitting it out of my mouth. I just had gotten a swig of my first sweet tea. (drink it all the time now) However, I know my mouth dropped open when my burger showed up with green stuff piled high on it. “With” equals coleslaw on burger. The beltway suddenly appeared a safer place.

Written by Lillium