Friday, July 21, 2006

Idgie Remembers the Grilled Cheese

I was reading an article the other day about the death of the lunch counter. Ya'll remember Woolworth's and such?

Nothing better than going to town with Mama and buying a whole mess of doo-dads and then getting the giant treat of being told we'd stop at the lunch counter and eat before going home.

It was so exciting to a little girl!

A lunch counter at the drug store was nowhere as "fussy" as lunch in a restaurant. You simply wandered over with your purchases left in a pile behind you somewhere.. no one would ever touch them... and you climbed up on a spinny stool. From there you would start to spin like mad till you either fell off or felt your Mama's hand wop you in the head to slow you down.

Then the part where my Mama got annoyed. I never, ever, ever ordered anything but a grilled cheese sandwich, fries or chips, and a milkshake. Drove her mad. Why? Simply because Mama always felt that if you're spending the time, energy and money to eat out, even at a lunch counter... you should branch out a little and get something different.

Apparently I ate grilled cheese at home all the time. Mama was fond of homemade milkshakes so I had those too. Really, she couldn't make fries to save her life so I always argued those were different.

But I still so very fondly remember the spinning stool, the thrill of eating with the adults at a counter, the milk shake machines.... and all the way the busy ringing of the cash registers and the people talking and shopping behind me.

Mama and I use to eat at those until I was out of high school. My small town in Mississippi kept a Woolworth's open until the mid-80s, when it finally gave up the fight as one of those super stores moved in a few miles down the road.

Now, we go shop at Wal-mart for our doo-dads and drive-thru Chick-fil-a on the way home.

The magic is lost.