Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Carrollton Dinner & Betty...The Hot Potato

Recently I had lunch at the Carrollton Diner. Yes, the Carrollton Diner. Never heard of it? Well you're not alone, neither has most of Carrollton, or by extension, most of the world. It is home to the best chicken noodle soup in the world and cakes the size of small end tables.

Before I get into the diner, I guess I should explain a little about Carrollton. In order to be considered "backwards", Carrollton would still need to take 3 steps forward. It is a place that hasn't been discovered yet, and frankly, that is just fine with most of the inhabitants. Despite society slowly making its way in and invading the town, the locals are resisting change with every fiber of their being. Town attractions include the jail, AppleBee's and the live auction barn. Recently, a big cross standing approximately 200ft high was erected to, well I'll say "welcome you" to town, but it actually tends to serve more as a warning: We are God fearing and if you don't believe in God, and do not have a confederate flag located somewhere on your Ford pick-up truck, we will not hesitate to crucify you. See, we already have the big cross.

When I say "we," I of course do not mean "me," as I am a Northerner and the whole Southern hospitality thing seemed to skip most of Carrollton. It is all very Hatfields vs McCoys, insiders vs ousiders, Marsha vs Greg over who has rights to the attic. I lived here 3 years before my first neighbor, Gloria, ever spoke to me. When she did, she informed me that she was from Chicago, lived here for 15 years, and well, no one would speak to her either. She also told me that all of the neighbors...the ones that don't speak to her, assumed that my now-ex husband and I were drug dealers because we came in, put up a 3 board style fence and have "all of those attack dogs."

The attack dogs she is referring to are 5 white fluffballs called American Eskimos that stand almost knee high. Not only are they not attack dogs, but if you actually came onto my property, the only threat you would face would be if they licked you to death and, if you happen to have a cookie on you and wanted to share it with them, they would probably take you right into the house and show you where the valuables were. Still, I decided to withhold this piece of information from Gloria, who I'm pretty certain didn't tell me the drug dealer remark to help explain why no one was speaking to us, but more to see if she could score some good reefer. I figured, let the neighbors think we are drug dealers. No one will ever complain about my grass being too long or my dogs barking.

Now that you have a little idea about Carrollton, let's go back to the diner. The diner popped up about 3 months ago in a location that has changed hands at least 500 times. It is hard for a business to make it in Carrollton because the locals, for the most part, won't even try it. The owners will therefore, do anything to get someone's business. When I first went to the diner, I noticed a sign posted that read: Per Popular Request, We Are Now Open 24HRS.

Popular request means some no teeth having, overall wearing guy named Earl came in one night and said through tobacco chew filled gums, "Eh, how come y'all ain't open 24 hours?" And, like a genie in a lamp, the owners granted Earl's wish and now they are. It seems Earl, thinking he has influence, told all of his friends about the diner because when I went there for the first time, it was packed.

The place was set up like a real diner, with booths, a counter you could eat at and glass cabinets displaying desserts that made my thighs grow two sizes just by looking at them. The owner spotted me, and fearing I had been in the door for 2 full seconds with out being spoken to, hurdled a table and came to greet me.

"How many?" he inquired, happy a new customer was trying the place.

"Just 1," I replied, as he gave me the awwww, I'm sorry you have no husband and no friends look and seated me at a booth set up for 6. Obviously, he saw me eyeing the cakes and assumed I would need a lot of room, that or he too could see my imaginary friend entourage.

The waitress came and took my order, then I sat quietly trying to figure out something to do. Usually, I bring a magazine or something, but today, eating was a spur of the moment idea, so I was empty handed. I glanced around the diner and began to eavesdrop as I heard the women in the booth across from me speaking to the waitress.

There were 3 of them. Two white, one black. Each was at least 150 years old if they were a day, and all were clearly locals. They were dressed in their finest for lunch. Two wore hats, all wore pearls. Clearly, they had been friends from the time they were old enough to carve their first hieroglyphics on the cave wall. They couldn't have been any cuter.

They asked the waitress about the desserts, even though they hadn't ordered their food yet, and in their little, old lady sweet crackling voices said, "Oh, isn't that lovely?" as the waitress described them. The waitress proceeded to take their order, then made her way to the kitchen.

The older black lady, that beared a remarkable resemblence to Aunt Esther from Sanford & Son, sat back, her voice strong and opinionated, " So... I'm just sayin'," she went on as if they were in mid-conversation, "she was all up in our grill, but now that she got a man..." she trailed off, then started again.

" And poor Betty. She just dropped poor Betty like a hot potato. She was all up in Betty's grill. But since she got herself a man, she can't be bothered with poor Betty."

"Mmmmmm-hmmmm" the other two women agreed, one reminded me of Bea Arthur with her large frame and almost manly mannerisms, the other waved her E.T. like finger at Aunt Esther."

"You just know..." Aunt Esther stopped and put a smile on her bulldog like face as the waitress approached the table and placed their meals in front of them.

"Oh, this looks lovely. Everything just looks so wonderful, " she commented once again in her crackly, old lady voice as she smiled at the server.

"Yes...but where is the bread?" Bea Arthur's twin inquired, her voice also quite weak and barely audible.

"Bread?" the waitress asked making sure she understood the whispered words. "It doesn't come with bread, but I can get you some, if you like?"

"Oh, yes please, that would be so kind of you," Bea commented gently placing her frail hand on the waitress' wrist and using what looked like all of her day's energy to smile. The waitress hurried away to oblige the request, pleased she could make the old woman happy.

"What the hell is that?" the Golden Girl remarked to her friends with the same intensity and strength in her voice that Esther had displayed when speaking about poor Betty. "Who doesn't serve bread with a meal. I mean, what is that?"

"I know. I know," the other two chimed in disgruntled agreement.

The waitress returned with the bread and the woman accepted it with a weak, muffled, "Thank you," then gave the waitress a dirty look and an aggravated laugh as she dipped her bread into her gravy. "So go on," she instructed Esther.

"I'm just sayin' she is going to be all up in Betty's grill again when that man dumps her. Dumpin' her like a hot potato. And if she thinks she is gonna be up in our grill again..." she wagged her foreboding finger at the women as she sat back in her seat and noticed me looking at them.

Realizing I had been watching them like a sitcom, I put my head down and pretended to play with my phone, which isn't an I-phone and does nothing but call people. I flagged the waitress down, got the check, paid and left. I was afraid if I didn't, I might be the next one on the town crucifix...if it wasn't currently being occupied by the "Betty dropper."

"Please come again," the owner yelled as I walked out the door.

Of course I will. Where else can you get lunch and entertainment like that for under $10? Although, maybe next time, I'll invite Betty since I couldn't help but notice for all of the outrage they had and complaining they were doing about the mystery woman, they failed to realize, no one had invited poor, dropped like a hot potato, Betty to lunch.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Me vs The Red Box

I have recently developed a love/hate relationship with the Red Box located at most Wal-Marts and 7-Elevens. When I was visiting a friend in Florida and he first introduced me to this awesome machine I thought, well, this rocks!

See, I am what most people would call a "movie freak." I am also what most people would call "poor" and "forgetful." This means I love movies, but I can't justify going to a theater and paying nine gazillion dollars for a ticket, plus popcorn, because you have to have popcorn, add a drink which brings the total up to approximately thirty gazillion dollars for what usually turns out to be a mediocre movie and two hours of my life I'll never get back.

They take credit right?

NetFlix is fine if you have time on your hands. Unfortunately, right now, I do not. If I do find myself with 2 free hours to kill and I choose not to sleep or save the world, how can I possibly predict what type of movie I'm going to want to watch at that particular moment in time? Will I be in the mood for a comedy, something suspenseful, or will I just want to stare mindlessly at the television while Johnny Depp or George Clooney grace my screen with their presence? Frankly, I'm not psychic and I don't appreciate the kind of pressure NetFlix inflicts.

I need the ability to pick up a movie when I want it and not for the crazy $5 a movie price tag Blockbuster charges. No $5 for five nights doesn't sound too bad, especially if you are renting it for more than one person. But as much as I would like to pretend that I am spending my evenings surrounded by friends, stimulating men, or even nice arm candy, the truth is, it's usually just for me. And being quite familiar with myself, I know that if you give me a movie for five days it becomes a non-priority and five days turns into fifteen. Soon I'm paying $15 for Failure to Launch when I could have bought the dang thing for $7 and to be honest, it just wasn't that good.

Enter: The Red Box. This wondrous machine fits my lifestyle to a "T." It is convenienly located, has the latest releases and only charges $1 per night. That's right. You heard..uh..read me: ONE DOLLAR. The clouds disappear. The sun shines. The angels sing.

...until I go to return the dang thing.

The instructions describe how to place the dvd into the jacket and insert the jacket into the Red Box. The dvd is then returned leaving you free to rent another movie or go along on your merry way. Sounds simple right?

Well, apparently, I am too stupid to do this. After watching a movie I was really glad I had only paid a dollar to see, I made my way up to the Red Box, pressed the "Return Movie" button, put the clear plastic jacket complete with the dvd into the machine and was about to go on my merry way when something went wrong. The machine spit the movie back out at me. WTH? I tried it again, but once again, it was rejected. I looked around trying to see if there was anyone that could help me. There wasn't. I pulled the silver disk from the container, made sure the bar code was facing the right way and that the disk was in the jacket correctly, then inserted it into the machine once again. And once again, it spit it back out at me.

"Is it broken?" I asked the man now standing behind me with his arms folded waiting to rent a movie. As soon as the words left my mouth, a little, blond-haired girl approximately six years of age, ignoring the line, skipped up to the machine, pressed the button, returned her dvd, smiled at me, then skipped over to her family and they continued on their merry way.

Little sh--, I couldn't help but think.

I took the dvd out once more, cleaned it, put it back in it's jacket and then finally...I let the man behind me rent his movie because the stupid machine still wouldn't accept mine! After he made his selection, I stepped up to the beast, gave it the evil eye, pushed the button and fed the red monster the movie as I cursed at it and called it's mother an unfortunate name or two.

Victory! This time it accepted the dvd placed in it's clear plastic jacketed home in the same exact manor I had placed it the other twelve times.

"That's what I thought," I said cockily as I walked away from the machine knowing I had won this battle. However, there was no skipping and I wasn't merry.

Will I use the Red Box again? Definitely. But I have resounded myself to the fact that it will cost me $2 when I want to watch a movie. One for the rental fee and one to pay the little sh..uh..girl to return the dang thing for me.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

After Wife

Why After Wife?

Well, I am recently divorced and therefore most of my blogs will consist of things done after I was a wife. Don't worry, I'm not going to get all sappy and sentimental and talk about how my ex sucks or how I wish I had him back. Neither is true. Besides, it isn't my style.

However, I do find myself being in the odd, yet very common position of being newly single and having to decide what the hell I'm going to do with my life now. Yes, sorry to say the vision I had of white picket fences and 2.5 kids didn't quite pan out. Although to be honest, my vision was more like a contemporay house near the beach with a couple of dogs running around. Besides, who ever heard of .5 of a kid? Still I digress.

This is the second time my life has done a complete 180, which in theory, should now bring me back to where I originally started. When I was 20, I was in a car accident that left me barely able to read or look at a computer. Once on the Dean's list, I was forced to drop out of school and quit work. Suddenly, the intelligent, former Miss Teen All American Semi Finalist that had the world by the butt had been reduced to a life that consisted of surgeries and living on my parents' couch. But, like a good little girl, I overcame. I pulled myself out of the hole, found a new life, with new dreams, and eventually a new husband.

Um yeah, about that...

So, here I am. Only I'm not 20 years old, living with mom and dad (thank God for that), and able to run around with my single friends. No, my single friends are all married.

Now, I'm living in Georgia, being hit on by men that are either married (ewww), old enough to be my father (even more ewwwwwww), or are so young that I am not certain if they are trying to pick me up because they think I'm hot or because they want me to buy them beer.

That said, my blog will consist of a number of things ranging from the mobile vet that recently texted me after getting my phone number off the contact sheet I filled out when my dog got his shots - Seriously, you drive around in a mobilized operating room. Doesn't that just scream modern day Jack The Ripper? -to the furry, moldy, angry looking cheese I found behind the veggie drawer in the bottom of my refrigerator that I am certain is trying to recruit the other cheeses and plot a takeover.

It is my hopes that sometimes my blog will make you laugh. Sometimes it will make you think. But it will always make you realize, you are not alone and someone out there is going through the same craziness that you are...maybe even more so.