Thursday, November 1, 2012

Mealtime with William Least Heat Moon, Vol 1: Brenda

"…and inside hung an insurance agency calendar and another for an auto parts store. Also on the walls were the Gettysburg Address, Declaration of Independence, Pledge of Allegiance, a picture of a winged Jesus ushering two kids who belonged in a Little Rascals film, and the obligatory waterfall lithograph. The clincher: small, white, hexagonal floor tiles. Two old men, carrying their arms folded behind, stopped to greet each other with a light, feminine touching of fingertips, a gesture showing the duration of their friendship. I went in happy.
"I expected a grandmother, wiping her hands on a gingham apron, to come from the kitchen. Instead I got Brenda. Young , sullen, pink uniform, bottlecaps for eyes, handling her pad the way a cop does his citation book. The menu said all breakfasts came with grits, toast, and preserves. I ordered a breakfast of two eggs over easy. “Is that all you want?”
“Doesn’t it come with grits and so forth?”
“Does if you ast fort.”
"I want the complete, whole thing. Top to bottom.”
"She snapped the pad closed. I waited. I read the rest of the menu, the Gettysburg Address, made a quick run over the Pledge of Allegiance, read about famous American women on four sugar packets, read a matchbox and the imprints on the flatware. I was counting grains of rice in the saltshaker (this was  the South), when Brenda pushed a breakfast at me, the check slick with margarine and propped between slices of toast. The food was good and the sense of the place fine, but Brenda was destined for an interstate run-em-thru. Early in life she had developed the ability to make a customer wish he’d thrown up on himself rather than disturb her."

-from Blue Highways , by William Least Heat Moon

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