I’ve been to the Gulf of Mexico beaches during peak summer months and attempted to eat at a restaurant like many other Southerners. I’ve endured the chaos, mind-numbing wait times in small confined places or outdoors in the humid, scorching heat. This is my confession as aggregated and exaggerated from many failed and successive dining experiences there…
I’ve waited 3 hours for a table.
I’ve heard the dreaded words as I gave the hostess my name: “It’s going to be a.. (long, dramatic pause)..3 hour wait.” Heart drops. Brow sweat ensues. “But I’m hungry, like, now.” echoes in my head.
I’ve dredged through the sea of hungry humanity as I found a place to stand or sit or squat or lie down and die because I’m so hangry. And wait.
I’ve seen the looks of hopelessness on the disparaged faces of other sun-burned Southerners. I feel like I can read their minds…
“How much longer?”
“Surely, any time now we’ll get called.”
“Is my shoe leather edible?”
“My toddler is a tiny, ferocious velociraptor right now due to lack of nourishment! Where’s the Goldfish?” (the cracker not sea creature)
I’ve identified with those self-imagined thoughts that I think others are having in their own heads…or whatever.
I’ve been at the end of the list. The last person on the clipboard that is filled with others who are tasked with waiting.
I’ve seen the pleasant, contented faces of those leaving the restaurant.
Their belly’s full, laughing heartily with their loved ones. Life is good. They are quite literally full of happiness from a hot, delicious meal and probably about to go putt-putt, go-kart or buy salt-water taffy from a massive souvenir/air-brush t-shirt store the size of an airplane hangar without a single care in the world.
I’ve smelled the fresh, hot bread sitting on the tables from the parking lot while I wrangle my rowdy kids, feebly biding time by counting the cars and cigarette butts for a change of scenery.
I’ve seen the looks. The evil eyes glancing my way as my electronic coaster vibrates and lights up like a flashing neon sign saying “The wait is over! You’re so special! You’re overpriced seafood dinner awaits you!”
I’ve rejoiced and celebrated all the way to the hostess desk! Moonwalking, ska-dancing and jazz-running all the way there!
I’ve been full. And it’s been worth it.
I’ve left the restaurant, passing by the others waiting in a silent, morbid type of restaurant purgatory.
I’ve seen other tiny, ferocious velociraptor-hangry toddlers throwing rocks at their parents and other patrons to pass the time during the wait.
It’s over. We came. We saw. We ate.