Footprints in the Sand, or Deja Vu at the IHOP

Now Playing: Old Folk’s Boogie, by Little Feat. “And you know that you’re over the hill , When your mind makes a promise that your body can’t fill, Doin’ the old folks boogie, And boogie we will, ‘Cause to us the thought’s as good as a thrill.”

I’m writing this Sunday night, because we’ll be headed to the beach this morning for a few days. We like all beaches, but we’ve lately been partial to Ocean Isle Beach. What’s there? Not much of nuthin’ – and I love it. We’ll soak up the rays. Swim, read – I’m taking the first two books in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, I’ve heard great things about them – and we’ll of course eat. And Eat. And EAT.

Which brings to mind a story from the last time we were at Ocean Isle, which I think was during a weekend in 2007.

On Saturday night, we decided to go to a restaurant we really liked in Carolina Beach. They had this huge platter of oysters and clams and crab legs and shrimp and stuff. It was always great. We got there, and it was going to be a long wait. No prob. We got one of the light-up thingees from the hostess and found a bench on the grounds. Hey, it was Saturday night. If the restaurant didn’t have a wait, that was probably a bad sign.

So while we were patient, others weren’t. In particular, a group near us.

(Before I go any further, I need to say a couple of things: Karen and I drink and cuss. More than we should. Karen and I drink and cuss around the boys. More than we should. We’re not prudes. Keep this in mind as you continue.)

One of the guys in the group was wearing a Carolina hat and t-shirt, so I noticed him off the bat. The other guys and girls had on assorted motorcycle-y gear. Some leathers, some t-shirts, jeans, boots. They’d been drinking. And they started bitching immediately – and loudly – about the wait. Carolina guy offered to go get them something from the bar while they waited. Unfortunately, it took him awhile. Which didn’t improve any of his friends’ attitudes. Especially the one I dubbed Willie Nelson. He was older than most of the group, and maybe looked a little rougher. His graying hair was in braids, and he was grizzled. He started cussing and griping and eventually one of his friends told him to pipe down because of the kids.

He’d stop for a bit, then get pissed again. Even when Carolina guy got back, he was mad.

A short while later, they decided to leave. As luck would have it, we were called almost immediately.

Sadly, the meal was only OK – nothing wrong with it, but it just wasn’t as good as we remembered.

But I think we might have gotten ice cream or frozen custard or something on the way back to the hotel at Ocean Isle. So it was all good. We were happy. It had been a good trip.

When we got up Sunday, we checked out of the hotel and decided to head to Wilmington for some breakfast. We didn’t exactly know where we wanted to stop. Not Fast Food was about the only requirement. We pulled in to an IHOP, which I wasn’t crazy about but was willing to accept for the greater good. It was packed. With a line. Which gave me an opening to suggest the Perkins up the road (where I wanted to go in the first place). Only it wasn’t there anymore. In fact, we weren’t seeing anything breakfasty, so I made the call. We’d go back to the IHOP and take our medicine and wait.

It wasn’t going to be long, the hostess said. So once again, we got a light-up thingee and took up residence in the parking lot.

About 10 minutes later, a big red truck drove by, and one of its passengers got out to go in and check out the wait. I saw it first. The Carolina hat. It couldn’t be. We were 14 miles away from that restaurant in Carolina Beach.

But it was. There was Willie Nelson in the truck. He was unmistakable. The truck parked, and they got out. One the kids said, “Hey, Dad, isn’t that …” “Yep,” I replied. But they’re behind us, I said. No problem at all.

Sure enough, we got seated a couple of minutes later.

And before we even started looking at the menus, Willie, Carolina guy and the rest were seated at the table right beside us.

They were more subdued – probably after a fairly hard night, and I’m not sure they recognized us.

But I’m not sure they didn’t either. Willie started sliding his false teeth in and out of his mouth (like my grandfather used to do when I was a kid – only it was endearing then). And finally one of the women with the group told him to stop, he was scaring the kids.

We finished up breakfast and got back on the road quickly. We’ve never forgotten Willie and his cronies, who turned out to be not-so-bad folks, after all.

But you can rest assured that we won’t be eating breakfast at the IHOP in Wilmington this week. ‘Cause Willie, You Were Always on Our Minds. You Were Always on Our Minds.

Shalom. I’ll post as I get the opportunity – and inspiration – this week.


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One response to “Footprints in the Sand, or Deja Vu at the IHOP

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