I started this while we were just killing time at the airport and wanted to do a last stateside post. I don’t remember why I didn’t finish it but it could have been some dispute over hogging the laptop. So this is my first post from France and it should probably be something profound or sentimental and if you're looking for that you might be disappointed.
We spent the last two nights in Florida at a hotel but right up until the last minute were fixing things around our house. When you marry someone with a master’s in Historic Preservation, it's accepted that you'll live in a house with some years on it and constant maintenance is part of the equation. If, like me, you lack competence in the use of tools and/or have no patience, it's going to cost you.
But that's not what I'm going to talk about today. Instead, I've been thinking, among other things, about one of our last meals in Florida, possibly due to the contrast with our new home. The day before we left, we had breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, mainly because it was right across the street from the hotel (a Hilton) and would be a whole lot cheaper. Cynthia and I use to eat at these places a lot as we were travelling from our home in New Jersey to visit her folks in Louisiana. It’s always struck me that these “Country Cookin’” pushers are a pretty good example of what America is all about, at least for some people– the food is cheap and plentiful and a gauntlet of down home Made in China crap is arrayed so that it is impossible to walk straight to either the hostess station or the restroom. And as an aid to digestion, country music is piped throughout.
Cracker Barrels also seem to serve as a place where the morbidly obese can freely mingle with their own. Whoever made the remark about feeling thin by hanging around larger folks must have been here. I’m no lightweight myself but I’ve never left a CB feeling anything less than anorexic.
And there always seems to be a big family containing at least one member who is so severely mentally handicapped or old and senile as to have no idea which end is up. You never see these people come in and never see them leave - they are simply there. I’ve often wondered if this is where country folk come to abandon family members they can no longer care for. “I mean everyone seemed so nice and all I just know they’ll find a good home for Mamaw.”
Along these same lines, during our 8-hour layover at Gatwick Airport, a fate that should at all costs be avoided, I couldn’t help noticing that a substantial number of our fellow loiterers bore a striking resemblance to Marty Feldman, the late English comedian. One can, however, avoid having to spend too much time with the unwashed by paying a substantial fee to instead lay about one of a couple of very nice lounges. While there, we were reminded that, because of PBS and things like Masterpiece Theatre, Americans have this idea that TV in the UK is vastly superior to our own. One of the lounges large screens was tuned to a channel that covered what appeared to be a half marathon from beginning to end, including the packs of colorful stragglers. It was on for at least two and a half hours that I noticed and reinforced the idea that anyone who could sit and watch about a dozen guys running along a road, who looked like they’d just survived an African famine, would have no trouble watching any of the crap on American TV or a show about drying paint.
By the time we finally got to Bordeaux and checked in to where we’ll be staying for at least a month, it was getting to be late Sunday. In the USA, we are used to things being open at all hours and so it is never any trouble to find food, even if you’re reduced to eating at McDonald’s. Here things are a little different and we were worried about being able to find something open. But when you are in the company of a discriminating palate, a restaurant can’t merely still be open on a Sunday night, it must be open and be acceptable. After passing Moroccan, Japanese, Indian and Chinese places, we finally came upon a great pizza place we had tried on our last visit and Cynthia’s life was spared.
It was nearly 10 by the time we sat down and one of the first things I noticed was, unlike Florida, we were not one of the youngest couples at a table. We might have, in fact, been the oldest. Peppone’s serves real Italian pizza pies that, unlike their American cousins, are sized for one person. And in contrast to Cracker Barrel, the average customer was sized smaller as well.
I’m not sure what the ideal length for a blog post should be but this is probably enough anyway. Next time, I’ll let you know how it went opening a bank account and expound upon the danger of France sinking under the weight of dog shit.