At the moment, I'm sitting in a Chinese restaurant in a small rural town in Illinois. I'm on my way to my niece's 8th grade graduation (she's valedictorian!), and in embracing the ways of my father I arrived here in town ignorantly early. Might as well eat, right?
Experience has taught me that you take your life in your own hands when you eat eggrolls in towns where a certain percentage of the population has a low tooth-to-tattoo ratio and another major voting bloc consists of old, white farmers who don't generally tend to embrace the exotic. Nonetheless I'm feeling adventurous, so despite the Christmas decorations in the window I have decided to give it a go. I figure I've got a good chance of avoiding ptomaine because a healthy-looking Pastor Ed from the local Baptist church is here with his wife and the head of the prison ministry, a large man who proclaimed to the table, "I don't even like Chinese food, but this place is good." Now that's the kind of celebrity endorsement I can get behind.
If you're wondering how I happen to know Pastor Ed and his posse, did I mention that the whole place is about the size of my master bedroom and there are a total of 4 tables? There's a line for carry-out, though, and P.E. is carrying on quite a show with his overly bright tie and his captive audience. We also all now know the couple at the table next to me who have just moved back in with his mother here in town since they fell on hard times but will be sure to see P.E. in church on Sunday. I wonder why P.E. avoided bringing his roadshow over to my table? Do I radiate 'city'? Perhaps he suspected I was dawdling before going down the road to hang out with the Lutherans? Worse yet - perhaps I give off a 'lawyer aura' that emits a 'Forget it Chuck, She's beyond redemption' beacon to all men of the cloth...
Anyway, my food is here and it's not half bad. Who knew that this tiny little hole in the wall was actually a dinner theatre!?
5 hours ago