I recently spent a few days in my favorite city, Nashville, TN. The number of restaurants, musical venues, and microbreweries can be overwhelming-especially for someone from a small coal mining town who ate at Winky’s, listened to music played from vinyl 45s on a portable record player, and snagged a 6-pack of Old Milwaukee from someone who was willing to help a youngster out. It seems that my isolated childhood may have helped me to develop a special skill that I didn’t know I had-until my trip to Music City.
We arrived at our destination just in time for happy hour. Upon receiving the 2-page single-spaced list of all the happy specials, I carefully chose a fruity wit. My two drinking buddies were already enjoying their selection as I waited, and waited, and waited for mine to arrive. “Oh, we had to change the keg,” said the server-the same server who a few rounds later told me I had to pick something else. “Why?” I asked. “Did I drink the whole keg already? I don’t even like beer.” But the reality was my selection broke the tap cooling system. In hindsight, this was my first glimmer of my untapped skill.
A bigger glimmer happened the next day in a deli style restaurant. A half sandwich/half salad item was prominently listed on the 4-page poster size menu. Winky’s didn’t have so many options so I took me a while to decide. I settled on the half Greek salad/half veggie sandwich-since I needed to re-nourish after a full night of happy hour. “Oh, you can’t have a half of Greek salad,” said the order taker man. “You can have half of any other of the 9 salads on the menu, but not the Greek one.” “Really?” I thought. “I didn’t see that on the menu. And besides, what’s so special about a few Kalamata olives and feta cheese crumbles? Can’t you cut those in half?”
Our next stop was a honky-tonk on Broadway. I like to get there early because there’s a tipping point between seeing people have fun and watching them get sloppy. I don’t like sloppy although it’s the only time I’m happy I don’t have a daughter. “What would your mother say if she saw you right now dancing bent over like a dog in heat? That’s not what she had in mind when she dressed you up like a little princess and watched you prance across the stage at Showtime.” Oh, sorry, I got distracted. Let’s go back to the honky-tonk.
I decided to order the Moscow mule-moonshine style. As soon as the words passed over my lips the server looked at me and said, “Oh, we are out of that. That’s the only one we don’t have.” “Really?” I thought. “You have 40+ items listed on this menu and I picked the one item that is not available? How ‘bout this-why don’t you get in your 1940 Ford coupe, run out the still, and pick up just one ounce of ‘the shine’ to mix with a few ounces of ‘the ginger’ and we’ll call it a day.” I could tell he didn’t want to go, so I had to pick something else.
And it goes on and on and on and on-just like an old Journey song. My new skill is like doing a word find only ‘the find’ is the food or drink that is not really available even though it’s clearly listed on the menu. Winky’s always had what was listed on their menu and I was never denied an Old Milwaukee because the distributor was out. I think I’m going to use my newfound skill to fund my retirement. The shuttle at my home is going to have ‘Find-a-Flaw Franny’ written across the side and every time I find a flaw in a food or beverage menu my driver is gonna take me to the nearest Frugal MacDoogal or Foodland and I’m gonna get what’s needed to fix it. And every night, when I’m diapered and tucked in, I’ll know I used my God-given skill to the fullest extent.