We’re taking a road trip. The route has evolved over time. I instigated the idea because I have felt a strong urge in the last few years to again visit the grave of our first grandson, who was born in 2004, but lived just a short 2 hours. His grave is in Missouri. The story of his birth and death are for another time.
Anyway, we started planning a trip from southeast Georgia to Missouri. Then we added in the idea of visiting some relatives, whom we haven’t seen in awhile (or ever).
In any case…day 1, 5/30/2015. We got away from home not terribly behind schedule, about 9:30 AM. Stopped a few times; bathroom, get something to drink, buy some gas.
Driving through or around Atlanta is just a chore. Trust me on that one.
Finally arrived at our day one destination: Dalton, GA. It’s pretty here, but I mainly picked it for its location, being about as far as I wanted to drive the first day. (Plus, I had been here before.) Rolled in around 5:00. Stayed in the room maybe 10 minutes, then went to the hotel bar. From there, proceeded to Outback Steakhouse. Ok, it’s chain; but the food was great, as was the service.
After we left there is when it got interesting. We were near a strip shopping center. We had both spotted, on our way to Outback, a small sign over one of the businesses at the strip mall: The Oyster. So we were pondering whether we should have stopped there. The name was intriguing enough for us, as we both love seafood. But while driving around the parking lot, we saw a young woman emerge from her car, wearing only a very brief top – could have been a bra – and very brief bottoms. They were black, with a sheen, so perhaps leather? Didn’t matter. We were amazed at this. She had a friend with her, in a short yellow smock and cowgirl hat. The girl in black walked over to the Oyster, then returned to her car, and put on a shirt. We were strictly observers, but both of us thought: there’s a story there. So after circling the parking lot a couple of times, we decided: we’ve got to go in this place.
It was a place for locals. Smoky, quarter-fed pool tables, and hard-living people; though I must temper that right now, and say that everyone we met in there was friendly, well-mannered, exceptionally polite, and a little intrigued by us. We are non-descript older people, 60+, and we were dressed very casually. So we were intrigued at the intrigue.
When we went to the bar to take a seat, we ended up sitting beside – you got it – the yellow and black-clad ladies we observed in the parking lot. At this point, I’m not sure what my wife was thinking, but I was expecting the evening to be very entertaining.
The ladies – youngest in her 20s, older in probably late 40s – soon found someone with whom to shoot pool. The bartenders knew these ladies well, and were keeping a close eye on Miss Black Undies; expecting trouble. We came to realize that they knew the young woman, and were half-expecting rowdy behavior from her.
The young woman also stated to my wife that it was her birthday, and requested one of the bartenders – can’t think of the woman’s name – to sing to her. She did; a lovely rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” That was the song I sang to my daughter when she was an infant, and I now sing it to my granddaughters.
Two other people – I will just give their first initials here, T and S – sat down beside me. And one of the first things they observed was that We Were Not From Around There. True enough, but I didn’t want to take the conversation to a possibly troublesome place by asking how they discerned that. It was probably obvious to everyone else around there: Ozzie and Harriet visiting a dive bar.
Conversations all around – with the bartenders, with T & S, and my wife ended up with Miss Black Undies sitting beside her; talking at length with her. That’s my wife – everyone’s Mom. That’s the nature of the conversation they were having. I was just enjoying the place. Didn’t much care for the cigarette smoke, but the older I get, the more I like talking with people, and the easier it has become to strike up a conversation with strangers.
These were good people. Hard lives, almost all of them, but that’s just based on their appearance and conversation. We didn’t pry about stuff like that. But my point is: really good folks. Wife and I spent quite a bit of time grinning at each other, and thinking: do you believe this place? Or at least I was thinking that. But that is a condescending thought, and I have no right to think it, because there have been many people who have thought the same thing of me.
As we were about to leave, we asked the bartenders if we could possibly get one of the red shirts that some of them wore; just the bar name, location, nothing especially interesting. They went to the back, came out with two new t-shirts for us, and said they were taking care of the price. We were touched and astonished; we had done nothing to earn these shirts. I had already tabbed out, but left them some money for the shirts anyway.
Hugs from Sabrina, one of the main bartenders, on our way out. She seemed to really appreciate the type of customers we had been, and we definitely appreciated her flawless service.
We are just getting started with this trip. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? But this was a very nice start.
There are good people wherever you go, and if you are lucky, as we are, your path will cross with theirs.