Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Beacon

     This summer, I was telling my good friend Jennifer that I get really mad at Paul when he asks me things like, "How much do we pay for cable?" Or, if he asks something like, "How much do we pay for all of our utilities. Total. Gas, water, trash, light, etc...

     I don't know why, but I get irate. I feel like I am going to start spitting green pea soup I get so mad.

     It's not a hard question. I am the "accountant" in the family. He doesn't even know how much money he makes. I pay all the bills, etc... It would take me about 3 minutes to go add it up.

     Instead, I get all irritated and act flustered and roll my eyes and huff and puff and I coldly say, "Oh, I'll figure it out later!!"

     It's so stupid! I realize I am not painting a very pretty picture of myself. That's the funny part. It takes a lot to make me mad. We rarely argue, but this question and certain other similar type things always sets me off.

     So, I was telling Jennifer about the really dumb things that make me mad. And, do you know what she said to me?? She said I was quirky. One would think this would make me mad. Instead, I thought about it for a minute and I said, like it was some deep revelation, "You're right!! I am quirky!" (I know those of you that know me well are out there laughing right now! You know it's true!)

    I'll go somewhere in this story with my quirky self in just a moment.

     About 8 months ago, I found this show on Food Network that I new Paul would love. It's called Diners, Drive-in and Dives. This guy with really bad bleached hair who wears his sunglasses on the back of his neck, named, Guy Fieri, travels the United States looking for establishments that would be considered and diner, a drive-in or a dive.

     I knew right away Paul would love this show!

     I knew because when we were first dating I introduced him to a dive on the campus of the University Of Dayton, Milanos Really, it was a hole in the wall.

     The outside of the place had old wooden steps leading up to an old rickety porch. The paint was peeling. It was connected to another hole, a very popular UD bar, Tim's. I am sure if you looked really close or sniffed really hard, you could see or smell the stench of old beer mixed with some good ol' vomit. But walking into Milanos, the wonderful smell of Atlantic City Subs smacked you in the face.
     It was very small with maybe 12 booths and 2 stools at the counter. It was a little dark and dingy inside. Just entering, I could tell Paul was excited . (He's so fun. It doesn't take much to make him happy.)
     We took a paper menu, decided what we wanted and ordered. Then, Paul declared his need for a restroom. I had been in the restroom. It was made for one and it was definitely dark and dirty and dingy.
     When he came back from the restroom he said, "I know this place is going to be really good because the bathroom smells really bad!!"

     I didn't know how to take him back then. How on earth could a smelly restroom equal good food? As a matter of fact, in shady places, I steer clear of the restroom. I may not eat if I have a bad restroom experience.

     But, his intuition lead him to agree it was a great little hole in the wall. If you visit the UD campus now, it is a huge beautiful restaurant. But, the food is exactly the same. I still crave it periodically!

     Anyway, I was also right about the show. He loved it!

     He was especially excited to see that a place that he visited while he was in college, a place he had told me about many times, made an appearance on the show. It's called The Beacon and it is located in Spartanburg, South Carolina. I don't think I saw that episode that featured The Beacon.
     We started watching the show frequently and Paul decided that whenever we traveled, which I feel like is ALL the time, we would look at the list of places that had been on the show and try to hit one of them.
     This past summer we decided we would check The Beacon off the list as we would be close by on our way to visit some friends in Greenville, South Carolina. Now, please keep in mind, I had heard about this place many times but I don't think anything could have prepared me for what I was about to encounter.
     Getting to The Beacon during the trip was taking a bit longer than we had anticipated. We were all starving. It was almost 2 pm, way past lunch time. The kids were getting antsy and frustrated. They were arguing and saying things like, "If we don't eat soon, we are going to DIE! Please, can we just get Wendy's??" To which I replied, "NO!! YOU ARE GOING TO EAT AT THIS PLACE AND YOU ARE GOING TO ENJOY IT!
     As we exit the highway, we enter a bit of a shady area of town. It's a little run down. We are getting deeper into the heart of the area, when rounding the corner I get my first glimpse of The Beacon. There's a huge lighthouse looking sign pointing the way to this famous little hole. We pull into the parking lot where I see the very unattractive building. I don't know what I was expecting, I knew it was a dive. It had these dirty Wendy's- looking sun windows in the front surrounded by flags. It was just... well, it was a dive.

     So, we walk in and I see this old black gentlemen in a white uniform standing a the entrance to an ordering line. And, he is yelling! I mean YELLING!! And, I can't understand a word he is saying. It's not English, nor is it Spanish or any other recognizable language. It's some language that I am pretty sure this man made up.

     Instantly, I am a nervous wreck. I have heard about this man. You better know what you want to order when you get to him. But, you can't get close to him until you are ready. Know why? Because he's blind and he can sense your presence. And, if you are near him and you don't know what you want you better move out of the way.

     One should not have to be this nervous at a restaurant, for crying out loud!! My heart is beating fast and my stomach starts feeling like I might need to run... fast ... to the bathroom. See, I told you I was quirky. Who gets that worked up about placing an order.

     I mean, I have whipped out a pen and a piece of paper and I am writing down what we want so this guy doesn't yell at me. I am writing in down exactly, word for word. I wasn't about to do the ordering, but I didn't want Paul to get yelled at either. I need to mention that it's not as simple as just saying, "I'll take a hamburger and french fries." The Beacon... to further complicate things, has it's own lingo.

A-Plenty... smother it with onion rings and french fries
All the Way... add onion
Called it.... place order
Centerfield.... fry station
Heavy Red....
Like a burger... with slaw, mustard and tomato
M&M.... mayo and mustard
Outside.... chopped pork
Walk & Talk.... place order and walk toward centerfield
With..... mayo, lettuce and tomato

     So, when you walk up to the blind gentleman, and you have to say something like, "I'll have a Beacon Burger a-plenty.

     As soon as the last word slips off your tongue, he starts yelling to the big open kitchen behind him. "woeindsknpodisjdja*@#!&**@@$#@'

      Honest to goodness, it is completely incomprehensible. He could be calling me all kinds of names and I wouldn't have known. At the end on an order, he yells, "CAAAAAAALLLLLLEEEEEEDDDDDD IIIIIIIITTTTTTTTT!!!" And, somehow, that means to go ahead with your next order.

     How in the world are you supposed to know any of this unless you are with a veteran?? It was the most intense place I had ever been.

     After ordering, you are supposed to grab a tray and move down the line. Random people from that big open kitchen start walking up and putting things on your tray. Miraculously, the order is correct. At the end of the line, right before paying, you place your drink order.
We get to the paying part and Paul hands them our debit card. They don't take any cards.

    Sheer panic again! But, you know what, it's their fault. If I hadn't been so nervous about ordering, I would have figured out it was cash only!

     The nice southern gentlemen at the cash register told us to go eat and we could come back to pay. They had an ATM on site.

   The food was amazing but then again, I was so hungry I could have eaten a skunk's butt! (Sorry, Paul always says that!)

    Yet another quirk... I can't wait to go back!

    One more thing.... the bathrooms were yucky!


Sharla said...

What a hoot! The guy even looks like the sign he is standing in front of!

Oh...I hate 'how much' and 'what time/how long' questions! You're not alone friend!

catbertie said...

I love Diners, Drive Ins and Dives!!!

Gina said...

You're hilarious. I showed Nick the picture of your plate and he said "Mmmmmm...that looks good...." =)

And you're quirky??? NO!!!! I would have NEVER said that about you....

Riiight. =)

Abby said...

Hmmm quirky huh? Is that what they call it? :-)

Tony and Rett said...

That's one of our favorite shows too! We hit all the dives too! We also do the Rachel Ray thing of asking locals for good places to eat. No Wendy's for this family!

Proud of you for being so adventurous! For the record, I get super nervous too!

Ok, so when are we getting together to search out a dive?

qcevo said...

Being from Dayton and loving Milanos / Tim's and then later living in Spartanburg and experiencing the Beacon your blog hit home on two fronts. Great descriptions.