Okay – I had a seriously senior moment last week… mea culpa – whoops. By the time I realized I had totally ‘spaced’ putting something out for Monday, it was already half-past Wednesday. And the only reason I remembered it then was due to talking to the manager of Famous Al’s Hot Dogs. No, I don’t have an uncle named Al, but I do know this particular ‘Al’ is one of the two places on Granby Street (downtown Norfolk’s ‘main drag’) that I will go to for lunch on a regular basis. Not to say that Famous Al’s Hotdogs or my other preferred ‘haunt’ – Granby Street Pizza are the only things going along Granby Street. Far from it. I have nothing against sushi (I consider it a treat for dinner – provided my wife is visiting our eldest daughter for the weekend) or the other more upscale places – but simply put, I do not (a) have the time for these more leisurely paced places, (b) care to learn the lineage of whatever free-range hand-fed champion pedigreed’ crafted slab of whatever enjoyed a very peaceful existence throughout its life – yeah – then how come it is now considered lunch? You don’t get that at either place. What you do get is the standards that anyone can appreciate – basic ‘All-American stuff’ that although some will label as ‘comfort food’ (I will plead the 5th at this point to avoid a ballistic response towards those more ‘genteel and sensitive - must experience’ types (read: self-centered). Fact is, neither one is a 5-star locale according to Yelp™, Urban Spoon™, or other yuppie-centric reviews. If you were to base your visits from their reviews, you would avoid these places rather quickly due to perceived ‘lack of service’. Really? How about instead, taking a chance and learn what ‘service’ really is in these places. Is it dancing waitresses who can write their name backwards on a mirror? Nooo… is it because the table settings are reminders of a never visited but know all too well from TV rustic bistro on the outskirts of Tuscany? (Newsflash – Tuscany is a REGION in Italy, and bistros are found in France) Still a big negative? Okay, than before the proverbial strike-3, how about this… try on the fact that the people who work there are sincere, know what they are doing, have been doing it for more than a while, and are good enough at doing what they do, that they’ve been in the same place for a couple of decades. That my friends is called sustained longevity – something you don’t see very often in the combat zones of restaurants. You either ‘do it’ or you don’t… at least not for very long, depending on how deep your resources are. You also learn that there are good times, and not so good times to visit these kinda’ places. Walk in to either at 12noon, and expect to be waiting – there are others who are just as intent on getting something to eat on their lunch hour too. Come in at 12:45pm, pick a spot – you’ll be good to go. As they say, timing is everything. Now to the important part – before all of the subterfuge that is becoming an increasing part of our daily life kicked in, just what was it you were going there for to begin with? Oh yeah – to get something to eat. In the case of Famous Al’s – I hope you like hotdogs and sandwiches; soups too. You want pedigreed hamburgers or signature salads? Sorry – go out the door, turn left, keep walking. You want hotdogs grilled and served with a variety of sauerkraut, onions, tomatoes, pickles, etc.? Grab a table. You want something to drink? Ya’ see that big boxy looking thing in the middle? There ya’ go, pilgrim. Bon appetite. I’ll talk about Granby Street Pizza another time, as it too deserves to be given its proper due – and since reading time is running short, I’ll defer until later.
Soooo…. Have I gone off the deep end into being a wannabe restaurant critic? Um, Big Negative Ghostrider. Merely a reality check that perhaps we need to keep in mind that in our seemingly endless quest to ‘improve our quality of life’ and have ‘an experience that is absolutely perfect’ (don’t think that will happen until we are in Heaven). Perhaps taking the saner path to going through life without a constant panic of ‘what if (fill in the blank) situations?’ the saner albeit quieter road might have long-term positive results, vs. the more disruptive and highly speculative, let alone unpredictable path of ‘gotta’ haves’ – save cravings for pizza, ice cream, pickles, and the like. No, despite my appearance, I am not 23 months pregnant… but I do know that those cravings are for real for those who have been, currently are, or may become some day. For the rest of us – deal with it – and by that – be supportive. Okay, so what if you gotta’ make a run to WalMart® at zero dark thirty because your significant other is going absolutely freakin bonkers at the moment? Is it your body that is getting rearranged in 20 different directions on a 24/7 basis? No? Then put up, man-up and git er’ done!! Why aren’t you back yet? GO!! Lord Almighty, yes I know this is nothing new, but to see some of these so-called ‘enlightened’ expectant parents, you would think that these guys are the ones who are pregnant… or at the very least – attempting to emulate what their wife/significant other is going through. One word answer to that: DON’T. You will not ever, now or at any other time, glow. It is not possible – our DNA man code does not permit that type of math. If it does, your DNA is really suspect. Do NOT attempt to ‘feel’ like they do – it ain’t gonna’ happen, Skippy. The two of you have made a multi-year to life-long commitment at this point, depending on your views of helping your children as they become adults. I am far from the perfect (or the worst) parent – but I have tried to do my best – with some success, with a whole bunch of ‘geez, that was not what I expected’ pathetic failures, but I have tried. Remember that part about ‘perfect’? Like I said – I believe there is only one truly perfect place – and it isn’t found on TV, at the mall, or on-line. When dealing with the self-imposed frustration of realizing that no matter what, we still aren’t truly there yet, how about instead, take a deep breath, realize that we will get there – one day – just not today. There is one eternally patient ‘person’ who is there for us in 3 forms who will always be there to silently coach us along, if we accept it for what it is. So – before you go dashing off to the wonders of www.gottabeperfectNOW.com – you’ll get a URL not found – try instead the more simplistic approach of prayer and contemplation. Like those not so famous places that take care of lunch and the like – without a Broadway production, you just might find that a similar approach when dealing with all of life’s issues is far more effective than any epicurean delights that your flight of fancy desires.