One day last week Laura and I decided to go to Lone Star for dinner.
More specifically, it was Lone Star #4306. I don’t know why that would matter, but they seem to worry that people won’t know that bit of information. Neither the waitress nor the hostess told us the store number. They no doubt guessed – quite correctly – that we didn’t care about the store number. (Besides, how strange would it be if either of them greeted us with “Welcome to Lone Star #4306, the 4306th store in the chain”?) But the management (probably at the corporate office) compensated for that by programming the register to print the store number across the top of the check in the same size print as the name of the restaurant. It seems quite odd, but most managers seem to be odd in one way or another. But I digress…
It used to be that you could go to Lone Star (and this was the entire chain, not just #4306) and while you waited for your food, you could munch on peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. It leant a fun sort of folksy air to the place and made for some crunchiness as you walked to your table. That ended a couple years ago when the health department (I have no idea what level, but it does seem to be a national thing) declared that anything fun, folksy or crunchy was unhealthy and forced them to end the whole peanut thing. (This no doubt also made life a lot easier for the staff members who had to sweep up the peanut shells at the end of each day.)
Despite the lack of peanuts (or shells) we still enjoyed our dinner and halfway through the meal something most unexpected happened.
Lone Star has a Western theme to it and the background music is Country. The song playing right then was “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” and David Allan Coe was just about halfway through explaining how his friend Steve Goodman had ended up writing an extra verse for it, making it the perfect County and Western song when the music switched to Tracy Byrd’s “Watermelon Crawl.”
What happened next seemed like something from a musical, where one of the characters says something to someone and the next thing you know the know, the entire cast, plus all the extras in the background are suddenly singing and dancing as if it’s a perfectly common occurrence and the entire population spontaneously feels the need to sing. And just like the residents of one of those only-in-the-movies towns, the moment the music changed, the entire restaurant staff started dancing!
Bunny Sue Fu and others have told me that this is a common occurrence, but evidently I’ve never timed my dinners correctly. And just like the folks in those movies, the people working in that restaurant seemed to be enjoying themselves.
And then, just like in the movies, the moment the song ended, everyone went back to work.