I remember sitting in a vinyl upholstered booth in a restaurant called Slappy's. It was a restaurant like a chain place, like a Denny's or a Big Boy or an IHOP or a Village Inn, with all the chain place type fixtures and those huge laminated menus with pictures of everything and a huge children's menu fix prix. It is a kind of restaurant in which I am rarely. Ordinarily, when I leave my home to eat I eat: ethnic, greasy spoon, or credit-card self-indulgent, in that order. For me, eating at a place like Slappy's on a winter Wednesday afternoon is like going to Red Lobster for their Super Shrimp Feast Weekend or maybe spending my birthday at the Olive Garden wearing a funny hat while the waiters all sing "Happy Birthday" in phonetic Italian, a candle sputters in my chocolate canoli, and somebody takes a lot of pictures. Or drinks after work, TGIF!, at Bennigan's in the mall. Or jamming on karaoke night at the Ramada Inn. It just doesn't happen that often. It just isn't on.
So, the point first of all is how odd it was for me to be in that Slappy's place in the first place. I had been doing odds and ends at the bank and the post office and I decided to see the dollar matinee of a Steven Segal movie, a kind of movie I rarely see unless it's at a dollar show or on video, and I decided to kill the half-hour with coffee and pie. I really don't know why I thought "coffee and pie" but I did and there was that place, Slappy's, only about four blocks down from the Hiland Theater. So, I parked and grabbed my book and went in. It was pretty empty in there since it was too late for lunch and too early for dinner, and there weren't that many people around, waitresses or customers, and they were all mixed couple septuagenarians and two girls about my age, respectively.
The sign said "Please Seat Yourself" and I moved down to the smoking section counter. A waitress was right there, bam, and I asked her what kind of pie they had and instead of telling me she opened a menu and pointed to the dessert section and the list had about fifteen kinds of pie. She stood there tapping her pencil on her pad and looking down with her head tilted and her mouth in a crooked half-yawn/half-sigh or over at the other waitress or basically anywhere except at me. I asked her what kind of pie was best and she just said something like, "Depends on what you like to eat."
I thought that was a kind of strange thing for her to say but decided on pecan pie and she was gone before I could say "coffee, too, please." She came back and, bam, she threw the plate down in front of me and stood there like she wanted me to say something about what a bitch she was being. I asked her for the coffee and she gave me a look that said "Oh, yeah, right. You would want coffee" but she brought a pot down and sort of slopped some in the cup at my place. And the saucer. And the paper place mat with the map of New Mexico's historical and scenic points-of-interest. So, that was pretty much too much and I said, "Do you have a problem?" and, bam, the other waitress was there with a cloth to wipe up and the first waitress went back down by the cash register.
I asked the new waitress what was going on and she just said something like "you know how it is" which didn't make much sense but seemed conciliatory. I tried to read my book and eat my pie and drink my coffee but the two waitresses seemed to spend a lot of time together looking at me and not talking when I looked at them. It was creepy so I just ate as fast as I could and didn't ask for a second cup and just dropped three bucks on the counter and walked out. They both stared at me the whole time.
Now what was really classic about the whole experience was that in the movie that I went to see later that afternoon, one of those action/adventure blow-'em-ups that I normally don't have much interest in except as a way to fill up an empty afternoon or evening, in this movie the main character was Steven Segal and he was a cook on a ship and he spent the entire first part of the movie doing this running joke about making his pies, cooking his pies, worrying about his pies getting burned, and then getting pissed-off that his pies got burned. A restaurant I never go to, I movie I never see, and pies all over the place. Strange shit like this happens to me all the time.