I went out with Sara to see Brokeback Mountain for the second time on Tuesday night. I met her in an area of Washington County that exists in the early 1990s. The movie theater only charges $6 for an evening show and the drink sizes come in small, medium, and large.
I was considering moving to Washington County until we went to hang out in Denny's after the show. Their smoking laws are another throwback to 1992. The entire restaurant was filled with a thin gray haze, so when the hostess asked, "Would you like smoking or non-smoking?" I really couldn't stop myself.
"Is there a difference?"
She looked at me like I was crazy and pointed to a few booths in the front of the restaurant. "Well, smoking is up here, and non-smoking is back there." She gestured to the remaining 75% of tables.
"Ah, well, in that case... non-smoking."
So she wiped off our non-smoking table and removed the ashtray, as the people next to us probably needed it.
We spent the rest of the time getting to know each other and people-watching. I don't know about Sara, but I felt a little bit like Jane Goodall, observing the habits of the late-night diner crowd. Sara had a better vantage point than I did, but I could watch their acid-washed ghosts in the windows.
There was the guy with gray hair down to his hips and a baseball cap, (so it's possible he had the longest mullet ever, but not certain) his blonde permed wife, their nine-year-old son with the largest mullet I've ever seen, and their unfortunately normal-looking daughter. It was the son's mullet that really grabbed our attention, though. It was layered in the back, spiked in the front. It was lustrous and looked like after years of his ancestors wearing this particular hairstyle, it just naturally grew into business in the front, party in the back.
There was the greasy line cook who kept staring at Sara, possibly thinking of ways to get her into his white, windowless van as we left. We tried to read his mind.
"Pardon me, but is this your puppy? Oh look, he's hiding... If you can't see him, just lean in a little further..."
"I've broken my arm and I need help loading this chair into my car... could you just climb in and pull?"
"It puts the lotion in the basket or else it gets the hose again."
"I need a babysitter. I pay $30 an hour..."
And then his twin came in. No, really, it had to be the guy's twin. He was in a gas-station attendant's uniform, covered in his own particular type of grease. I wonder if they live together. Their laundry would smell like a basket of fries served in an old tool box.
There should soon be plenty more Tales of Adventure from Washington County--I just got a job doing closed captioning in Southpointe. I start on Monday.