I think that most of you probably know what Ol’ Dutch is talking about when I mention The Barrel in the title to this column but for those of you hitting on only about five cylinders, it’s officially called Cracker Barrel. You know? The place with the expensive rocking chairs on the porch and old people wandering about like the local nursing home just let out for recess?
But anywho, Ol’ Dutch and Miss Trixie were asked to go out by number one son Bubs and family this past Sunday in celebration of Trixie’s birthday. Now Miss Trixie and I have not been out at all since they started serving up the COVID at the area restaurants last year so this was our first excursion into the abyss.
Way back about a hundred years ago before I met Trixie, I used to go to this restaurant every Sunday after church with the ex and friends. We would get the same thing every week and split the meal which may have been a portent of other splitting yet to come. I always enjoyed that time but Ol’ Dutch had not been back to a CB (that’s CB as in Cracker Barrel, not CBD) store since then.
The part I had forgotten was that the entrance to this chow joint is through a gift shop filled with every kind of chocolate, sweet candy, little toys, recipe books, kick-knacks and even a few paddy whacks. The plan is for the maître d to take your name and suggest you peruse the aisle in the gift shop while you wait. Even Ol’ Dutch could see this was a planned event as there were plenty of empty tables available at the time of our arrival.
But we were nonetheless herded back into the crowded gift arena where we had to keep the granddaughters from the toys and Ol’ Dutch out of the chocolate. I mean really, people. Folks arrive there hungry anyway and to stack up those creamy sweets in front of a largely diabetic herds of human flesh is just plain cruel.
I also had also forgotten that the crowd leans to older people and soon Ol’ Dutch and company were treated to big bosomed great grandmas who smelled like the Estee Lauder factory blew up and old men who like to fart in one aisle then quickly shuffle to the next to avoid being implicated in the crime.
These same old guys also seem determined to engage any and everyone in the room in some mundane conversation about their bursitis or last surgery and one actually cornered Bubs and his wife, Tinkerbell, for a time.
Luckily, they called our number, and we left our new best friend at the gate and were taken to a lovely table. The waitress was lovely, and we got our meals ordered and we settled into our normal routine. Which is the adults conversing and Ol’ Dutch and the two grand kids coloring on the kids menu.
Trixie, my son and his wife had no more gotten started on solving the world's problems between them and Grandpa had not even gotten past a blue Crayola when yes, you guessed it, our new best friend felt compelled to leave his table of 31 of his own family members and come join us. Ol’ Dutch was somewhat annoyed, but I had to just giggle as it reminded me of the time, I lived in Branson.
For you see, you never go out there without some old guy striking up a conversation with you for no reason while his wife Maude digs in her massive 10-gallon purse for pictures of the grands and great grands.
We finished our meal and sang “Happy Birthday” to Miss Trixie without incurring copyright infringement fines for singing the song and Ol’ Dutch even got to pay for the whole thing, which is what Dads do when they get invited out.