My approach to food has always been more of a gourmand than a gourmet, but I nearly pushed the envelope too far Saturday night when I forced my daughter and boyfriend to eat at a questionable hamburger dive on 4th Avenue in downtown Nashville.
Two other charming aspects of my personality were also working against us that evening, one of which is that although I do not wear a timepiece of any kind, I am a stickler for time. I’m convinced I can “feel” what time it is and Saturday night I could just “feel” we’d be late for the Indigo Girls concert at the Ryman if we chose to stand in line for 45 minutes at any of the finer eating establishments that actually encouraged the use of flatware and cloth napkins. Also working against us was the fact that when my body decides it’s hungry, wild horses can’t keep me from food. I suddenly had a one track mind and began walking several feet ahead of Wayne and Kate in search for food. I didn’t care where we ate, nor did I care what we ate. I never altered my pace, but only looked behind me on occasion to see Kate’s red head as she struggled to keep up and Wayne’s 6’4” frame as he waved above the crowd on the sidewalk to indicate he could still see me.
Time was of the essence and our choices were limited. We could wait in line for a table at a real restaurant and miss part of the show or forgo eating. I doubt Kate would have been allowed in any of the bars although I felt compelled to risk it. I was getting grumpy. There was no way I was sitting through a three hour concert having had no dinner. And then I saw it. It was like an oasis in the desert: Paradise Park Trailer Resort. The restaurant portion of the establishment offered little in the way of ambience, which only added to its charm–unless you consider lawn chairs and paper plates ambience in the trailer park sense of the word. In fact, had I not been on a mission for food, I doubt I would have noticed the place at all. I placed our order with a very patient, sweet girl who gave me my receipt with the number “46” written and circled at the top. Our order number would appear on an LED screen near the grill with a staff in full view that wore T-shirts with the phrase “Best Mullet in Town” emblazoned across the front. Fifteen minutes later I was eating the most amazing bacon cheeseburger ever! I’m not a beer drinker but, since I was already out of my element, I agreed to try a Sweet Water Blue Ale—it was fabulous!
The place had class—not high class, but class none the less. I found myself singing every word of every Honky Tonk song that emanated from the bar and Wayne and I were both lulled by the siren sound of the steel guitar aficionado. I have still not purged the lyrics to the Hank Williams, Jr. cover of “Family Tradition” from my brain pan.
Then the ultimate decision: To use or not to use the bathroom. I decided to chance it when Kate offered to go with me. So, with our purses clutched tightly to us, we made our way through the crowd. On the way, I spotted a girl with her head down on one of the tables, apparently asleep; her bleach blond hair splayed on the table. She was either an employee possibly working a double or a patron who had already had too much to drink. Either way, I found myself thinking, “Bless her heart…”
What the restaurant lacked in cozy ambience, it totally made up for in art décor outside the women’s bathroom. Velvet Elvis paintings, velvet paintings of lions and tigers, and rudimentary landscape paintings hung in random places on the wall. My favorite was the painting of Satan himself on the throne that hung in a place of honor beside the ladies’ restroom. Kate and I entered and her expression mirrored mine: gape-mouthed and wide-eyed. We had, in fact, walked into Hell’s bathroom. Graffiti covered every square inch of the walls, ceiling, and bathroom stall doors.
Kate and I being readers, we couldn’t help but peruse the walls looking for any sign of a clever anecdote or poem. Kate, finding none and being a budding writer herself, decided to leave her mark on the bathroom wall of the Paradise Park Trailer Resort. Although I was too busy wondering if a murder had been committed in there to leave my own words of wisdom, I still took the time to encourage her juvenile delinquency by taking a photo as she defaced the only remaining blank space on the wall.
Feeling sullied and unusual, we finally left our little patch of redneck heaven. I am not convinced I did not do my daughter a favor by safely exposing her to a side of redneck I hope she’ll never have to revisit. Wayne and I, however, are planning to come back and sample more of the 38 beers they have on tap and perhaps enjoy a fried Spam and cheese sandwich and a Moon Pie.