"Let's leave at 6:00, June," said Ned. "That'll give us plenty of time to eat and see the play."
Ned and I were going to the theater in Winston-Salem, named the Hanesbrand Theater, and
Dear Hanes People: Get over your underwear theater. You couldn't have named yourself something nice, like Theater of Sparkles or, let's just say, Hoots O' June Theater? You had to throw your whole product's name in there? That doesn't strike you as just a tad obnoxious?
As opposed to Hoots O' June Theater.
But really. They couldn't have named it something normal, then insisted everything inside the theater read Hanes? Hanes Camisole Concession Counter! Hanes Tank Top Ticket Takers! Ohmygod, they could call the women's and men's rooms Are they Pink? and Are They Blue?
They really should have consulted me.
My point is, we left way before 6:00, and by "way before," I mean 5:57, which for Ned is fantastic. Getting out the door on time is not his strong suit. But as you know, food is Ned's main motivator. He is a lot like Tallulah that way.
We had big plans to go to Sweet Potato, which has many hot black waiters of color, and where they serve pretentious Southern food such as not just fried chicken, but pecan-encrusted fried chicken with pan-seared okra or something. I have no idea if you can pan-sear okra, and I never will know, because after driving around for 95 hours looking for parking, Ned finally just dropped me off and I went in. I did not at all a-OOOOO-ga at any black men who were of color while I waited.
But I stood at the door for quite some time, with a namby-pamby-looking white couple who pored over the menu tepidly and who were absolutely going to ask if the vegetables were local, and two big lesbians who I did not want to mess with. They both had on flannel shirts and puffy winter vests, and what I'd really like to see is the inside of their closets. "Let's see, we're going to a nice restaurant ...hmmm. Oh, the RED flannel! Yes! That'll look GREAT with my beige puffy vest! FUCK YEAH."
I totally said that in my butchest voice just now, which by the way is pretty butch. If you were going to describe me, you'd be all, Well, she has hair. And she can't really stay on the topic so much, oh! And butch? Man.
But the wait was, as the hostess put it, "Ten...twenty, yeah. Twenty minutes." Her lack of sure-ity is what made me go outside and find Ned, who was bent over in the cold, headed to the restaurant. Because did I mention it was cold?
"At least 20 minutes, I think," I said to him. "Wanna go to the wine place?" The wine place is a most excellent restaurant. It's where I had my very first date when I got back on this riveting dating scene. I got some on that first date back, and by "got some," I mean a delicious brie-and-honey appetizer.
"Forty-five minutes," said the indifferent hostess. Usually they have a delightful man up there, but he must have had the night off, or he transitioned from a slight, charming slip of a guy to a large angry woman. If I had to deal with telling people over and over again that there was a 45-minute wait, I'd be angry too, so.
We bent over in the cold and walked to the Irish pub nearby, where that guy Brent holds the record for most nights in a row for coming there. He was already up to more than 500 nights back in 2012. Ned and I have never met him, but we're riveted by him. Every time we try to get a waitperson to describe him, it's incredibly vague, and we still have no idea what age or attractiveness level he is. So far all we've got for sure is white male, soon to have cirrhosis.
"Hour wait," they said, and at this point I was irritated. It was only SIX-THIRTY. Who WERE these yahoos stampeding out the door so early to partay down on a Saturday night? Also, I mean, I lived in LA and you could always find SOME place that didn't have a wait.
We drove to the place where I like their mac and cheese and chicken fingers, and no I'm NOT six years old, shut up. Half-hour wait. We looked at our phones. We had just a little over an hour till the play.
"Maybe we're, like, too in town," I said. "Too on the main strip, here, of bustling Winston-Salem. Let's go to the brewery." There's a brewery down the road a little, kind of away from the action. We drove down there and spent 3949449 hours finding a place to park. We had to do that thing where you put on your turn signal and wait for someone to leave their spot, which by the way
Dear Person Whose Spot We Were Waiting For: Hey, take your time, there, Molasses. I do not at all wish I had a round black bomb, like the kind Wile E. Coyote always has, to hurl at your fucking unmoving car. Love, June.
We stampeded to the brewery and passed a cool store. "Has this always been here?" asked Ned. Turns out it's my friend Kit's NEW STORE! Oh my god, was it cool. And there she was, at the counter! She waved at us and we waved back, and I pointed at my nonexistent watch to tell her we didn't have time to come in. We all really need a new gesture to tell people that, as no one wears a watch anymore. We can't point at a fake phone, because then you'd be saying sext me, and
Dear Kit: I probably don't want you to sext me. Are you really good at it? Because, okay. Maybe. Love, June.
The brewery was crowded with people pressed against all the walls and doors and windows. We didn't even bother to ASK what the wait was. Instead I asked the snip of a hostess, "Do you know anywhere we can go where there ISN'T a wait? We don't need to go anywhere nice at this point. This is the fifth place we've tried."
The hostess looked me up and down. UP AND DOWN, that little snip did! "To be honest?" she began. I fucking hate people who start sentences that way. "To be honest? 6:45 on Saturday? I really don't."
Oh, fuck YOU. You can't think of one pizza place we can slip into? One cheap Chinese spot where we go to the counter and order. Nothing. You can't think of ONE GODDAMN PLACE. You'd really rather just let me know I have some nerve wanting to eat on a Saturday. AND IT WASN'T EVEN LATE YET.
I mean, do you normally go out to eat at 6:30? In normal life, if Ned and I go out to eat, it's more like 8:00 or 9:00. Is everybody 72 years old all of a sudden?
And that is how we ended up at Hardee's at 7:15 p.m. on a Saturday night. And it was, like, World's Scariest Hardee's. "I think this is where my friend's girlfriend was shot in the face," I said to Ned as we pulled up. I'm not kidding. I really think it was.
And you know in Star Wars, when they go to the bar and all the weird characters are there? You know in Crocodile Dundee, when they go to the bar and everyone's tough and scary? You know when Pee Wee goes into the biker bar and everyone turns to look at him?
Welcome to Hardee's Winston-Salem.
There was this glassy-eyed, stringy-haired character, with an empty Hardee's coffee cup, giving the counter woman a hard time. "Well, I just keep hearing a different story from everyone," he said, and I feel like maybe he was trying to get his 400th free cup of the day or something. He turned and looked us up and down, and is probably related to that bitchy hostess. "To be honest? I'm going to knife you both. I'm going to gut you like hungry fish. On a Saturday night."
"Um, I want three taquitos," I said to Ned, who was IN A MOOD at this point. A MOOD. Ned, who enjoys eating more than anything in the world (yes, anything. He'd say different, but if I dangled my girl bits and also a nice salad in front of him, he'd have to take a second. My girl bits and a nicely prepared grouper? I'm going untouched) had to eat at HARDEE'S, with a glassy-eyed murderer.
We took our seats and Charles Manson's mentally disturbed brother sat nearby, staring at us. "That guy makes me nervous," said Ned. Do you all remember when Ned beat up that huge crazy guy who gave us a hard time? I mean, if NED is nervous, then I feel horrified.
The good news is, my fucking taquitos were delicious. I'm not even kidding you. "This is the worst cheeseburger I've ever had in my life," groused Ned, as Meth and the Amphetamines stared resentfully at us from his table. "Also, if we get out of here without having to talk to that guy, I'll consider the night a success," said Ned.
"This night is NOT a success," I told Ned, getting a refill on my Hardee's Coke.
Of course, as soon as I got over there, old Knife of the Round Hardee's Table meandered my way. "You related to the Czhrreqquioos?" he asked me. I have no idea what name he said, but it is highly likely I am indeed not related to them. It was also highly likely I was going to be in this guy's puts-the-lotion-on-its-skin pit in 10 seconds.
"Nope, she's not. You have a good night!" Ned was behind me, all Southern and charming all of a sudden. We screamed out to his car and made our getaway. I don't even know if that guy knows how menacing he looks. Does he MEAN to look all Nature Says Do Not Touch, or is he some kind of saint who has no idea why people don't talk to him?
Finally, we got to the goddamn theater. "I feel disgusting," said Ned. "I am sick from that cheeseburger."
"See, Ned, what you have to do is train for situations like this. I've been training for YEARS, and I feel fantastic."
"This better be the best play of all time," groused Ned, who did I mention was in a MOOD?
It was when the people behind us, who I called the Careless Whispers, talked to each other all night and dug their hands in their bag of popcorn like it was their last meal (and maybe it was. Maybe the Careless Whispers had tried to eat in Winston, as well), that I got hysterical. I got that kind of giggling like you get in church, where you know you have no way to stop, and everyone's gonna look at you, and a snort is in your near future.
Ned did NOT get the giggles.
Ned still doesn't feel well today. As for me, I only wish to say
Dear Hardee's: You make an excellent taquito. Love, Hoots O' June.