Our first stop after leaving the Nashville airport during our trip “home for the holidays” was dinner at Cracker Barrel. For those uninitiated, the Cracker Barrel specializes in Southern cuisine, featuring chicken fried steak, chicken fried chicken, and fried okra, all available as part of the traditional “Meat and Three”. (That’s choose a meat option and 3 side dishes for us Yankees.) The tea is sweet and the green beans are a lovely earth tone and Steve loves it. I get the fried chicken.
I do not get the okra. I mean literally and figuratively, I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. Growing up in Illinois, I never encountered okra and I can not fit it into my personal frame of reference. It’s like eggplant. My only experience growing up was an old cartoon (maybe a Looney Tune?) where someone cracks open an eggplant and an egg yolk and white come oozing out. So, really? What was an eggplant? How was I to know? I’ve become more adventurous in my eating habits in recent years, but only when I can classify what I’m eating. A few months ago, I went out on a limb when eggplants were $1 each at the supermarket and brought one home. Once I cut into it, I was able to see that it is a bit like a zucchini. Once classified, I was able to make it into a yummy eggplant parmesan.
But I digress. In addition to the restaurant, the lobby area of the Cracker Barrel is an Old Country Store where you can while away the sometimes-long wait and spend your money before you even order dinner. On this occasion, a cat-related item caught my eye. Said item was a little blonde kitty curled up in a bed that you could kind of envision sitting on your fireplace hearth. But, instead of being soft and snuggly, it was hard plastic under the faux fur and it obviously had a battery. But why? I turned the thing over a few times, even tried to open the battery slot, but couldn’t find anything to turn it on. I tried tweaking the ears thinking maybe it would start to purr. Nothing. Finally, my MIL called a Cracker Barrel employee over to ask what it did.
“It breaths,” she informed us happily.
And sure enough, following her pointing finger we saw the abdominal region of the cat going up and down in a rough approximation of breathing. It was quite a letdown after all that suspense.
“It kind of looks like an alien is going to burst out of its stomach,” I commented, thinking of Jones, the cat from Alien.
My MIL laughed and Steve looked slightly uncomfortable while the Cracker Barrel employee looked downright horrified. She snatched the cat up off its perch and hurried back behind the counter, removing it from my sight before I could say another word.
And this, my friends, is yet another example of why I need to edit myself when I go South.
Perhaps sometime I’ll tell you about the time we visited Cumberland Caverns, or, as I like to call it, “Creationist Cave”.