Has anyone ever done an anthropological study of a culture just by visiting its eating establishments? Because there have to be a few theses, dissertations and monographs in there someplace. We are learning a lot just by observing people in restaurants.
Take Saturday night. Please! But seriously, folks, we went to Applebee's, because we could walk there. And what luck! We arrived just before a whole busload of . . . Mennonites? Okay, I know that Mennonites have a much more modern philosophy than the Amish, but in Branson, a place known for entertainment? Of course, at that point, we had only been in Branson for half an hour, and had seen very little of it.
We entered with about eight Mennonites, and all sat down to wait for a table. Since there were only two of us, we were called first. But we did have a funny little encounter with them. They were all young adults. The men looked fairly normal. You couldn't have told them from average 21st century guys on the street. The women, however, do look different. For instance , they don't wear makeup, and that's sensible. They wear flat shoes, and that makes sense, too. But then they go and ruin it all by adding in the long prairie dresses and the little dixie cup hats. And here's another indication they're more "worldly" than the Amish: as soon as they all sat down, one woman jumped up again and announced she was headed to the restroom. At this, all the other women leaped up and ran off after her, causing all the men to laugh and comment. So I turned to them and said, "Why don't you have some fun with this? When they come back, you all jump off and run off to the men's room together!" They laughed at that, too, but I don't know if they did it because we got our table before the women came back.
During dinner, we were surounded by screaming brats evenly spaced around the restaurant. In among them were loud, apparently drunk geezers. Or maybe they were just off their meds, who knows? I'm allowed to say these things because I'm a geezer ON meds, so I ought to know.
Next morning, Joyce went to the "free" breakfast the motel provides, and this was Sunday morning. She said it was pretty quiet for a while, but at about 9:15, a whole crowd of people came in, all dressed up for church. Among them were a little girl and an older woman who might have been her grandmother. And Grandma said to the little girl, "You kin putcher BAH-bull rat cheer!" So Joyce, fearful of evangelism, got up and left. They were also playing Faux News on the TV in there, but Joyce had turned the volume all the way down while she was eating.
We guessed the group was headed for one of the local revivals all around town, or a church service for Mother's Day, or whatever. And here's a part I don't get: why carry a Bible to church? Don't churches HAVE Bibles? I can see carrying your Bible to someplace where there might not be one, like a whorehouse or a crack house. But Bibles are standard church equipment. They have the same ones in all the pews and Sunday schools so everyone can have the same one and be on the same page. Back down in Arkansas, we saw a bumper sticker : "If it ain't King James, it ain't Bible." Really? What did Jesus use, then? So even fundie churches must all have stacks of KJVs lying around. You can leave your own home.
Went out for Chinese that night. Once again, they had a smoking section, and as we all know, smoke can't read signs, so we had to get up and move. After two nights of restaurants with smoking (Applebee's, too) Joyce ended up with a sore throat so we stayed in all day, except to use the swimming pool. I got pictures; it's really nice.
From now on, if we get to a restaurant and there's smoking, we'll get ours to go. And by the way, if this is the hyper-religious capital of the Midwest, and smoking is a vice, why do they encourage it, especially in restaurants? I can't imagine these good Christian folks could be so hypocritical!!!!
Tomorrow: all about Yakov Smirnov. Hang on to your hats.