“Lucy, you got some ‘splainin’ to do!”
A ton of tourists are waiting in line for a table at the Saluda Grill but I have miraculously snagged a booth for us. Joining me for lunch is Doris, Babe’s Yankee cousin and her equally Yankee friend, Ginger. They are here on a mini-snowbird visit.
“Isn’t this the most awesome little place,” exclaims Ginger, batting her mascara coated eyelashes.
Fighting like cats and dogs, Doris and Ginger have been trying to out-talk each other since they arrived. I haven’t opened my mouth in so long I forgot what my voice sounds like.
During a rare lull, I jump in and squeak out something that sounds like Pig Latin.
“Everything on the menu is delicious. They don’t know how to cook bad food here.” Two sets of batting eyes stare at me as if trying to figure out who I am. After a moment of silence, they look away and resume their talkathon, mouths flapping, hands flying all over the place.
Our waitress has been patient, but she is on her last nerve. She blows out a Titanic sigh just as Ginger says, “Listen to this recipe I got off the Internet. You’re gonna love it. Chop two large green onions, tops and all, and marinate them in grape jelly, and then …”
I tune out and shake my head at the young woman hoping to take our order before her grandbabies graduate from college. “Come back in a few years,” I suggest.
And then, as if not another soul was in the Grill, Doris’s voice breaks the sound barrier. “Shut UP,” she shouts.
“No, YOU shut up,” Ginger replies, and then they knock knuckles and shout, “Awesome,” in unison.
Before their unbridled Yankeeness becomes a catalyst for the Southern diners to remember Fort Sumter and take revenge, I grab Doris by the arm and threaten to pinch her till she’s cyanotic.“Simmer down you two!”
“What for?” My cousin-in-law suddenly remembers who I am.
“Because you sound like two over-the-hill Valley Girls, that’s why.”
“Whatever do you mean? This is how we talk. What is your problem?”
I must have been out of my mind to bring them out in public.
Ignoring my rebuke, Ginger pipes up with, “OMG! This is totally awesome.”
I totally hate that word, but my natural inquisitiveness demands a peek at the menu item to which Ginger is pointing. Turns out, it’s the special of the day: Pork bellies, black-eyed peas, collard greens and peach cobbler. Yum.
“You people don’t eat this stuff, do you?”
This is such a bad dream. Please God, when can I wake up?
“Oh, that’s nothing,” yells Doris. “They eat chitlins, too.”
I bury my face in the menu, scanning for Anti-Yankee Soup. I would sell my soul for a double order.
Ginger cries, “Awesome!” again and bobs her head of dyed red hair. Not everyone knows that Ginger’s hair was the motivation behind the Chia pet.
She has a habit of batting her eyes and I don’t know if it’s a case of near-sightedness or the ten coats of mascara pulling at her lids. In contrast, Doris doesn’t wear makeup although a day behind Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door wouldn’t hurt her.
The two of them are Lucy and Ethel clones. They proudly hold the “One-Up Title.” Jointly.
“Cappy, I’ve got a killer recipe for rhubarb pie. Better than Ginger’s.”
“Email me,” I say, holding back the urge to exclaim, “I totally HATE rhubarb.” She has no clue that she is presently in North Carolina where apples reign.
Ginger interjects. “No need to email. Like American Express, Doris never leaves home without her recipes.”
My husband’s cousin travels with recipes? Gene Pool Alert!
Doris shoots eye daggers at Ginger who says, “Cappy, my dog Zucchini loves my spaghetti. When I feed it to him he sings Puccini.”
She fans away a hot flash with the menu from which she never plans to order. The aroma of good food makes my stomach growl so loudly that people in the next booth look for Ginger’s singing dog. Our waitress, engaged in a head-to-head with a security guard, gestures towards our table.
“My cat, Esmeralda, opens doors.” Doris’s one-up crosses the table and smacks Ginger smack in the kisser.
“Any door?” I ask, my eyes fixed on the exit. “Yepper. She crawls up there, turns the knob and out she goes.”
I get up. “Will y’all excuse me? Need to wash my hands.”
I turn the corner and head straight for the back door. I don’t need Esmeralda to open it for me, and I’ll bet you a Cuban Cigar that Lucy and Ethel won’t even realize I’m gone.