Lighten up: ‘I long for Pickerington’
Him: “Where do you want to eat?”
Me: “I don’t know. Should we go to the Heath Olive Garden? Or the Zanesville Olive Garden?”
Him: “I’m sick of Olive Garden. How about Applebee’s?”
Me: “You know I hate Applebee’s. How about Ruby Tuesday? I love Ruby Tuesday!”
Him: “The Heath Ruby Tuesday? Or the Zanesville Ruby Tuesday?”
Me: “I don’t care.”
Him: “But every time we go to Ruby Tuesday, we end up spending, like, 70 bucks...”
Me: “OK, fine. Let’s just go to Tumbleweed. That’s what the kids like anyway.”
Him: “The Heath Tumbleweed? Or the Zanesville Tumbleweed?”
Thrilling, no? This is the kind of exhilarating life we lead.
Not our fault, really. We work in the heart of the city, but we live in the sticks. And when I say sticks, I mean actual twigs... scraping my window...right now. We both drive an hour each way, amongst dummies in traffic, to get downtown to work. When the day’s over, we both like to get the H. out of Dodge, er, Columbus, and get home. Away from the dummies. To our sticks.
Here in beautiful Downtown Brownsville, (Town motto: “Indoor Plumbing Optional!”), there aren’t any, I mean, many places to dine. Laura at the store makes a mean ham sandwich and a good pizza, but if you want to sit down and eat them, your seating choices are A: your house B: your car C: someone else’s house or D: someone else’s car.
Now, I don’t mind a decent ham sandwich, and I certainly won’t turn down a slice (or five) of pizza. But I like to sit at an actual table. And I have another restaurant requirement: a liquor license. Somebody better bring me a glass of cheap house merlot with my mediocre meal.
So when we decide for a big night on the town, we have two nearby options: Heath, Ohio or Zanesville, Ohio. Heath has a Red Lobster (or, Dead Lobster, as my daughter calls it), Applebee’s, Tumbleweed, Garfield’s, an Olive Garden and a couple dubious Mexican restaurants.
Zanesville has a Dead Lobster, Applebee’s, Tumbleweed, Garfield’s, Olive Garden and a couple dubious Mexican restaurants.
In fact, these are the default restaurant choices for every suburban town in America. Because back in the 1800s, rules like this were apparently written into town charters across the U.S.A.:
1. “If thou chooses to live in the suburbs, thou hast seven main choices for dining: Red Lobster, Applebee’s, Tumbleweed, Garfield’s, Olive Garden and a couple dubious Mexican restaurants.” 2. “Thou shalt dine on overpriced microwave meals at these establishments.”
3. “ Thou shalt wait long stretches of time, with 300-pound people on scooters, to dine on overpriced microwave meals.”
4. “Thou shalt not complain when microwave meal arrives cold and on dirty plate.”
5. “Thou shalt tip thy rude, inefficient server 20 percent, and thou shalt like it.”
There is one place, though. A wonderful place that isn’t Heath or Zanesville. A place with options. Smokey Bones! Logan’s Roadhouse! TGIFriday’s! O’Charlie’s! Panera Bread! Longhorn Steakhouse!
All chain restaurants, yes, but DIFFERENT chains.
The place? Pickerington, Ohio. Or, as my husband calls it, “Freakin’ Pickerington.”
Because Pickerington has one problem: It’s 30 minutes west, the same direction as Columbus. The same direction as dummies in traffic. The same direction as WORK. This causes the husband to say:
“I’m NOT driving to Freakin’ Pickerington!”
Heath is 22 minutes away. Zanesville is 21 minutes away. So Pickerington, with its plethora of dining options, lies only 7 to 8 minutes further than the other two towns. But still, the husband says:
“I’m NOT driving to Freakin’ Pickerington!”
I long for Pickerington. I dream of Pickerington. But I’ve been married to the man for 16 years. I’ve given up. Because he’s definitely NOT driving to Freakin’ Pickerington!
Still - every year, around soul-killing February, I dream of a meal that doesn’t include Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Especially on Valentine’s Day, I drool for Fancy-Pants Pickerington and its smorgasbord of chain restaurants that aren’t Dead Lobster et. al. So last week, I threw down the usual hint for my ‘dinner out’ gift:
“Ahem. Where are you taking me for Valentine’s Day?” I said.
“Someplace nice...someplace you like,” he said.
“Oh great!” I said. “That’s so exciting! Where are we going?”
“Well...” he said, “do you want to go to the Heath Ruby Tuesday? Or the Zanesville Ruby Tuesday?”
Dawn Weber is a Brownsville wife and working mother of two pre-teens. She blogs at http:// www.lightenupweber.blogspot.com