First of all, let me say once again, for the record, that I absolutely detest the coronavirus. It has destroyed so much of what was once a “normal” life in this country and in this world. It has framed plans for the future – like in our instance, going on a huge trip to celebrate both my retirement and our 40th anniversary together – and it has allowed political forces on both sides to mismanage our nation’s resources under the “excuse” of the pandemic. It has also just make doing the normal stuff of daily life a huge task, or requiring a bunch of additional steps, which, especially when you are thinking of heading out into the world, you have to almost think twice, even if you are totally vaccinated. By the way, don’t get me started on the situation in which millions of Americans went through to get the vaccinations, and now are told that we are still required to wear face masks in public…
I know there are tons of important and significant things that people are having to do that require a lot of sacrifice, but I am still irritated when it comes to trying to do something very simple, and “normal.” I just want to go out for breakfast.
Cheri has today off, and so we move into a far different schedule than up very early, get her to work, and then do the daily stuff until evening rolls around. When she’s home, we really do try to do different things – even though she likes to take on all sorts of chores and tasks, I like to find simply fun things to do that hopefully will get her to unwind a bit from the stress of working in a women’s clinic and dealing with anxiety and all the “needy needertons” that come to see her. One of those things in the past was to take the morning, and do some leisurely shopping – and to have breakfast out somewhere.
When the stupid pandemic hit, it crashed a bunch of our normal stuff. Restaurants were closed or did take out only. That’s fine if you are getting a burger or a chicken sandwich somewhere, but you know as well as I do that breakfast is a pretty fragile menu. Nicely fixed eggs and toast, and pancakes and even bacon tastes wonderful as it is served to you piping hot, but to pick up a meal in a Styrofoam container, and take it home, means that when you get there about 20 minutes later, you have dried up, slightly wet from the steam condensing, kind of cold food. That’s really not what I like to order. So as a result, we went months without going out for our day-off breakfast excursion. Yes, I know I’m whining, and there are far worse things, like respirators and intensive care units and not being able to taste or smell – but I just wanted some normal breakfast, that’s all.
Even sadder, with the closing or limiting of places to go and have some good food over the past months, some of our favorite places have just shuttered, gone out of business, and called it quits. I haven’t done a study, but it sure seems like there were more places that offered breakfast that croaked than others. Three particularly favorite spots have just gone away. Most recently, the one very good place – Village Inn – which was only about 5 minutes away from our house ended up selling their building in order to have a new bank be built on the site. Now, I’m not one to interfere with normal commerce, and I know that things get sold and bought continually as the need arises, but when you stand on the corner of 25th St. S and 32nd Ave. S, at present you can count five banks within a block of each other. Now, of course, you can count five banks, and a closed up restaurant, which over the coming months will become the sixth bank. You know, I may be wrong, but I don’t see a lot of folks standing in line to go into yet another bank. They aren’t serving pancakes – that’s for sure.
So, this morning, with black armbands still being worn and flags at half-staff for the Village Inn, Cheri and I began to think about going out for breakfast, since the powerful and great ones have allowed us to actually sit in a restaurant and not have to shove food through our facemasks. The question arose then, as to where? One thing I have discovered in all of this mess is that if the food wasn’t particularly good in a restaurant before the pandemic hit, it hasn’t improved. I consider three points of importance: food, atmosphere and noise. Yes, I know the last two are very similar, but I’m writing this, so I get to count it this way.
So, way up on the north end of the city is The Shack, which many believe to be the greatest all-time breakfast place in the known world (maybe there is one in the Amazon jungle, but it’s not been located). Occupying what was once a Country Kitchen, it is a pretty good place – the only trouble is, it’s about 40 minutes away, and the tables are perhaps 6 inches from each other, so you can easily see and smell what the folks next to you are eating. That’s ok, unless you ordered pancakes, and they are eating onion rings and broccoli.
Two other restaurants that are about 25 minutes away are CJ’s diner and Perkins. Now, again, CJ’s purports to be the greatest breakfast place since toast was invented, but I believe the whole place could fit inside my office – and the din, especially from different senior citizen groups that come in and order the “senior breakfast,” which is something like a half a pancake, half a piece of toast, half a piece of bacon and half an egg, all seem to have hearing problems, but refuse to invest in hearing aids, so their practice of communicating is better known as “yelling across the barnyard.” Perkins is nice, and is the exact clone of every other Perkins in America. I still hate the idea of adding nearly an hour of driving to my life, especially if we aren’t going to shop anywhere close by afterwards. Everyone of course likes the blueberry muffins…
That leaves us with one more breakfast diner place that doesn’t require a short plane flight. It’s only about 10 minutes or so away, which sounds reasonable. Unless you want to park in the back, however, and have to put on your hiking boots to get to the only entrance, which of course is on the opposite side of the building from the parking lot, you have to try to score one of the ten slots in front of the place, which must have been put in by engineers from San Francisco, since the angle of the parking spots requires you to put on your emergency brake, and hang on to the car when you step out. Now, this is in Fargo, where the only change in elevation is the dike by the Red River, where the kids go sledding in the winter. There are no hills – no rises – no high spots, except at the restaurant.
Even worse, it’s called “Randy’s” – which you would think would immediately tell everyone how great a place it must be! Unfortunately, the last remodel of the place looks like it happened about the year I was born, with duct tape over the tears in the vinyl seats. Whenever I have suggested going there to Cheri, her response has been, “Really? Didn’t we try that once?” And we did. And six years later, it’s not going to happen again. Sorry, Randy’s.
So, I did decide to have breakfast at Randy’s this morning. In our kitchen, as I whipped up some eggs, and enjoyed them piping hot. The only thing is, on a day when you really just want to go out for breakfast, it feels like the pandemic won a round, when instead, you are at home, and are your own cook, customer and server. Again, not complaining – just a little.
Some of our decisions in life are between two wonderful options – either one will be wonderful and enjoyable. Sometimes, however, our decisions are between two options we’d rather not select at all. If we are living an intentional life, we can always choose the third way, and perhaps say that some other day we will try again, and to simply enjoy the good parts of what today brings, instead of wishing it would be something different, like an open Village Inn… this will eventually change, and then we will all have a reason to celebrate – big time.
Word for the day: amphibology. Pronounced am-fih-BALL-uh-gee. Kind of neat word that describes a particular part of our language. From the Greek, two well-known words, amphi, which means “both,” and ballein, which means “to throw” (probably where we get the word, “ball”). Put them together, and you have the word that means a sentence or a phrase that can be heard at least two different ways. “Nothing is good enough for you!” can mean that you are never pleased with what you have, or it can mean that all you deserve is … nothing… The scientific term is “syntactic ambiguity,” which again is simply the confusion or uncertainty as to how a sentence is to be understood.
I remember for years during the Christmas Eve service when the bible story was read, to be very careful with the sentence, “And they came at once, and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.” I would always pause after, “Joseph,” just so folks weren’t hearing that it must have a been a very crowded situation in the manger…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.