The Rockin’ A Cafe is right on Main Street and it’s time for breakfast. The Rockin’ A is owned and operated by the Kenton undertaker. Business was slow one year and he needed to assuage a slight tinge of guilt knowing there someone had to die for him to make a living. So he opened the Cafe.
We pull off the road and into the parking lot. Ours is the little red rental car. Almost every other vehicle here is an oversized pickup truck. We notice nothing unusual about the place, unless it’s uncommon that…
. the curtains, which are made of Native style blankets with fringe, are pulled back from the windows by coiled ropes hung on horseshoes and…
. we take our napkins from horseshoe napkin holders and…
. we hang our jackets on horseshoe coat hangers and…
. horseshoes are drawn on the menu.
Wouldn’t surprise me if the A of the Rockin’ A Cafe rocked on horseshoes. It doesn’t. It should.
The booths with formica topped tables are full of people with, to be honest, big guts, ball caps, blue jeans and T-shirts stretched over their big guts. These folks talk slow. Some patrons are enormous and some are even bigger — one literally has to squeeeeeze into her booth. As they talk with each other, we overhear their names: Travis, Melroy, Raylene, Harlan, “the Queen,” Rufus and Bean.
These folks have a sense of humor. Look at the signs…
NEVER KICK A COW CHIP ON A HOT DAY
$5 FOR WHINING,
$10 FOR BEING A PAIN IN THE BUTT
MEN ARE GOD’S GAG GIFT TO WOMEN
YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID
GUNS ONLY HAVE TWO ENEMIES — RUST AND POLITICIANS
and a plaque on the wall with gun pointed right at you…
WE DON’T DIAL 911
Everyone in the restaurant is white and they all seem to know each other. Lisa comments that she hopes we haven’t chosen someone’s regular table. We hear one patron refer to “the other restaurant,” as if there are only two restaurants in this town. There are three.
On our way out, as she counts out our change, our waitress/cashier smiles real pretty and comments, “Have a nice trip.” How did she know we’re from away? She’s not the only one. A number of people on this trip see us as outsiders.
I think, weirdly, it almost takes an outsider to be able to — with no cynicism — look at small-town America and realize how fantastic it is.