Monday, August 20, 2012

Life in Grand Junction: A Close Encounter

On Saturday night, Nan and I went to our local Red Robin for an inexpensive dinner out. It was a nice evening, cooler than it has been, so we opted for a table outside on the patio. We chatted about our upcoming vacation, sipped our wine, ate our burgers, and watched the sun slowly sink behind the Chick-fil-A across the street. Just a typical dining experience. But then it got weird.

The eleven- or twelve-year-old girl sitting with her mother at a table near ours stood up suddenly, went to the table across from us, where a family of five were seated, and yelled at the mother, "Stop staring at me!" Everyone on the patio stopped eating. It got very quiet. The girl returned to her table and sat looking at her mother. Neither said anything.

People looked around at one another with expressions of "What was that all about?!" on their faces. We made eye contact with the man of the family, who said, "She wasn't staring. She was just talking to her son and that girl was behind him." The mother looked shaken and close to tears.

The girl and her mother paid their bill quickly and stood up to leave. The man stood up and intercepted them. He asked why the mother would let her daughter speak to an adult with such disrespect. The mother said, "I don't f--king care." The man stared in disbelief as the girl and her mother walked quickly away.

As he returned to his table, the man announced to everyone within earshot that if he had ever spoken to someone in that way, his father would have whipped his ass right there in the restaurant. There were murmurs of agreement all around. Seated again, the man said, "Did you smell that woman's perfume? It was enough to make me gag! I had to go out and smoke a cigarette just to get away from it. If they thought we were staring at them, then that's why!" He took off his camouflage baseball cap, brushed his hair back with his hand, replaced the cap, and sat back in his chair with a deep sigh.

The man and his family paid their bill and stood to leave. At the exit, he turned and said loudly enough for all to hear, "Y'know, I don't vote Republican!" He paused. "I may be a redneck, but I'm not stupid!" He paused again. "I'm a union member!" He threw up his hands for dramatic effect and then turned to go. Nan and I cheered and clapped, joined by several others.

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