Taking a small break from “Blogging Manassas”. The final installment will be up later tonight or tomorrow…
We all know that the exotic land of New Jersey, rife with its traffic, taxes, and morons, is a land unlike any other, and so, when I found out I was taking this four day excursion to Manassas, Virginia to cover the World Premiere of Gods and Generals, I thought I was going to get a break from all that. My readers know of my “Week in Review” articles, where I muse on Sunday nights about all the wonderful things to occur in my life in the seven days prior. Now that I am back from this great state, which I never again hope to sleep over in, I can tell you what happened to me in these four days, film premiere excluded, because that was an awesome event. Please enjoy [if you can].
- If you read my journal on our first day in Manassas, then you will know that Murphy’s Law was in effect for us, you know, the one where it says whatever can go wrong will go wrong? Well, it was fitting that we ate at the Philly Tavern in Old Town Manassas that night, because the experience was strange; not awful, strange. We looked at the menu online before we left, which was pretty big and had a lot of good selections. When we arrived, we found that they had switched to a one page menu in order to handle the supposedly massive crowd that was going to overtake their establishment that weekend. Whatever. When the waitress took my order, I asked for a grilled chicken Caesar salad. She then proceeded to stare at me for what seemed like ten seconds, before bopping her head up and down to write the order. She said, “I don’t know why I had to think about that.” I replied, “I don’t either, cause I’m staring right at it on the menu.” The food was alright, there was plenty of chicken on my dish but it felt like strips of rubber. Jeff’s pasta had come with a piece of garlic bread, and being Italian, I thought I could get one too. I flagged down the nearest waitress, because ours had seemingly disappeared, and asked for this monumental favor. She too stared at me before saying that it was alright. Two minutes later, our waitress came over and said, “You asked for garlic bread?” to which I nodded. She then walked away without saying anything. It was now getting awkward. You can charge me for it if you want! Twenty minutes later, when the meal was at completion, the elusive piece of bread with butter and garlic powder arrived. I wonder if they had to knead the dough in order to make it. Before I left, I went to use the restroom, and as I was washing my hands, I just happened to turn sideways and notice that there was a hole in the door. After looking at that, then at the toilet, it was then that I realized that if you sat down to take a dump and looked through the hole, you could see a family of four eating their dinner.
- The next morning (you will notice that most of these stories involve waitresses), we went to the Jukebox Diner on Sudley Road, which is their main highway. We knew there was going to be trouble when we walked in and saw that the eating area the size of a football field had only two tables taken, us being the third. There was also a sign on their front door reading “Training Mode” and that the official opening was not for a few weeks. Surprisingly, even in this stage, the food was excellent. However, once again, the service was just a little strange. Being that there were three waitresses working and only three tables, the one we had was watching us like a hawk. She kept coming over and talking to us, which would have been great, but this was the morning of the Premiere, and that is where our thoughts were. She kept telling me how the coffee was so good, even though I was on my second cup with no complaints. She then asked me three times in a row, without drawing a breath in machine-gun style speed, “Do you like the coffee?” I replied, “It’s very good.” She then went on to tell us that it is the same coffee they serve at the Ritz Carlton. Sure, lady. Someone just had fun with your very feeble mind when they told you that. Later on in
the conversationour breakfast, Jeff and I were trying to place her accent, because it did not sound regional. We figured we would ask her. This is where the quote of the century occurs, and I sure hope you are sitting down. This is the quote that put the exclamation point on our trip. This endearing set of words will be handed down into posterity for generations to analyze. I asked this portly woman, “Were you born here?” She thought for a quick second before answering in a matter-of-fact tone, “Well, actually, I was born at a hospital.” It was right then and there that I knew I had to get the hell out of Virginia.
- Some people have asked me, “How do you know she wasn’t joking around with you with her response?” My answer to that is simple and correct: because she explained how “momma” was pregnant and bursting at the seams, apparently driving herself to the hospital, and almost gave birth right there in the car on the local interstate. Check, please! Do I have to leave a tip?
- Just a few quick thoughts of something at the premiere, and this is in regards to the other members of the press. I do not want to throw anybody under the bus, but because I do not know their names or media outlets, it is alright. Let’s just say that Jeff and I were a bit overdressed for the occasion. Silly me, I thought that a Hollywoodesque premiere would allow for jeans, a dress shirt, and suit jacket, but after looking at the other reporters, boy was I wrong! Slobs. As I was waiting for Ron Maxwell to finish talking to someone so I could introduce myself, I was confronted by a man in an orange shirt which was matted to his body with sweat, shorts, and a hat. He then began to talk to me like his long-lost best friend, telling me about his paper and wanting to get me an issue along with his business card. Now, I could not have distanced myself from this fool any further, because even as I was ignoring him, trying to walk away, and standing on tip-toes to see if Ron was done, he kept going, shoving his paper in my face. Finally, I just grabbed the damn thing. I smiled at him as I thought to myself, “I have your paper, now get the hell away from me.” There was also another reporter who was so fat he could not sit, stand, or walk around. This is not an issue, but he smelled horribly, something we noticed during the intermission when I had to walk past him at the end of my row. He was so fat, that when his camera was resting around his neck and on his chest, he did not even have to pick it up to aim, he could have just hit the button right from where it was. Okay, so maybe I was overdressed, but you would think that at a world premiere with people from Hollywood and world-renown historians attending, these people could have actually worn jeans and maybe a nice button-down shirt. Would it have killed them?
- One more thing had to happen in a restaurant, because things happen in three’s. This is not something major, but it is noteworthy because it has never happened to me before in my entire life. We were eating dinner that night at a Denny’s a little before midnight. The place was packed (who would have thunk it?) and even though we asked for a table, we were still taken to a booth. Okay, never mind. It was when the waitress brought our food that it happened. Maybe it is a regular occurrence that has just eluded me, I do not know. When she placed our food down on the table, she hiccuped, right in our faces. I just started laughing because I was delirious with exhaustion by that point. All I could say to Jeff was, really?
- Finally, it is worthy to take note of the amount of 7/11’s in the area. No joke, there is probably one on every single street corner and shopping complex. There are so many 7/11 convenience stores that there is actually one corner with two right next to each other, one that gas gas pumps and the other without. Don’t believe me? Take a drive down Sudley Road and see for yourself. It was like a vortex that could cause the end of the world. Walk out of one 7/11 and right into another. Boom. Fire and destruction. Surely this must be an episode of The Twilight Zone. As Jeff so elegantly noted, “You can’t swing a dead cat down here without hitting a 7/11.”
I have never been so happy to see New Jersey as I was on Saturday afternoon. Oh glorious Garden State, how I love thee!