Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, my sisters and I were sheltered from much of the world. For instance, we felt the JCPenney catalog represented the essence of fashion. Without so much as even a McDonald’s in our town, we never ate out for dinner, because doing so could only involve going to the local tavern.
The afternoon Mom found out I had been going to the local tavern everyday after school, was not a good one. She didn’t seem to get it when I explained that it was the only place in town with the brand-new Ms PacMan arcade game. It was obvious that up to that point, I had never “shocked” and “disappointed” her so much. (No, not even when I fought with my sisters on the way home from church.)
Since going out to eat in our town was next to impossible, whenever Grandpa Littlefield would come to visit, he would take us to the next town over for dinner at Pizza Hut. That was a major deal. He made sure the waitress brought us a big pitcher of root beer and a massive pepperoni pizza. We made sure to eat and drink so much, so that at least one of us would end up puking all night. Interestingly enough, Grandpa would order a Grandpa-Root-Beer-with-a-wink for himself, which was lighter and more golden than our own dark-colored beverages.
The first time I ate at a Denny’s was a major turning point. I was 16 and had been brought there for lunch by a cute, but slightly older guy. They brought my sandwich, cut into fourths, with these fancy toothpicks poking up in the middle of each piece. I had no idea what to do! Do I take the toothpicks out? Do I pick up the sandwiches with the toothpicks still in them and try to eat around the tiny wooden sticks? Oh, how my heart was pounding on that one.
Needless to say, we (my sisters and I) have come a long way since then. So far in fact, that while talking to my sister Jackie yesterday, she proudly announced that she had finally eaten sushi. “Really?” I asked. “At a sushi bar or where?” “I dunno,” she started to recall, “It was a restaurant that serves only sushi.” “Okay,” I reasoned out loud, “Then it was probably a sushi bar. Cool, what did you have?” “Imitation krab!” she answered. “Was it raw imitation krab?” I asked, “Because that’s barely even fish so you can’t really count that as sushi.” “Of course you can,” she countered. “It was in a sushi roll.”
And so we Iowa-bred babes continue to broaden our minds as well as our palates.