Some people hanker for swanky restaurants with sparkling crystal, candlelight, and bite-sized portions of something so expensive it should have its own security system. Rarely am I in the mood for New York anything.
Walking into a Cracker Barrel restaurant evokes an almost visceral response from me. It's the only restaurant where I'm elated to wait 25 minutes for a table. I love cruising the gift shop and autumn is absolutely the best time for it. I happily sniffed the pumpkin candles, bought a coffee mug I don't need, and accepted a squirt of Dionis hand lotion from a solicitous clerk.
I was almost sad when our name was finally called for a table. It was hard to believe we only waited 25 minutes. The parking lot was crammed, and vehicles spilled on the street. As I sipped my delicious coffee and nibbled on the biscuits which almost magically appeared, I had a moment for reflection. What is it about a Cracker Barrel that puts me on such a high that it should be illegal?
The best answer I can give is that I have an innate longing for an uncomplicated life. There are times I don't want to think about the recession, health care reform, or my carbon footprint. I need an escape from the ACLU, swine flu, and Hugo Chavez. I also need a meal once in awhile when I don't bother to count calories, carbs, or cholesterol.
When I walk through the doors at Cracker Barrel, at each turn I see something reminiscent of an earlier, simpler life. I once bought a flutophone packaged in the same red, white and black box I remember when I received my first one in third grade. Today, no one seems to even remember them.
Cracker Barrel reminds me of days I jumped in piles of leaves raked together at the end of the porch, when my only worry was avoiding the persimmons lurking unseen. The roaring fireplace reminds me of campfires, toasted marshmallows, and board games we used to play before the advent of digital TV, the internet and I-pods.
Evidently I'm not the only one who needs to unplug. Judging from the crowds, plenty of my Jessamine County friends must feel the same way. Long live Cracker Barrel. If you see me there, don't be afraid to stop by and say "hey." You'll be able to recognize me by the silly grin on my face.