Lois loves to eat at Red Lobster. I have never understood that. It’s not that she loves exotic sea food. She never really orders sea food. She likes fish nuggets. I could live the rest of my life very happily without ever going to Red Lobster and I am more than a little suspicious of fish nuggets even if they come with fancy garnishes.
My kind of food is down-home American mid-west kind of food like roast beef and mashed potatoes with brown gravy, corn and buttered rolls with home made apple pie and coffee for dessert. I really don’t have any idea how you can improve on that. I don’t mind a little variety in my diet. I also like fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and corn or peas with rolls and butter and homemade cherry pie and coffee for desert.
So when I pick the restaurant it is more likely Cracker Barrell then Chi Chis and more likely Bob Evans than Red Lobster unless I am being influenced by a certain brown-eyed woman. Bob Evans is from my native Ohio. It’s just good, wholesome down-home food. When you walk in there you feel a little more like you are in your grandma’s kitchen than a dark, seedy bar.
Our first meal as a married couple was at Bob Evans in Lima, Ohio the evening of September 8th 1979. Lois changed from her wedding dress to a pretty mint green dress in the car on the way down I-75. I was thrilled with the intimacy of being a married couple. As the sun was setting we stopped for our first meal as a family. I ordered chicken noodles. Hearty chicken noodles have been on the Bob Evans menu for decades. It’s hard to improve on a dish like that.
So I like Bob Evans but still, Lois talks me into going to Red Lobster a couple times a year. A few years ago we stopped by a Red Lobster on a hot humid summer afternoon. The waitress said; “Hi, my name is Bridgett. I’ll be your server today. Our special is Raspberry Lemonade.” That sounded good to me, perfect for such a hot day. I ordered a Coke for Lois and told Bridgett, “I’ll take the special.” She brought our drinks and took our order and Lois and I chatted while we waited for our food. I drank my raspberry lemonade. Soon Bridgett was back and said; “You put that away quick. Do you want another?”
“Refills are free, right?”
She laughed. I said, “Well, just bring me a water I guess.”
We soon got our meals and ate. When I called for the bill I was surprised that it was bigger than I expected. I was shocked to discover that the “special” Bridgett sold me cost me five dollars. That didn’t seem special to me. I think a dollar is a lot. I couldn’t believe I let someone sell me a glass of lemonade for five dollars. I was frustrated and I let the hostess know on the way out the door. I thought about that all the way home. The next day at the study I thought about it again. I decided to call Red Lobster and complain. I looked up the toll-free number on their web-site and called them.
I told the customer representative the story and she said; “The reason the drink was five dollars is because it had alcohol in it.”
“Oh, no I said. That’s not possible. I have never had a drop of alcohol in my life.”
“Well, you have now,” she said.
I didn’t think she was funny. I have told people for years, “I have never had a drink of alcohol in my life.” I have always enjoyed telling them that. Other sins can be real hard for me but abstaining from alcohol had never been that difficult.
“No, if I drank alcohol I think I would know it,” I answered. “Will you please call the restaurant and ask them if the Raspberry Lemonade they called their special yesterday had alcohol in it?”
She said, “I’ll give them a call and get right back with you.” In a few minutes my phone rang and the church secretary said with a questioning tone; “Pastor, it’s Red Lobster. Do you want to talk to them?”
“Go ahead and put them through.”
“Mr. Pierpont, I called the Muskegon Red Lobster and the Raspberry Lemonade you drank yesterday had a few ounces of vodka in it.”
God moves in a mysterious way to bring his children to new levels of humility. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it to say, “I have never intentionally had a drink in my life.” I hung up the phone in disbelief.
I always ask now whenever I order something to drink, “You will refill it often for free, right?” That embarrasses Lois, but I think they should be embarrassed for what they charge for a glass of lemonade. Then I always say, “That doesn’t have any alcohol in it, does it?” I’ve been on the wagon now for years and I can’t be too careful.