We had eaten a big lunch. Couldn’t help ourselves. Any place named Ben Jr.’s. Barbecue deep in the south in a shack with a line out the door a full hour after a lunch rush must be great. It was — and that was Ben Jr.’s. Imagine how good Sr.’s must be?
Dinnertime rolled around and neither of us were hungry, but it’s what you do come 6 p.m. Habit overtakes hunger a lot of the time, so we made a valiant attempt at filling our pie holes once again. Never mind that we were still reeling with that bloated feeling that accompanies BBQ stacked so high that a toothpick the size of a 16 penny nail was needed to hold it in place. Nope, the dinner bell rang, so we responded.
The only thing better than Southern hospitality is a Southern accent. I mean a deep, slow drawl that takes two-syllable words and stretches them to six. Our waitress was all that. She was young, cute and full of the hospitality that makes Alabama famous. I’m pretty sure she had never been north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
The menu teased me enough that I wanted the cheese plate. Lacking in description, I asked Christin, our waitress, what was included. Put on your best Southern drawl when reading this response: “Well, let’s see, there’s some cheese — a little of this and a little of that, and there’s some crackers, different kinds, you know. And let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, there are some jellies and ‘what nots.’” (“Jellies” is one of those words that a Southern accent does real justice to. It ends up sounding like “jaaaaaayyyyylllllleeeeeezzzzzzz.”)
I’m sure the chef would cringe over his hard work being described in such a manner. I, on the other hand, was mesmerized. She had me at “what nots.” “I’ll take it,” I said.
Liz and I laughed numerous times on the way home about how much we loved the “what nots” reference. We thought of the many ways we could use it. In fact, I think “what nots” will be the featured cuisine at this year’s Thanksgiving feast. Put on your best Southern drawl for the full effect: “Well, I think we’ll have some turkey, dressin’, some sweet taters, and some maters too, definitely some cornbread, green beans with those little dried onion things on top, mashed taters, cranberry sauce and some warm, homemade bread bathed in butter — real butter. For dessert, we’ll have a table full of ’what nots.’”
Oh, I do love the South. Folks are kind, respectful, loving and at peace. They seem at peace, and their slow, steady pace reflects it. There is plenty of time for conversation, good wishes and a smile. Yeah, they may sound funny to some, but we could all learn a lesson from their laid-back charm and their Godly ways.
Next time you’re in the South, ask for some “what nots” to add to your dining pleasure. They were great.