I have a tendency to be ignorant on basic rules of etiquette. There are some things, though, that strike me as so obvious that even I understand them.
Let’s say that someone who moved away a long while back is coming in town. You’re talking about having dinner together. Where do you eat?
To me, the correct answer is “Within reason, anywhere they want to eat.” Especially if there is a strong preference involved.
Whenever I return to Dixie, I almost always have a hit list of places I want to eat. I don’t necessarily expect to hit all of them, mind you, but I like to fill as many open meals with these places as possible.
I used to run into this with my father a lot. One of the hardest things about leaving my pocket of the South, at least in terms of food, was actually a regional fast food joint, which I will call Happy Burger. Their breakfasts are especially good. More than that, I have so many fond memories of the place from when I was growing up. Yet over and over again, when I would come home and Dad and I would do our breakfast, he would agitate going to Denny’s.
Back in the day, we almost never went to Denny’s. Happy Burger was cheaper. But he figured that since my being at home was a special treat, we should go eat at Denny’s because it’s nicer. It actually took a long time to be able to articulate why I wanted to go to Happy Burger.
I visited a friend in the southwest, who just absolutely insisted that I needed to go try out this pho place. Except having lived there for a while, I already knew exactly where I wanted to eat. My list of places to eat was already long, and I was more anxious to return to food that I knew that I loved and couldn’t get than to – best case scenario – find some new outstanding place I wouldn’t be able to eat at again except in competition with every other restaurant in the city I love during rare return visits. We ate pho. It was okay. I don’t really like pho.
It happened again this last trip. Where the decision was between McDonald’s or Happy Burger. My attempts to explain that we can eat at McDonald’s any time and I wouldn’t have a chance at eating at Happy Burger for another four months was outvoted because McDonald’s would save us five minutes and has a special deal on free coffee.
(Once we got there, I ended up getting right back in the car and driving 20 miles back to go to Happy Burger. I literally missed the breakfast menu by two minutes. I would love to say that I responded to all of this gracefully.)