J and I just spent another weekend up in DC, this time to attend a cocktail party thrown by dear family friends, as well as show J's parents the bay, where we will throw a rockin' party in a mere few weeks, after we are wed in an incredibly long and probably tedious ceremony. The party is meant to soothe the nerves of those wedding guests who are not Catholic and don't understand all the hubbub surrounding our union with Jesus Christ. Those wedding guests who think our wedding ceremony, like everyone else's, will last about 15 minutes. Oh man, are you guys going to be pissed. On the way back last night I watched the road signs carefully, as I've got a new favorite activity to make the four-hour drive bearable, and that's listening to books on CD. Specifically, books on CD rented from Cracker Barrel, where they've got a program. The program goes like this: You rent the CD's, listen, and then take them back to any Cracker Barrel in the U.S. for a full refund of the price of the item, minus a small usage fee. Luckily in the South there's a Cracker Barrel 'round every corner. Unfortunately, that hasn't prevented me from accidentally keeping about three of these rentals so long that my charges got high enough and there was no use bringing the thing back. Still I take part.
I've never really liked Cracker Barrel - not the food or the people who work there or anything like that. It's just that cookie-cutter "General Store" atmosphere. I mean, I know I can travel down the road to Morrisville, or Henderson, or any other town in Southeast on my travels back and forth to plan above mentioned party, and there's the same "General Store" with the same products, and I swear to the Lord, sometimes what looks like the same customers. And last time I was there, I was forced to wait at the checkout counter for some time (probably so they could create a "DO NOT SELL BOOKS ON CD TO THIS GIRL" profile by secretly snapping my picture and digging up a database of how many "NY Times bestsellers" I'd failed to return) and while I stood, I checked out some of the items for sale, like the "Grammaws oatmeal cookies" and "Auntie Pauline's apple cobbler" candles, and all I could think was "Hey, let's not teach people to say 'Grammaw' ok?" and I just wanted to get my book on CD and get out of there.
The thing is that lately, every time, I see somebody, like some kid yelling for candy or a huge family that obviously gets together every Sunday for dinner or somebody's grammaw being led out to the car by her son in law or whoever and, just for a moment, Cracker Barrel is my favorite place - on the highway, anyway. All of them, stretching out like beacons that light my way home.