So 25 years ago today, a lovely young woman flipped her last initial from a W to an M.
In commemoration of the fact that she hasn’t chucked me out over the ensuing 25 years, I wrote her a poem (as is our custom) and we headed about 25 miles up the interstate to a seafood restaurant in the town that is home to Mondoville College’s erstwhile arch-rival. We had never been there before, but the place came recommended by some of Mrs. M’s coworkers, and the menu looked promising, so we decided to give it a go. We’re glad we did.
We got there a bit early in the evening — in the 5 p.m. range or so — and as a consequence were among the younger diners during our visit. While I don’t know if there’s an early bird special per se, our fellow patrons seemed the demographic for that sort of thing. Mrs. M and I laughed about it a bit as we walked in.
The decor is not especially fancy — the restaurant sits just off the Interstate, in front of a Quality Inn; the architecture betrays the building’s origins as a chain steak house; and the furniture tends toward the tables and banquettes one finds at a Shoney’s or similar eatery — but there’s a nice water feature along one wall and the place is really comfortable and welcoming.
Our waitress was equally friendly, and seemed really delighted to hear of our special occasion. We ordered beverages and an appetizer, both of which arrived with celerity. For dinner, Mrs. M ordered grilled salmon, while I stayed true to my Southern working-class heritage and ordered fried fish and fried potato wedges. As we waited, we laid into a complimentary basket of hush puppies (done in what I’ve come to think of as the sweeter, African American style, as opposed to the more savory Southern white folks’ version) and laughed about the goings-on at our jobs.
The food arrived high in both quality and quantity. My two grouper fillets were substantial — large enough to conceal the spuds beneath — and cooked quite nicely, with a cornmeal batter that was neither heavy nor greasy. The meat itself was light as well, and good enough that I only used a little malt vinegar. Mrs. M’s salmon was equally impressive, and came with a baked sweet potato and cinnamon butter (and I also gave her my cole slaw, but I’m generous like that.)
As we were wrapping that up, the serving crew approached with a couple of complimentary slices of cheesecake and a song offering the restaurant’s good wishes for our anniversary. Yeah, it was about as bourgeois as one could ask, but for a girl from an Appalachian holler and a guy from a blue-collar subdivision in Nashville, bourgeois has its charms — especially when it comes with cheesecake and hush puppies.
But even better than the meal (terrific as it was) is the fact that we’ve made it this far. My mom and dad used to say that the two toughest years of marriage are the first one and whichever one you happen to be in at the time, but they stuck together for 46 years. Mrs. M and I have made it more than half that far now, and that’s not too shabby.
Happy Silver Anniversary, Deb — I love you.
(And in honor of the occasion, here’s the tune that was “our song” during our dating days, and our first dance as a married couple. From 1965, here are the Vogues, with “Five O’Clock World.”)