My Southern name is “Darlin.”
There are lots of other people named “Darlin,” too. I am also, “Baby Girl,” and just like Darlin, there are many people named Baby Girl, too.
I love being called Darlin or Baby Girl. It makes me feel special.
Down at Ebenezer Grill, where we have breakfast a couple of mornings a week, there is a waitress who exudes Southern hospitality. She is what I would term a “spitfire.”
She is short, Peter Pan-ish, has short white hair, and zips to and fro, hugging regulars and greeting everyone like it is her party.
“Hi, Baby Girl,” she says, “Y’all wantin’ some coffee?”
Nick gets coffee and I order unsweet iced tea with two lemons, which she brings before we have our paper towel napkins on our laps.
“What-chu gonna have today?”
I hop on the like apple jelly at a Pigeon Forge restaurant, and say, “Blueberry pancakes and bacon, please.”
Nick takes a bit longer, trying to decide whether to get his regular corned beef hash, two eggs over hard, sausage and wheat toast, or be adventurers and order something else.
“One biscuit with gravy and sausage and an egg over hard.”
“It’s a great day to be alive,” our little spright might say, before she whisks our order back and yells something to another customer.
I blink and she is to the door of the restaurant, greeting an older lady with a hug.
“I’m glad to see you,” she says. “Where you been?”
She listens and then says, “Sit wherever you want,” and the couple ambles to a table set for 15.
That’s a big group at Ebenezer’s, as it is a small place with a big presence.
They have the best hot dogs in the county. It says so on the sign. Who am I to argue about that?
We like to sit at the counter. That’s where you can strike up a conversation with someone. I have asked lots of men about snakes, Rock Hill, what they like to do. But a lot of times, I listen to conversations among the customers. That is where I learn the fun stuff.
I might be wrong, but I am of the opinion that if a conversation is taking place in a restaurant, it is a public conversation, available to listening ears and inquiring minds.
I hear dialogue that is much more interesting and outrageous from what I can make up as a writer.
At Ebenezer, you learn if a house burnt down or if someone is having surgery or if someone’s spouse ran off with a ho. Who would leave their spouse for an angel?
And it wouldn’t be unusual for a couple of days after the news of burnt house or the person who had surgery and is now out of work and having trouble paying bills, to get a healthy monetary contribution from the customers and workers donations that have been collected at Ebenezer’s. You see, this Ebenezer, is no Scrooge.
I chat with the woman behind the counter every time and the other waitress know us now, too. We talk Charleston and the beach and the mountains and life and laugh at the insanity of it all. As someone said, “It is Cheers without the liquor.”
Although we aren’t old-timers, like some who have been coming to Ebenezer’s for years and years, they know us now.
And Friday, we made it official. I wrote our names on the wall with a magic marker. I put a heart around our names, as I always do.
We don’t leave quietly from Ebenezer. No one does. Just as you are greeted when you come in, you are greeted when you leave.
“Have a great day,” or “See you next time,” are said by someone.
Before we open the door to leave, we look back and say, “Have a great day.”
And I think we all really mean it.