“Boy, do I hate being right all the time.” – Ian Malcolm (Jurassic Park)
Approximately three-years-ago, we met briefly in a 1950’s theme restaurant called Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner.
You were wearing a blue and white pantsuit, with a name tag that read: HI, I’M CHERYL… ASK ME ABOUT MARY KAY! This is how I remember your name as you didn’t formally introduce yourself. You were seated in the booth next to me, with a man that looked to be around sixty-five, who I assumed to be your husband.
If you don’t recall our chance meeting, let me remind you… Peggy Sue’s is a restaurant-like time-machine that transports it’s visitors back to a simpler time in the 1950’s. The burgers have been given names like “THE CHUBBY CHECKER CHEESEBURGER” and the “FABIEN FRENCH DIP.” And the staff is required to wear outfits that make them look like Flo from Mel’s Diner.
I was seated with my child, an eighteen-month old, with a runny nose and a lot of energy. I was wearing the same black yoga pants I had worn for two days, with some shirt I bought a Target that my child had accessorized with the remnants of old Cheerios, some spill stains, and probably a booger or two.
You might not remember what I was wearing though… as we were seated in a booth that had a genuine autographed framed picture of Annette Funicello (one of the original Mouseketeers) hanging above it. She was a PRETTY BIG DEAL in the 1950’s.
If you don’t yet remember us… Perhaps this will jog your memory…
Part of the decor of this place, was this… Each table had a mini faux Juke Box melded into the end of the table, covered in buttons you could push to make the place seem more authentic. These Juke Boxes didn’t work, but you could twist the handles, and when you did, the entire thing would light up. In short, it was like a Fisher Price Toy complete with everything but a honking button.
My eighteen-month-old wanted to scream and push the buttons and turn the knobs on the juke box. She was L-O-U-D… So loud, in fact, that despite the music in the restaurant, you were annoyed. A number of sideways glances in my direction and some icy stares, let me know we were ruining the SOCK HOP.
We had already ordered… And so I handed my child an iPhone… Not exactly the best thing to do in a 1950’s diner, as you-and-I both know they didn’t even have those in the 1950’s and the introduction of something so modern was like the scene in BACK TO THE FUTURE, when Marty McFly shows up in the DeLorean and the guy thinks he’s an alien.
But alas… even though I pulled her favorite program at the time, a cartoon called SPECIAL AGENT OSO, about a bear who solves mysteries as banal as how to glue two pages together… It was no match for that juke box!
If you will recall, it was at this point that our food came… Yay! I thought! I finally get to take a big bite of the 1950’s! And man, it was yummy! I ate what I like to call THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED MEAL…. The RITCHIE VALENS Burger, the BIG BOPPER FRIES, and the BUDDY HOLLY SHAKE.
Tragedy never tasted so delicious!
I tried not to mourn them as I ate, though, and how could I… My child had crawled beneath the table and was beating a spoon against bottom of it.
At this point, you looked in my direction, and said very pointedly… “That’s really loud.”
“I’m sorry,” I said to you then, and I honestly was.
It was at this point, that a better parent might’ve asked for a TO GO BOX, or a “DOGGY BAG” as they affectionately called them in the 1950’s when LASSIE was popular…
But, I was not that parent… I was too caught up in the magic of the 1950’s and the sweet sounds of JAILHOUSE ROCK and TUTTI FRUTTI…
Instead, I chose to continue eating as fast as possible while handing my child fries beneath the table, which she ate until… I think she bit her tongue… I don’t know, I wasn’t watching her… She was under the table.
It was then that you felt the need to say to your significant other, in a voice so loud it could be heard over the singing of Fats Domino… “SOME children are VERY well behaved. And THAT is the result of good parenting. I would NEVER have let my child get away with this kind of behavior in public. NEVER!!!”
And then… The restaurant was silent… Except for my child who was still very loud.
You had, after all, raised your child during a time, perhaps the 1950’s… When everything was better and children were required to behave….
It was official…
I had been publically shamed in a 1950’s Theme Restaurant by someone alive during the 1950’s…
What a disgrace and also a “goocher,” a 1950’s term used to describe an unlikely coincidence.
At that point, I wiped as much ketchup as I could off my yoga pants… and I took my child to the restroom… Just like a parent in the 1950’s might do… A restroom… which I noted was thankfully NOT labled WHITES ONLY, as many of the restrooms were during the 1950’s in America…
I realized she needed a diaper change, and lucky-for-me, there was a changing table… Which they didn’t have in the 1950’s as the women during that period had perfect babies that only pooped at home where their mothers, women who baked pies and constantly re-applied lipstick, changed them using only cloth diapers they washed by hand and hung on a clothesline to dry.
When I think back on that encounter, CHERYL… And I have many times, I wish that I could apologize to you.
I know you paid good money to eat at an establishment that celebrates a time in America when everything was as it should be… Families were together… Children obeyed their parents…
I see now what a distraction my child and I were, not just with our iPhone, but by the fact that we weren’t acting like the good families of the 1950’s.
For that, I am sorry.
The 1950’s were a really swell time… Full of lots of great beach movies and meatloafs…
Except for those people that were put on trial by Senator John McCarthy and accused of supporting Communism…
Except for that… the 50’s were GREAT!!!
As I quickly hustled to get my things together at the table, in a mad rush to get out of there… I remember Elvis Presley was belting out VIVA LAS VEGAS….And I again felt bad for tainting your experience of Elvis’ music…
I would NEVER want to do ANYTHING to get in the way of you hearing Elvis Presley… A man who shacked up with a fourteen-year-old girl, at the shock of NO ONE during the 1950’s…
Kind of like Jerry Lee Lewis, who actually MARRIED a 13-year-old during the 1950’s…
Oddly, I couldn’t find any references to these pre-teen girls on this menu!!!! Is it possible that someone could have at least name a “poached egg dish” after one of these young impressionable girls who were married before they started high school?!?!
I AM SO SORRY MY LOUD BABY RUINED YOUR WALK DOWN MEMORY LANE during this glorious and swell time celebrating teenage mothers and the threat of communism!!!
And Speaking of communism… When I glanced at this menu for the whole ten seconds I had with a baby crawling over me, I noticed there were no references to the testing of the atomic bomb and the nuclear warheads being built as a result of it, nor the fear and the immenint threat people felt as they constructed underground bomb shelters to protect themselves from something called THE COLD WAR…
I checked the menu online and THERE IS NO MILKSHAKE ON THE MENU CALLED “THE COLD WAR!”
What an oversight the owners had leaving the threat of communism out of a restaurant specifically designed to celebrate the 1950’s!!!!
There were a lot of things about the 1950’s that were left out of Peggy Sue’s Diner… I now realize, looking back on my time there… A lot of things… The racism… The communism… The McCarthyism… So many isms… AND THEN MY CRYING BABY ANNOYING YOU AS YOU TRIED TO CELEBRATE ALL OF THEM!!!!
I can now see why you would’ve shouted a public reprimand.
I’m sorry Cheryl… Sorry that your time at Peggy Sue’s Diner wasn’t all that you’d hoped it would be… And if I could go back in time, I would take a moment to “ask you about Mary Kay,” and then I would tell you Cheryl, that better days were coming. That the threat of communism would come to an end… That women would work… And a day was coming when it would be illegal to mary 13-year-olds.
But I can’t go back in time… I can only write this letter.
In conclusion, the 50’s sucked.
Amy (Jurassic Mom) Bridges