My dad was recently in the Myrtle Beach area and couldn't get over the fact there were waiting lists to sit down and eat dinner. Granted, there are seemingly hundreds of thousands of diners, restaurants, bars, cafés, fast-food chains, sandwich shops, pizza joints and just about everything in between to select from.
I'm not saying you can't find places where you can walk up to the door and immediately be seated in the Myrtle Beach area. Those places just weren't where he wanted to eat.
What made me laugh about the whole situation was such words were being uttered by my father.
This is a man who thought nothing about driving several hours to have dinner at a restaurant where you had to put your name on a list to stand in line for up to two hours before finally being seated.
Add the time it took to eat and the ride home and you've got a full evening that would probably have driven lots of folks crazy today, especially in these times of wanting instant gratification.
Luckily, my dad hooked up with another fellow who thought nothing of being in a car for hours only to reach the destination and have to stand in line before being able to eat. My parents were good friends with the parents of a good friend of mine, Mike. We would do lots of things together, including Boy Scout activities, going to amusement parks and going out to dinner.
The six of us going out to dinner was certainly an adventure. Typically, it would start out something like this.
"Hey Skip, Ducky and Jim wanted to know if you wanted to go out to dinner Saturday?" my mom would ask dad. He would answer, "Sure. Tell them that sounds good. Maybe we could try that place so-and-so was telling me about down the Shore."
And so it began. Mike and I didn't dare ask where we were going or how long it would take to get there. It really didn't matter. We were going and that's all there was to it. The thing was, wherever we went, the food was incredible, and so we really didn't want to miss out.
He and I would argue like brothers about who was going to sit in the front seat with the men or who was going to sit with the women in the back. That was back when cars had bench seats and three could sit in the front and back comfortably and when seat belts were hardly ever thought about. Sitting in the back did have a benefit. The one who sat there could bother the heck out of the one up front. Ear flicks were not off limits.
I have to admit, our parents were pretty funny. Mike's dad was a cop in Jersey City and had plenty of stories to tell. My dad would tell about something fun someone did at work. My mom and Mike's mom had their share of jokes to tell.
All this was done with the likes of Sonny James, Eddy Arnold, Ray Coniff, Johnny Cash, Roger Whitaker or Buck Owens in the 8-track player. There were plenty of times the rides would seem like sing-alongs with Mitch Miller.
Regardless of where we went, our parents never let up while we were standing in line or while we were eating. There were plenty of times I thought those at the tables around us were going to ask to be moved, or worse yet, ask to have us thrown out.
But, most of the time, the waiters and waitresses would play along when Mike's dad would pretend to have had too much to drink by making his talk slurred, tying his napkin around his head like a babushka, putting his wife's coat on upside down or telling his wife we'd better leave so he could get her home before her husband suspected something.
They never got out of hand, but they did get as close to the edge as they could.
We did have favorite spots to go in New Jersey. Bahr's and Doris and Ed's in Highlands, the Farm House in Little Silver and Larison's Turkey Farm near Chester were among them. The Glockenspiel, near Kutztown, Pa., was also on the list.
So was an ice cream parlor in Union, N.J., called Jahn's, which served something called the Kitchen Sink, we would frequent.
At the time and since, I never really thought must about going out to dinner with the Galvins. I should have but I probably wouldn't have if my dad hadn't gone to the beach.
And don't get me started on how we'd leave home at the crack of dawn to drive hours to get to somewhere in the mountains of Pennsylvania to look at property - knowing full well we weren't going to be landowners in the Keystone State. We were going for the promise of a new set of dishes or toaster oven, or dinner coupons.
As strange as it sounds, those were really good times.
Sitarz can be reached at 943-2529 or via email at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.