The long. After a long nap, I gathered my stuff and headed to downtown Atlanta to pick up my colleague. (I'll call him Mr. Beans, since he's a Java programmer.) I loved how motivated he was about going to a Southern style restaurant (a "tea house," named so as to protect the gentility of the proprietor, a nice widow lady), since most of the poeple I know at work who like food are food snobs and there was not a bit of this meal that was going to be about snobbishness.
So we made it Mary Mac's tea room, which is amusingly close to my hotel, and an utterly charming gentleman came to ask for our drinks. "Sweet tea? Lemonade?" It was cream soda for me (served in a frozen glass, oh MY), but Mr. Beans rubbed it in and got a mint julep after checking with the hostess (who was cruising the room, checking in on the patrons) to make sure it was actually an appropriate drink for a man to order.
Said hostess ... a lady in her late fifties or early sixties with what I would call a "bouffant" hairdo ... was very encouraged by my chipper discussion of the meal options. "Oh, you do sound excited! Where y'all from?" I asked her about the pot likker, and she said, "Now, y'all won't want anything to drink once you have that, it'll satisfy your every desire." And then ... my God ... she began to rub my back! I was so shocked I kind of froze in place. That just doesn't happen in Seattle. And then she went and rubbed Mr. Beans' back! I couldn't believe it! She slowly made her way around the room, greeting and visiting with every client, and rubbing a hand in a circular motion on each of their backs.
Now, that's when you know you're in the South. Or that you're eating under the care of the most freakish proprietess in all of America.
But anyway ... Mr. Beans and I were utterly of a kind on the food, so he told me to just pick for both of us. (You actually write your order down on a ticket and the server takes it away, no questions asked.) While we waited, a bread basket arrived, with tiny little corn cakes, cinnamon rolls, and regular white dinner rolls - and our pot likker, a tiny bowl of light green liquid with just a few turnip greens in it and another corn cake to dip into it. Mmm.
So ... the food. Oh, the food. Barbequed quail (two, with a free story about Mr. Beans' former pet duck). Chicken and dumplings (the strip kind, with a free story about Tad's Chicken and Dumplings in Troutdale from me). Cheesy grits. Hopping John (with a free story about Toad in the Hole as a New Year's Day meal). Collard greens and crackling cornbread. Okra and tomatoes (because I'd never heard of, or thought of, such a mixture). And then, once we were utterly full, peach cobbler and banana pudding.
After a meal like this, what could a night have left in it but utter relaxation? I decided a trip to the store to buy some bubblebath was in order, and returned with The Healing Garden "Sleep Well" powerdered milk bath (chamomile and vanilla) and White Rain (sue me, it was a buck) Lavender Vanilla foaming cream bath (because I wanted bubbles). (I also bought a bunch of secret Southern food things, but it ruins the narrative to talk about them, so no detail.) I then poured a deep, hot tub of water, and sat and soaked and soaked and talked to shadowdaddy because, you know, I miss him. I've pretty successfully worked the aches out of my legs, and though my feet are still sore, they don't feel like I'm walking across hot pavement when I stand on the carpet of the hotel room anymore.
Despite all this, after my earlier nap, I stood staring out the window and said, "I'm ready to go home." And I am. Three interviews tomorrow and a trip to the Silver Skillet, and my time in Atlanta is done - though I do love having total strangers look at me in the grocery store and say, "I love that cherry color in your hair!" with a rich Southern accent. Such kind girls really do a cowgirl good.