American Evenings

by Jay Nordlinger

Toward the end of today’s Impromptus, I mention the judge in Florida who made a very unusual ruling: He ordered a man to buy his wife a birthday card and flowers — and then take her to dinner at Red Lobster, followed by bowling. My comment: “Hard to think of a more American evening . . .”

Thought you’d like the below letter:

Jay:

I used to work grading & buying seafood on a commercial pier in the state of Maine (the only state without a Red Lobster restaurant, I believe). From our earliest days, Maine children were taught that you get no decent seafood at a Red Lobster.

Fast-forward to a December evening in 1985. Spurred by tax considerations, my wife & I had gotten married in front of a judge in Southampton County, Va., on short notice, and taken off to the Blue Ridge and West (by God!) Virginia for our honeymoon. We planned a dinner in Richmond, and as I got off the highway my wife (from Newark, N.Y.) saw a Red Lobster and told me she had always wanted to eat at one. What could I say? Nothing, of course, so with trepidation I turned in.

It was a wonderful meal. Great service. Food good enough for the gods. Better than I used to get off the wharf.

Our reader goes on to say, subsequent visits, not so much. In any case, he says, “Nothing indeed is more American than the chain restaurant — an object of derision in sophisticated circles, but a godsend to folks like me who are frequently on the road.”