Thursday, August 1, 2013
When I was a kid, I used to go to church every Sunday. I was bad at it. I got bored so easily and I never understood anything Father Foster was talking about. I would also do stupid things like steal hymn books (so I had more music to practice on my clarinet!) and laugh during moments of silence. I also dreaded having to shake strangers' hands and give them peace. I still do. If you grew up Catholic, you'll probably understand all that better. The best part about going to church was going out to lunch or breakfast afterwards. Most times we'd end up at Friendly's, where my life-long disdain for breakfast was born. I'm just never in the mood for it. If you give me a pancake, I'll enjoy it. It's delicious, don't get me wrong. But I never crave it or ask for it or want it all that much. But Friendly's had one thing that set them apart from other breakfast places and it was their homefries. Crispy, tiny potatoes. They weren't french fries and they weren't regular homefries... they were tiny squares of fried potato goodness. Maybe they still are. I'm never up in time for breakfast and if I am, I'm not going to Friendly's. I'm making a grilled cheese.
In high school, I was weird. Remember when I said I was afraid of shaking strangers' hands and telling them, "Peace be with you?" Well, in high school, I was afraid of looking other people in the eye. That was too close and intimate for a socially anxious me. So when it came time for going out on the weekends and "partying," I'd typically be at home hosting a sleepover. And when it came to going to semi-formals or proms, I'd typically be at Friendly's with my friends. They had no problem going to proms, but they also liked hanging out with me... and greasy super melts and Jim Dandy's. Friendly's became our spot. We felt comfortable there with its weird mix of underage and overage waitresses (and no in between.)
In college, I went on my first date with a boy and he wanted to go to Friendly's. I had a car so I picked him up and I drove us to the one I wanted to go to. As I pulled up, I noticed that my best friend's car was parked in the parking lot as well. It was such a part of both of our lives that we both brought dates to our Friendly's. We sat next to them and the waitress took the barrier between the booths away. It was weird going from two awkward girls who discussed Harry Potter in those booths to two awkward girls discussing Harry Potter in those booths with boys.
Nowadays, Friendly's are less frequent spots along highways and small towns. Which is a good thing, considering Friendly's doesn't feel nearly as good for the body as it did when we were younger. But I still get nostalgic for the days when I worshiped those homefries far more than the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (amen) and escaped my social anxiety to sit in a comfortable booth with my nearest and dearest. I'll remember the trips to the mall that followed and the inside jokes that were formed inside.
That's why the other day, while shopping at the Wrentham Outlets, it was quickly decided that we'd be having lunch at Friendly's... just because why not? We may not have all grown up together, but each of us felt nostalgic for it. And it was great. And we got our happy ending. Because at Friendly's, you always do.
(Until, like, a few hours later when you feel greasy and disgusting and sick and can't eat anything but lettuce and greens for several days.)