Maureen and I visited Luby’s Cafeteria last week for lunch. When we walked in, the smells of food brought back memories from my childhood. Back in the 1950s in Fort Worth, there was Wyatt’s and Luby’s. It was always a hard choice for the family. Luby’s had the best deserts, while Wyatt’s always served larger portions. My Dad usually chose Wyatt’s. More bang for the buck. It was the Eisenhower years and things were tight. That’s back when he was still a Democrat. I was just a hungry kid.
We took our place in line, trays aligned on the metal rail. I scanned the extra large menu board for my favorite dish, but couldn’t find it. I panicked. The platter I came for, and have always ordered for decades is “The Luann Platter,” and they damn well better have it. My blood sugar was low and I could feel a rant coming on. Maureen rubbed a drop of “Peace of Mind” lotion under my nose to calm me. Then, in the lower corner of the board, I spotted it. ” The Luann Platter, half portions with a roll – $8.99.” What the hell! It used to be $4.99 with a roll, a drink, and pie? Retired folk cant afford those prices.
I approached the smiling lady server and using my best old man controlled voice said, ” I’m not paying $8.99 for a half portion that was $4.99 with a piece of pie the last time I ate at Luby’s” and slammed my fist on my tray for effect.
Still smiling, she replied, ” Well sir, then you can choose the children’s plate if you are over 65 and or acting like a child, as of which you appear to be. You have a choice of chicken strips, a hot dog or spaghetti with a 2% milk and a fruit cup. That will set you back $4.99 plus tax. And by the way, The Luann Platter has been $8.99 since 2001.”
Oh, she was really messing with me now. Her smile had turned to a slight sneer and her eyes got beady. I leaned over the glass barrier. ” Do you know who Luann Platter is, young lady?” I demanded. ” No sir, was she a famous cook or employee of the month or something?” she said. Good Lord, this girl is clueless.
By this point, two other line servers had flanked the young miss in case I went postal. I faced them and with conviction said,” Luann Platter is the most famous character on the television show, ” King of the Hill.” An animated series that is set in Garland Texas and this dish that you serve is named for her. Don’t you know who Hank, Bobby, and Peggy Hill are?” The three servers had the look of social ignorance on their young faces. It was useless to explain. I collected my platter and we proceeded to the checkout.
We sat in our booth, eating our lunch in silence. The food wasn’t as good as it used to be. The good old days are gone for good. My turnip greens turned out to be Kale; the most evil weed ever cooked. Maureen’s chicken was rubber faux chicken and my corn muffin was doughy and awful. We can scratch this one off of our list.
Leaving the cafeteria, a fortyish blond women in a Luby’s uniform held the door open for us. In a girlish voice she said, ” Ya’ll come back now.” I noticed her name tag read “Luann.”