Full as …
When Darcy, Lizzy, and Jane left Crowns R Us, it was time for lunch. They had just enough time to eat before heading back for an afternoon appointment with the evening gown walking coach. Darcy walked Lizzy and Jane out to his car. When they were all seated, and Darcy had the bought air running, he turned to the two of them.
Darcy: Where would you ladies like to eat?
Lizzy: I brought a sandwich.
Jane: Me, too.
Darcy: I didn’t, so humor me. I don’t want to eat alone.
Lizzy: I’m broke as Uncle J. P.’s front tooth. I had to cut my hours at work for all this pageant stuff. I’m poor as a church mouse.
Jane: Same here. We can just order iced tea and eat our sandwiches with you.
Darcy: That won’t do. I talked you girls into bein’ in the pageant. The least I can do is replace the money you’re losin’ by not workin’ as much. View my help like an expense account. I’ll pay for whatever you need, and right now, you need lunch.
Lizzy: I don’t like spongin’ off my boyfriend.
Jane: And I don’t like spongin’ off my sister’s boyfriend.
Darcy: Y’all aren’t spongin’ off me. You and Jane work for me, and this is part of the incentive package.
Lizzy: We’re broke as the Ten Commandments, so I guess I shouldn’t be too proud to let you buy us lunch. I caught Jane searchin’ for shrapnel this morning.
Jane: I was checkin’ under the couch cushions, lookin’ for loot.
Darcy: I have more money than I know what to do with. From now on, you two are on salary. I’ll get the paperwork to you tonight. You’ll have to quit your jobs and devote full-time to the pageants if you expect to win.
Jane: I can’t quit teachin’. I need my benefits.
Darcy: Just quit your summer job for now. If you win locally and have to get ready for a state pageant, you may have to rethink teachin’, because if you win on a state level, you’ll have to take a year off for nationals. Don’t worry about money or benefits. My company provides a very generous retirement plan and great health insurance. Now where do you want to eat?
Lizzy: You have more money than sense, but I agree we can’t keep workin’ all the time if we’re goin’ to be serious about the pageants. I’m ready to eat. My belly button’s scratchin’ my backbone.
Darcy: What’s good around here?
Lizzy: Not much of what’s good is on my nutritional plan. Just pull over by the side of the road and we can eat some grass.
Darcy: Does that sign really say Bantam Chef?
Jane: Yep. Keep on drivin’. KFC has grilled chicken and green beans. We can have that.
Darcy: Jane, you sound about as excited as a convict in a confessional booth.
Jane: I’m as excited as a kid on the last day of school. Really. I love grilled chicken and green beans – every day of the week for every meal.
Lizzy: I can’t eat another green bean, Janie. Please don’t make me. Last night I dreamed a big ole green bean was chasing me, mutterin’ somethin’ about payin’ me back for eatin’ all of her friends and relations.
Darcy: I’m not takin’ y’all to KFC. Sounds like the colonel has been spendin’ more time with Lizzy than I have, and I’m a jealous man. I’d like to go to a little restaurant that has a great salad bar at lunch. Have you ever eaten at Louisa’s?
Lizzy: Is that a new place?
Darcy: I think it opened a month or so after I moved back here. Bingley’s older sister graduated from culinary school, and she wanted to introduce healthier food to the area. She’s the manager. According to Charlie, it’s a good thing, because she needs a substantial paycheck. Her husband doesn’t have a job.
Lizzy: I smell a smooth talkin’ rat. You own that restaurant, don’t you?
Darcy: There wasn’t a single place in town where I could buy a variety of fresh salads. Louisa is a great chef, but she didn’t have the money to finance a restaurant herself, and I’ve known her since dirt was new. It’s a good investment. There’s not anything like it in a fifty mile radius. With pageant fever takin’ over the county, healthy food will be in demand.
Lizzy: Well, aren’t you slicker than cut okra in the sink? Always tryin’ to hide stuff from me. I guess that’s a, “Yes, it’s my restaurant.” Just say it. Time to own up.
Darcy: It’s my mother’s fault. I wasn’t like this until I was born. So, yes, it’s my restaurant. You’re goin’ to love it.
Lizzy: As long as I don’t have to eat grilled chicken and green beans.
Darcy: I’m goin’ to have a grilled chicken salad, but you could get a lean meat burger on whole wheat – all organic, gluten free, antibiotic free, no GMOs, all natural. Louisa’s menu is varied. BBQ chicken salad, harvest cobb salad, bacon and avocado macaroni salad, California quinoa salad, Asian-style Cobb salad, Greek salad with lemon vinaigrette, quinoa fruit salad, taco salad, kale salad, Asian quinoa salad, shrimp cobb salad, and several others. You can also make your own or order it to your specifications.
Jane: That’s varied? I’m sensing a theme.
Lizzy: What in heaven’s name is quinoa? Somethin’ else to graze on? Just tie my reins to the porch railin’ and strap a feed bag on my face.
Darcy: It was originally grown by the Andes Indians. Now it’s a money-makin’ crop in California. Quinoa can be used in the place of rice. Quinoa cakes, quinoa entrees, and quinoa snacks are healthier. You should try it.
Lizzy: Baby steps, Darcy. Baby steps. I have to walk on salad before I can run on quinoa. Are we almost there? I’m hungrier than a ninth puppy when I’d rather be full as a tick on a hound dog.
Darcy: Well, that’s an image I won’t lose quickly. Here we are. Try to keep an open mind.
Lizzy: My mind’s so open, my brains are fallin’ out.
Jane: Looks nice on the outside. Charlie told me Louisa runs a restaurant. I’ll be glad to see her again. I haven’t seen her since the cookout at the Bingley’s house, and that must have been before you opened this place. She and her husband live close to Charlie’s parents, and she brought salads to the cookout to go with the burgers. Louisa’s a great cook, and she’s persnickety about pretty much everything, so the food should be good.
Darcy: That’s the spirit. It’s usually crowded, so I texted Louisa and told her to hold my favorite table. Walk right in, ladies.
Lizzy: Nice view of a used car lot. Lends a certain ambience. At night, you can turn on the car headlights.
Darcy: I plan to do somethin’ about that soon. If this place keeps havin’ so many customers, we’ll need to expand, and the guy who owns that car lot is willin’ to move for the right price. We need to start stayin’ open for all three meals, too.
Lizzy: It’s almost like you know what you’re doin’.
Jane: This restaurant is busier than a one-armed paperhanger. You’re close to revitalizin’ downtown.
Lizzy: Close only counts with horse shoes and hand grenades. This is better than close. My boyfriend is gettin’ ’er done. Is that Harriet comin’ yonder, waitin’ on tables? What’s she doin’ back in Sugarfield? I thought she lived in Atlanta.
Darcy: She did, but I found out that her husband lost his job when the mill shut down. I contacted her and offered them both jobs. Robert Martin is smart. He works in my home office now, and Louisa hired Harriet to waitress here. People love her, and she’s glad to be back home. Her mama watches her kids while she works. I think she has the potential to be the assistant manager after she learns the business.
Lizzy: You’re the sweetest man I know. I owe you one for helping my friend.
Darcy: One what?
Lizzy: Kiss, backrub, foot rub – I’ll make you a list to choose from. I’m so crazy about you, I’ll let you order for me. No quinoa.
Darcy: I’ll order a small bowl of quinoa so you and Jane can try it if you want to. I promise you’ll love the food here. You’ll be full as a shark at a shipwreck.
Lizzy: Graphic but good. I want to be full to bustin’.
Darcy: Get to work on that list pronto.
Lizzy: I’ll write it right now on a napkin. You can think about it while you’re with us at Crowns R Us this afternoon. We’ll be learnin’ evening gown walkin’ for your entertainment. Surely it must be similar to swimsuit walkin’.
Darcy: While you’re talkin’, you’re not writin’ the list.
Lizzy: Keep your shirt on. I’m multi-talented and ambidextrous. I can talk and write at the same time I’m singin’ a song and cookin’ dinner.
Jane: You lie like a dog, Sis. You have an attention span like one, too. Squirrel!
Lizzy: Let me be. I’m fixin’ to finish writin’ my list.
Darcy: Don’t rush on my account. I want at least ten choices, so make it good – not fast.
Lizzy: Here comes Harriet, and here’s your list.
Darcy: I’ll take a combination of #2, #4, and #5.
Lizzy: From my list?
Darcy: From the menu. Harriet can bring extra plates so you girls can try some of each entrée.
Lizzy: Doggone. I thought you liked my list.
Darcy: Oh, I’m ordering everything on that menu, sugar. Eat up. You’re goin’ to need your strength.
Lizzy: Be good. My sister’s listenin’.
Jane: And takin’ notes. Let me see that list, mister.
Lizzy: You goin’ to tell Daddy on me?
Jane: Nope, I’m goin’ to copy it down for ideas. I’ll bet Charlie would like a list, too.
Darcy: Harriet’s almost here for our order. I’ll put the list in my wallet where it’ll be safe. There are small children around us.
Lizzy: That list is PG. PG-13 at the worst. Don’t make Janie think it’s bad.
Darcy: Hi, Harriet. What’s good today?
Harriet: A foot rub sounds good about now, but it isn’t on the menu.
Darcy: I think that’s on the list.
Harriet: What list?
Darcy, Lizzy, and Jane: Never mind.