You have no idea how many ways THAT could go wrong in the place I’m about to talk about . . .
I’m going to take back what I said in the video about this place being “bad”. Yesterday, I got a bad impression from it and it could have just been an off day, but I’ll show you around The Junction Restaurant and I’ll let you make up your mind for yourself.
You’ve heard me say many times what a small town West Jefferson is, and this little dining experience is pretty much going to nail down that impression for you. I ventured into this place yesterday because, well, why not. Boy, am I glad I did because this post pretty much started writing itself from the time I walked up to the door. We’ll start with it’s location. It’s in a mostly abandoned strip mall except for the insurance agent next door and the child care center in what used to be a hardware store. Other than that, this place is severely lacking for neighbors.
Given that, it explains a lot about the operating hours for “The Junction”.
Ok, so it’s a small town, not a lot of traffic through here and these folks (meaning, this lady) plans on eating dinner at home and so should you. That is all well and good in my book and I love a good breakfast/lunch place every once in a while. What sparked my confusion upon entering “The Junction” was this:
At first I thought I had walked in on a funeral wake and nobody had brought the casket yet until I realized that it was a Karaoke stage! Painted in all black with the funky carpet. All it needed was a brass pole in the middle of it and it could have been yanked from a titty bar. Have you ever heard the tagline for the Deja Vu Showgirls strip clubs? “1000’s of beautiful women and 3 ugly ones”. This is the stage the 3 ugly ones got their start on. But now it’s a Karaoke stage, at “The Junction”, which closes at 2 pm.
[On a side note, I wonder if the 3 ugly girls at Deja Vu know who they are and have just come to accept their role, or do all the 1000’s of them walk around all naked and shit, eyeballing each other and thinking, “Oh you KNOW you’re one of the ugly ones, Bitch”!]
For the record, I’ve had some damned fine ham and cheese omelets, served up along with some of the greatest, crispy, brown hash-browns ever. But never, not once, have I had a breakfast so good that it made me want to break out into song. I’ll also add that I’m not a morning person. I’m barely an afternoon person. Cheerful, happy, blow sunshine up my ass morning people make me want to strangle puppies. There is no omelet, and there never will be, that will make me tolerate someone elses no-singin’ ass doing Karaoke in the morning. Ever.
You will be stabbed, and I will tear off a table leg to stab you with.
You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I discovered that they have “unadvertised” Karaoke night on Friday, that starts at 8. There was no closing time mentioned and I got the impression that they close when they “pretty much get tired of listening to that shit”.
I’ll zoom out a bit and give you a gander at the general decor of “The Junction” with a couple of random shots inside this very tiny place.
When I entered the establishment today, I brought the total body count up to 7. Yesterday, I doubled the body count to 2 when I came in. There was a teenage boy behind the counter texting on his cell phone. Upon realizing I had come in, he popped one eye up to see who opened the door and without saying anything to me, he turned around and went to the door of the back kitchen area.
Where he yelled, “GRAMMA!!”
I took this as my cue to “Please be seated anywhere you like”. I took a chair at one of the two-seater tables by the window and a couple of minutes later, a woman no younger than 112, shuffled up to the table. This was not a happy woman. Not even close. She hovered over me for a moment, and then with no “Hello”, “Welcome to The Junction”, nothing, she quite literally shoved out the words, “Whaddya want to drink”?
She could have said, “What the fuck are you lookin’ at?!” and I’d have felt exactly the same. I politely asked for a sweet tea and she shuffled off behind the counter. Keep in mind, “Gramma” is taking care of this while teenage boy continues to lean on the counter, texting.
When she returned with my tea, she put it on the table in front of me. Without saying a word, she shoved her hands in her pockets and stood there, staring at me. I had barely looked at the menu (poorly laminated list), but I had seen enough to know that it was pretty basic. I ordered a grilled ham & cheese because it was the first thing I could think of and I really just wanted her to go away. As she set about making my sandwich on the grill, she turned and looked down the bar at me and yelled, “Yawn’t fries?!” as she held a fistful of frozen fries over the frier basket. Figuring she’d already committed herself to it, I replied with, “Yes, ma’am.”
She finished making my food, brought it to my table, set it in front of me and walked away. All, still, without a word. With my basic needs met, she went back behind the counter where she leaned up against it near the teenage boy and fired up a cigarette. This is a non-smoking establishment, apparently unless you are working behind the counter.
The entire experience was enough for me to actually want to make a return trip today, with this blog post in mind. I was willing to concede that everyone has a bad day, but two in a row was just going to be too funny to pass up. When I returned today, “Gramma” was slightly more personable and actually asked about me taking pictures, at which time I asked if it was alright. Because I was just a visiting city-boy and I really dug the small-town feel of the place. She bought that. Today, I went out on a limb and ordered a country ham and cheese sandwich.
Some of you may be unfamiliar with the concept of “country ham”, particularly if you’re from up north. Everyone should have it once. Because more than once is probably going to kill you, but this is a little treat I can’t seem to resist. Country ham is different from regular ham because it contains more salt than the Atlantic Ocean. Country ham is actually packed in salt, as in, piled up in a corner and salt is shoveled over it until it is buried. It stays there, at varying temperatures, for 3 months, and when you unbury it, it’s done. Compare this with techniques used by ancient Egyptians, country ham is mummified pig by its very definition. It will give you a chronic high blood pressure condition just being in the same room with it.
I’m sorry, but I love the stuff. Today it came with tater tots. Fucking tater tots, man! I’m in! I’m a “regular” now! One more day and I can walk in and just say, “I’ll have the usual, Gramma! Extra tots.”
Gramma was chatty today. She stood by the table as I began to eat and told me the tale about buying this place 32 years ago. She didn’t want to, but she heard the Cubans were looking into buying it and she didn’t want that to happen. Trying to do the mental math in my head, I could only assume that the Cubans had come to their own in West Jefferson, NC right after they all got done filming Scarface down in Miami, which explains the huge amount of Florida traffic we get during tourist season.
When I told her I was here from Raleigh, she said, “Hmm. Ain’t never been all the way down there. When I go to the city, I go to Boone.” I had to consciously hold my mouth closed. I seriously don’t know how old “Gramma” was, but she had to be, well old. My grandmother is 93 and I’d guess this lady wasn’t all that far behind. She had never been further from this place than Boone!
My first thought at this was “Damn, if I’d never been more than 30 miles from here in probably 80 years, I’d be pretty fucking cranky too!” I’ve been here 3 months and those mountains look like a beautiful place . . . to jump off.
So I took a different view of “The Junction” from that point on and kind of see it now as just some folks doing the best they can with what they have. It’s not fancy and it’s not big city, but it’s home and people come in there every day and eat and just hang out. The crowd at the bar was having an intense but friendly discussion about religion. I heard a few “Amen’s” and “Praise Him’s” and there was a lively discussion about two churches merging together and one guy was real excited about the new Bible study group for young men he’d just started. I was truly sitting in the heart of the Bible belt and I’d found where they hung out.
So as I moved through the place after I finished my meal, I made a pit stop in the restroom before I left. A doorway about half the width of a normal door, jammed into the back corner of the restaurant. It had the standard men’s room decor:
The entire place seemed to be something that was put together, one piece at a time over a great number of years. There were dollar bills stuck to the walls with various signatures on them. Various metal signs tacked to the wall advertising things like “57 Chevrolet” and old Coca Cola signs. On the wall behind the cash register, was the sanitation grade.
It was very obvious that very little changes in this place and time has very nearly crawled to a halt in here.
Let me not leave out “Gramma”, because this is the little corner of the world that she runs:
Apparently I also did not leave out teenage boy standing behind the counter picking his ass either. Wow, the shit you capture by accident. That alone is enough to convince me that I don’t want to go back ever again, but at some point I’m going to have to. Because as I passed by the open office door, wide open in clear view of the Bible talking group and pretty much anyone that walked in the door, this is what I saw:
By all means, allow me to zoom that in for you. . .
Boobs on a PLAQUE! Given the state of undress of that boob-plaque, the red bikini top was pretty much unnecessary. So while I may not go back for the food, you can bet I’m gonna stop back in on “Karaoke Night” to find out just what in the hell you gotta do to win a Boobie Plaque!
I’m thinking I’d even be willing to sing at breakfast for a Boobie Plaque.
As I promised in the video, I was just around the corner from my grandmothers house, so when I grabbed my son, Tiger, from school, we stopped by there. If you’ve been following the life of my family up to this point, then you’ll know why this is important. We had to go in my grandmothers house and touch the walls. Because her and my father, HATE that! If you don’t understand that reference, feel free to look back at these posts for the references to it:
. . . and now, enjoy our rebellion:
For the last picture, we’re going to play “what’s wrong/what’s right”.
- There is a teenager in her living room.
- That teenager has long hair.
- That teenager has his shoes on the carpet.
- That teenager appears happy. This must be stopped.
- That candle on the table is crooked as FUCK!
- The teenager is not sitting on the couch, which is VERBOTEN!
- That teenager is not touching the walls. (Anymore)