"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
quaint Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English cointe, from Old French, from Latin cognitus, past participle of cognoscere to know -- more at COGNITION
1 a : marked by skillful design b : marked by beauty or elegance
2 a : unusual or different in character or appearance : ODD b : pleasingly or strikingly old-fashioned or unfamiliar
3 : Tryon, NC
The first thing you notice, without a doubt, is the gigantic rocking horse. It's 22 hands high, sits right in downtown Tryon, NC, and they have named him (and four previous incarnations) "Morris."
Morris the rocking horse.
The town itself is a village right out of the family movies of the 1950's. The town's official website features a section titled "About Tryon" which tells the story...uh, no, it doesn't tell any story. It features town ordinances.
And a mighty fine set of ordinances they are, too. First and foremost is featured Town Ordinance 72.14, which states that the parking spaces marked "Police Vehicles Only" in front of the police station are for police vehicles only. Whoa, good thing I spotted that!
Later, Town Ordinance 74, Section II, Schedule C states that under the authority of GS 20-141(f) it shall be unlawful to operate a vehicle in excess of 35 miles per hour on all streets posted with 35 miles per hour signs.
I'm not kidding about this. This stuff's there, have a look. What can I say, things run slow around Tryon.
But not always.
Town Ordinance 91.04(C) states, and I quote here, "It shall be unlawful for any dog owner to permit a female dog to run at large during the erotic stage of copulation." I am assuming that this refers to the dog's state of arousal and not the owner's. In any event, I am not sure that would have been my sales pitch to the world on my "About Tryon" webpage.
Because, you know, Tryon does sport some remarkable events and you will find some incredible people there.
The last time I was in Tryon was over 20 years ago, so I know that the man I am going to tell you about couldn't possibly still be alive. He was old at the time, but his mind was miles sharper than mine will ever be.
I wanted to tell you which restaurant this happened at, but I can't remember the name even when I look at a list of the restaurants in the area. All four of them. We were in town for a horse show, which they still have every year. My younger sister was a hunter jumper rider and had been there before, and it was my first time. Oh, I was an observer only, she was the professional. Darn good at it too.
Anyway, we ended up with a fairly large party at dinner, maybe 12 of us or so. They brought us a menu, and like a lot of nice southern restaurants, the price was pretty much set, and you had a choice of entree, salads, vegetables and sides, and desserts. They also served drinks.
So everyone is staring at their menus when the waiter walks up. He is an old black man, he looks about 65 or 70, and a hard 65 or 70 at that. He asks what everyone wants from the bar.
Maybe nine of us order drinks, all different. He writes down nothing at all, he doesn't even have a pad with him. Off he goes to get the drinks.
Soon he returns, and without a single question gives everyone precisely the drink he or she ordered.
"Are you ready to order?"
"Sure. I'll have the roast beef, house salad with thousand island dressing, mashed potatos with beef gravy, glazed carrots, and fresh corn."
"Very good ma'am. And you ma'am?"
"I'll have the prime rib..."
"How would you like your prime rib, ma'am?"
"Would you like horseradish with that?"
"Certainly. Then I would like the home fries, green beans, and steamed cabbage..."
And on around the table he went, first the ladies then the men, and not taking a single note, every order different and unique.
"Very good, will there be anything else?"
"Yes," one of the ladies at the table said. "How are you going to get all of this right if you haven't written anything down?"
"I will remember it, ma'am."
"But what if you don't? This is a lot to remember!"
"Oh that's not a problem for me, ma'am. You came to this horse show last year, and you ate here on that Saturday evening. You sat at this same table, except you were in that seat over there. You ordered the fish of the day, which was sole florentine, and had a baked potato with butter, no sour cream, green beans, and steamed summer squash. You finished your meal with a slice of our apple pie and decaf coffee. Tonight you are drinking bourbon, but that night you had scotch and soda, and you specifically asked for Johnny Walker Red."
"Why...that's exactly right." She stared, dumbfounded.
Knowing that he now had an audience, he proceeded to go around the table doing the same for every single person there that had ever been in the restaurant before, sometimes remembering two and three meals. He got every single one right.
Eventually, we were laughing and clapping for him. He just beamed.
After he left to turn in our orders, the owner came by. We told him how impressed we were by our incredible waiter.
"Yes, he's fantastic. He's been with us for over 20 years now. You do know why he never writes orders down but remembers them instead, don't you?"
"He can't read or write. It is the only way he can do it."
We all left him a tip only exceeded by his photographic memory, and he deserved every penny of it and more.
Small towns. They have the most amazing stuff.
[Memory is] a man's real possession...In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.
--Alexander Smith, Scottish essayist & poet (1830 - 1867)