Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Usual

I love where I live. I love the complex, the layout of my loft, and the pool where I spend my summer vacation. I even love my parking spot. The one thing I wish I had was an outdoor grill. I'm allowed to have one, but because I have a second floor unit, it would be inconvenient, so I do without. Since I'm pretty good in the kitchen, for the most part it's easy to make due. But I don't like to do without steak. Despite my Calphalon grill pan and culinary prowess, I just can't make a steak work on my electric range.

I have never been squeamish about eating out by myself. Traveling on business before I was a teacher acclimated me to dining alone and being single for a good part of my adult life kept me in practice, so finding a good steak was as easy as choosing a restaurant. My once occasional red meat cravings led me to Outback, where I knew I could get a reasonable priced and consistently good steak. What came as a bonus was good service and good company. As a result I am a regular. Now when I go out for a steak, I get dinner and conversation, and a few good laughs--especially if Erika and Juli are working.

They are my favorite servers. They know I like the Little Boomey cab, and a little time between my salad and my steak. They know I like the green beans with my steak (sometimes 6 ounce, sometimes 9) and the most I will change up my order is to skip the salad and get garlic mashed potatoes with my sirloin (cooked medium) instead. Just as I can count on Juli asking, “the uzh?” (or however one would phonetically spell the first syllable of usual as it’s pronounced) I know that Erika will come over after my meal with a devilish grin to see if I’ll be tempted into a dessert martini that she is happy to shake up.

What I like more than their knowing what I like to eat and drink and at what pace is that they are friendly and fun and easy to talk to. They chat with me if they have time in between customers and we all know details of each other’s lives. They are good people. I like them. And they make me like being a regular.

Even if I got a grill, or for some unforeseen and godforsaken reason I gave up red meat, I’d still go Outback for what’s not offered on their menu, but is as comforting as a good meal. Friendship.

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