Caught in the act

It’s Saturday, errands to be run. There’s a nearby suburb with all the stores clumped together, so we go there fairly often and take care of stuff. Today it’s the home center for hot tub chemicals and a Sodastream refill, a store that sorta combines Michael’s and KMart to buy a curtain rod, and a cruise through a thrift shop or two.

But the dining options in the neighborhood aren’t great. There’s some fast food, a couple of scary Asian buffet places, a sad sports bar. And Denny’s.

Although Denny’s has several branches around town, we’ve never ventured in. But today was the day. Just a bit embarrassed, as if either we or NZ are somehow too good for Denny’s.

We got brewed coffee with refills, a real rarity in a place where ‘barista’ is a profession respectable enough to get you a work visa. There are many slam breakfasts and skillet breakfast. But also lamb shank and a couple of curry dishes you wouldn’t see in Missouri. And a full bar available, although it was a bit early for us. Without overtly throwing shade on my fellow diners, I’ll say that as a group they were doing their part to keep New Zealand’s population growing, and many of them seemed zealous in their support of New Zealand’s agricultural economy: eat local, and then maybe eat some more.

There was incongruous soft cocktail piano tinkling along in the background, and swans in the lagoon outside. Our waitress, a Chinese lady of a certain age, seemed quite abrupt at first, but warmed up and provided nice attentive service. If we see her again I bet she’ll call me ‘hon’.

All in all, it was reassuringly the same as we expected, and just foreign enough not to trigger some kind of nostalgic sadness. My skillet and Lee’s burger were fine… not quite the taste of home, but good enough to last us a while. Will we be back? 🤔

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