I was getting a little tired of doing my 100 Cups of Coffee project close to home. Drove, actually my husband Rich drove, to Moriarity and Lisa’s Truck Center Cafe, for a cup of coffee. Through the Galisteo basin, partial moon, snow on mountains, big space. I wanted to get out, feel that east-west axis of I-40. Sunday morning.
Lisa’s has a small restaurant, nine tables, in the same room as the big display cooler for drinks. Sign on the door: “Right To Refuse Service to Anyone.” Flashback to my hippie youth, and Rich’s bearded commune days. Now we look like a couple of almost elderly New Mexican Anglos, no more no less. Rich says the only time he was actually ever refused service was in Ashland, Oregon in 1975. They said: we don’t serve men with long hair. “In a college town with a Shakespeare festival!’ Rich says.
I have a friend from the Middle East who recently told me he has been refused service more than once in rural New Mexico. Never in London, never in New York, not in Santa Fe but refused also in Colorado. I was appalled; I felt physically sick hearing this. I was shocked, although I shouldn’t have been.
Red and silver vinyl booths and chairs, formica table tops with wiggly doodled design. Another sign on the door proclaims: WE ARE POLITICALLY INCORRECT. WE SAY GOD BLESS AMERICA. IF THIS OFFENDS YOU PLEASE LEAVE. The women’s bathroom is labelled “Girls.”
We grab a table. Rich orders a catfish basket which he says will come with “many fried things.” I order chicken fried steak, white gravy, rye toast, and what proves to be a good, not bitter, cup of coffee.
On the wall is a rainbow colored Route 66 sign, with an innocuously modern Rauschenberg look. License plate assemblage on another wall. Hillary on T.V. which then gets turned off, but not for any apparent reason. Guys in caps. Women in caps. Who here would know I went to Harvard, grew up in a big white house, and am a Jew? It’s the waitress’s day off, but she is in anyway, subbing for a sick colleague.
Rich mentions imposter syndrome. He muses: “the farther you go from home the more you become identified with your group and the less with yourself as an individual.” Like Marco Polo standing for all of Europe as he travels east. Or an African-American student being the first to integrate a school and suddenly being presumed to represent all black people.
I’ve driven an hour from home and entered a different world.
Rich and I eat a slice of pecan pie with vanilla ice cream. I am flush with nostalgic recollection of all the pie we’ve shared. Another sign on the wall:
Red is hot
Green is not
Many will find this blasphemous, but here at last is something I can agree with. I like my green chile milder than I like my red. I don’t disagree with the notice GOD BLESS OUR TROOPS but it is on that POLITICALLY INCORRECT list. (I won’t even bother to ask how that could be considered incorrect.)
We take our leftovers, and I leave a big tip.