Our boss, once a year, bequeaths us three days
at a conference, hours north from an already northern place.
It’s a luxury resort, off-season rates, and the run of the place.
Folks from around the state convene, joined by a common profession.
We speak the same language, we laugh at the same jokes.
Vendors come and sponsor our fun; dances, drinks, and raffle prizes.
A banquet is provided by our association and awards are presented.
Presenters fill our heads with helpful data all day.
The vendor booths try to sell to us during the breaks.
The evenings are ours!
We pull ourselves and other fun-seekers together with a plan.
One of the presenters recommended a great Cajun food restaurant
in an even-further north berg. We set the gps and away we go.
Up and down hills, around densely wooded curves,
passing lakes and rivers but not many houses.
We pull up to a large red building and walk in. Someone says,
“go to the other door.” Why not just walk through?
We walk around the building and into the other entrance.
The place is half-full, and there are plenty of workers bouncing around.
We stand there a long time, with our party of 9, before we get a “hello”.
A steady stream of dinner guests are piling up behind us.
A stooped wrinkled woman behind us says, “why didn’t you make a reservation?”
We are taken to a table a few steps from the door, which was already set up.
One of our party went to the bathroom as we were about to sit down.
The waitress says, “Is all of your party here?”
We say, “Except for one.”
She says, “Well I can’t seat you until all parties have arrived.”
We say, in unison, “She’s here!” and are allowed to sit.
The décor is quaint. Three walls are lined with innumerable whiskey decanters.
Another wall and a half of hot sauce varieties.
A crocodile in the swamp, upside down, is over our heads.
A giant clam with a mermaid holding a pearl is to the right.
Giant mosquitoes buzz over the bar.
The service is good. The menu is expansive. The prices are appropriate.
The moment of truth arrives.
Do I let the initial barriers and off-putters taint what is yet to be with this experience?
I reserve judgement until the first taste of my crawdad enchilada.