I have a favorite moon phase.
Why do you look at me like that’s an odd thing to say?
Anyway, if you’d like to know what it is, you can view it later tonight. Of course this can only happen provided you are reading this specific post the day that it is posted, which is Tuesday, February 28, 2017. For all other days, please disregard the first sentence of this paragraph.
My favorite phase of the moon is technically known as “waxing crescent”. I have heard some call it the “Cheshire Cat Moon” because the crescent looks like a smile.
I, however, refer to as the “Gobbler Moon”.
This is that story.
On the fifteenth day of October in the year 1988, my girlfriend and I drove to Madison, Wisconsin to spend the weekend with a friend of hers who was attending the University of Wisconsin.
We made the trek from Evanston, Illinois, where we were both attending Northwestern University, in my car – a 1986 blue Chevy Sprint – that I constantly described as “three cylinders of pure power”.
Our afternoon motorized outing was going quite well. Our plan was to take Interstate 94 north into Milwaukee, turn left, and continue to take that ribbon of highway straight into Madison.
Milwaukee was well in our rear view mirror and we were two and half hours and 120 miles into the trip with about 35 miles left to travel when Fate decided she had other plans for us.
A few miles before we hit the town of Johnson Creek and State Route 26, the accelerator pedal suddenly stopped working. As if a switch had been flipped, pressing down on the gas now only produced the sound of a rapidly revving engine. The go-pedal was no longer making the car go forward. I was now in the left-hand lane of an American interstate highway originally going 70mph but was now decelerating with no way to go faster. I could only steer and brake. I did manage to maneuver the Sprint to the right shoulder and my traveling companion and I pondered what our next move was.
As this was the late 1980s, calling for assistance was out of the question as cellular phones were not ubiquitous enough so that college students like ourselves had them. So, as the sun disappeared below the western horizon, my girlfriend and I hoofed it the few miles into Johnson Creek where we found a gas station.
Thankfully, that station had a tow truck and a mechanic’s bay. As the station dispatched their vehicle to bring back my vehicle, I asked the attendant if there was any place nearby to eat as it was dinner time. The attendant pointed yonder to a restaurant just down the road.
Enjoying a walk in the brisk Midwestern autumnal air, we arrived at a building that appeared as if it had been designed in to the 1960s.
The sign outside the building identified this place as “The Gobbler” and as we entered this restaurant we were indeed transported back in time by two decades.
Before we even made our way to the hostess stand, we found ourselves in a small foyer. To either side of us were smaller alcoves that contained round tables with built-in seating. Nothing odd about this particular place to wait for your name to be called during the busier times except for the fact that the seating for these tables was completely covered in pink shag.
To make it to the hostess stand, we has to pass through a doorway festooned with beads that made it look like we were entering Greg Brady’s attic bedroom from the television program The Brady Bunch. We also noticed, courtesy of the sign next to the vacant hostess stand, that if we were to show up to this place tomorrow, we could experience the dulcet sounds of “Magic Fingers” Matt as he “…tickled the 88 Keys”.
But there was still one surprise left to us.
As we waited for the hostess to come back to her stand and assist us, we observed that in the center of the restaurant, there was a large circular bar. It was an impressive architectural sight, but I didn’t think too much about.
We left after a few minutes of not being waited on and made our way back to the gas station. The Sprint had now been brought in and we were informed that there no mechanics on duty right now, but that the car would be looked at the next day. We thanked the cashier and bought two microwavable burritos as our evening repast. As my girlfriend phoned her friend to inform where we were and ask if she could pick us up, I spoke to the cashier and asked him if the food at The Gobbler was any good.
He told me it was decent food and he then asked me if I noticed the circular bar.
When I said I did, he then asked, “Did you see it rotate?”
I looked puzzled and he went on to inform me that the bar was situated on a rotating platform and it made a complete revolution in a little over an hour. This was done, he said, so that people could sit at the bar and scope out the members of the opposite sex without having to leave their seats.
Outside, enjoying our processed, slightly-warm Mexican-ish meal, I explained the bar’s raison d’etre to my fellow traveler. She commented that we would have missed out on learning about this unique artifact of Americana if my car did not break down.
I pondered on this and concluded she was right. It was a bit of epiphany for my almost twenty-year old soul to realize that what may look like a bad situation can lead to an unexpected discovery. It’s all in how you look at it.
I looked up into the October twilight and saw the waxing crescent of the Moon smiling down on me.
It was there that I decided that this was my favorite phase of the moon.
That’s my story.
There was one other unique artifact that came out of this outing.
The next day, we were informed that the clutch on my Sprint was seriously busted and that it would take a few weeks to obtain a new part and install it. As my girlfriend and I had to be back in Illinois by Monday for classes and since her friend could not drive us back to Evanston, our Plan B was “Plan Bus”.
It was the first, last (to date), and only (again, to date) time I have even taken a Greyhound bus. Below (and please don’t ask why I still have it because I simply truly do not know why I still possess this slip of paper) is the receipt from that transportation purchase.
P.S. If you want to know what happened to the Sprint during its stay in America’s Dairyland…well, that’s a story for another day.