There’s a steakhouse chain that recently came to Tucson called Texas Roadhouse. It’s casual, and tries to capture the roadhouse mystique in a somewhat cleaner, middle-class fashion that I appreciate, such as all of the employees possessing all of their orthodontically enhanced teeth. When you walk in, there is no sawdust on the floor, but there are peanut shells on it, and the sign at the door says it’s the rule: that’s where they belong. On every table is a tin bucket full of unshelled peanuts for you to nosh on while you wait for your slab o’ beef to come out of the kitchen.
Having passed the restaurant a number of times, and in need of a good steak cooked by someone else, Scott and I decided to finally stop in one evening. They immediately impressed me by seating us with a basket of hot rolls and honey-cinnamon butter. Anyone who gives me bread and butter immediately is all right in my book.
Of course, it wasn’t long before I discovered the vat o’ peanuts, there, within reach, to shell and eat at my whim! And so I dipped in, cracked open a handful of peanuts, and proceeded to drop the shells on the floor.
From the look on Scott’s face, you would’ve thought I’d dropped trou and proceeded to take a dump in the middle of the restaurant floor.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING???”
“Throwing peanut shells on the floor. You’re s’posed ta.”
“On the floor???”
“It was on the sign. Look all around here,” I said, gesturing expansively, “peanut shells on the floor.”
He just shook his head. It probably should be noted here that Scott is, and ever has been, Greg to my Dharma. He’s a big believer in rules and laws and promptness and that sort of thing. I’m a big believer in operating under my own internal laws, and if some of those coincide with the official ones, hey, groovy, but if not, oh well.
But in the peanut shell situation, he was faced with a dilemma. Because throwing peanut shells on a restaurant floor without a care offended every fiber of his law-abiding being, and yet, it was in fact the rule, which of course I pointed out to him.
“You LIKE rules. And it’s the rule. You want me to follow the rules, doncha?”
He was stuck. He didn’t like it. But he knew he was beat. Or rather, he knew I was wrong, and he would just have to live in his nice little bachelor cottage built on the moral high ground. I just grinned and kept throwing peanut shells on the floor.
Fast-forward about a month, when my folks are in town visiting over Memorial Day weekend, and with them we decided to make our first return trip to the Texas Roadhouse after a hard afternoon of shopping. We were seated right away, because we were earlier than even the early birds, and after putting in drink orders, my dad commenced to eating peanuts, because, really, no one can resist putting their hand in a bucket of peanuts free for the taking. And as he ate them, my easy-going father casually dropped the shells on the floor.
“PETER!” hissed my mom, shocked. And I immediately started laughing, and said to Scott, “See? You’re not alone.” And then I explained that it was the rule, and that Scott was just as unimpressed with my doing it as she was with my dad. And my dad just grinned and kept throwing peanut shells on the floor.