Oddly enough, some of my best childhood memories involve drunks urinating in public.
I guess that’s one of the perks of growing up in a small town.
When I was about 13 or 14, we went to dinner at a small restaurant in downtown Dayton, Nevada. The owners had renovated an historical building to create a modern-day bistro.
My family and I were seated next to a window that overlooked the downtown area.
“We’re new here,” the owner said, who was also serving as our waiter. “We’ve been so busy with the renovations, we haven’t had time yet to explore the community.”
“You’re pretty much looking at it,” I said, motioning out the window. (Clearly, this was before the housing boom. Now Dayton’s a much larger community — though as of this writing, it still has only one traffic light, which is awesome.)
I decided to order the hamburger. The menu said it came with a serving of potato crisps.
“What’s a potato crisp?” I asked.
“It’s a potato wedge that’s deep-fried,” the owner said.
“So it’s a french fry,” I said.
“Well.” The owner shrugged.
“A deep-fried potato wedge is a french fry,” I said. “So basically, the burger comes with fries. Right?”
“Yes.” The owner sighed. “Yes, it’s a french fry.”
“Just a word of advice: We’re not too fancy around these here parts,” I said. “We don’t doll up our french fries and try to pretend they’re something they’re not.”
(As I write this, I realize what a smart ass I was at 13. I’m glad I grew out of that phase.)
As we ate dinner, the owner approached our table to see how we were doing.
“How are the potato crisps?” he asked, winking.
“Top-notch,” I said. “You’ve got a really nice restaurant here.”
“Well, we love the area,” the owner said. “Everyone we’ve run into has been fantastic.”
At that moment, a drunk with a massive beer belly stumbled out of the bar across the street. As we watched him through the window, he staggered toward the restaurant.
“Oh, dear,” the owner said, wringing his hands on a dishtowel.
The drunk paused between two cars in the parking lot, with an arm draped across each car. In full view of the window, he wrenched open his zipper and starting taking a massive leak on the asphalt.
“Well, that’s appetizing,” my grandmother said, setting down her fork.
“Oh, dear.” The owner held his hand to his mouth.
The drunk stood there urinating for a full three minutes. I was in awe. I’d never been able to go that much at once, even after four Squirts and a Hawaiian Punch.
When he was finally done, the drunk hitched up his zipper, puked on the hood of one of the cars, then stumbled back across the street and into the bar.
“Oh, dear.” The owner bit his lower lip. “Does that happen here often?”
“I think that’s an everyday thing,” I said.
Two months later, the restaurant was inexplicably closed. Which was a shame, because I’d really enjoyed their potato crisps.