Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tales from the road: Strongsville, OH

I needed a halfway point between New York City and Chicago, and Strongsville, OH fit the bill. About twenty minutes outside of Cleveland right off of I-80, this was the perfectly safe little suburb that I was looking for. I checked into my Holiday Inn Select around 7:30 and set off to the nearby mall to find dinner.

Halfway there, I mentally scolded myself for leaving all of my magazines in the hotel. I don't mind eating by myself, but usually try to have something to flip through to curb boredom. I scanned the backseat and something bright pink caught my eye. Perfect! It was the copy of The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road that someone had given to me as a going away present the week before.

Not two minutes after I had settled into my bar stool at the Macaroni Grill, the bartender, Mike, had spotted my book.

"Takin' a road trip?"

"Kinda... well, yeah. I'm driving cross country right now because I'm moving to California." I then gave the ten second version of the complicated story.


"By the way, where am I, exactly?"

Mike laughed and explained that I was sorta in between Cleveland and Akron.

I then proceeded to tell that ten second version to almost every employee of the restaurant. Lesson learned - when sitting at the bar alone in a suburb of Cleveland reading a bright pink book with a precarious title, people love to talk to you. Which was fine. Meanwhile, in between discussing Sex and the City with the gay waiter (I'm assuming in a town like this there was only one) and nibbling on my halibut and risotto, Mike and I flipped through the book and discussed the finer points - like how to get out of a speeding ticket, and which road trip persona I should adopt.

I finished up and paid my bill (slightly annoyed to have been charged for both glasses of wine after all the entertainment my book and I provided, but oh well).

"Well, nice to meet you!" I said to Mike, sliding off the stool and picking up my purse.

"I guess I'll probably never see you again," he said, matter-of-factly.

"That is most likely true," I responded, surprised that he had said that. "Good luck to you!"

"You too," he responded. We both smiled amicably and I headed out towards my car.

All in all, not a bad evening spent with strangers at the Strongsville, Ohio Macaroni Grill.


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