The most noticeable thing about Mama's Restaurant is the vents. There are lots of other things to notice, too. There are pies that look homemade sitting under glass domes on the lunch counter. The walls are littered with black and white pictures of old, unsmiling men holding up dead, unsmiling fish. Speaking of fish, there is also a singing one hanging above table 4. There is a painted sign made from a raggedy board that reads "Tennessee Wind Chimes" and has four rusty cans hanging from string. And if you order your salad with ranch, you can dress your greens using a squirt bottle. People round these parts don't have time to wait for pourin'.
And really, with all that going on, you might not notice the vents at all. They're just regular air vents, and we're all so used to seeing them that they sort of fade into the background, behind the old pictures and the Big Mouth Billy Bass. The thing with the vents is that there are about twenty on one wall. Mama's Restaurant is apparently incredibly well-ventilated.
We discussed possible reasons for the vents while we waited for our food. After deciding that actual, reasonable answers were boring, we made some up. Josh said it was where they piped the gas in, which was morbid. I said they were raccoon cages. No one laughed at my answer. Well, I did. There, I just did it again. Raccoon cages, HA HA HA, I kill me.
The food arrived and we were all happy to find it to be delicious. Mama's Restaurant is a greasy spoon, and until you try the food, you can never tell whether a greasy spoon is an undiscovered gem or the kind of place with real, live unwashed silverware. After making short work of my open-faced roast beef sandwich, I was feeling friendly and expansive, so I asked the waitress just what was the deal with all the vents. She said it was her first day. Poor thing. She probably studied the menu all morning before her shift, just so she would be able to answer any question the customers asked. She knew all the available dressings, she could tell you where the fish was caught, and she was absolutely prepared to let you substitute a salad instead of the vegetable of the day. And then I come in and start asking questions about the design of the building. She went and asked another waitress, one with big hair and a kiss-my-grits air. The second waitress didn't know either, but she did know that no one else knew, which indicated that it had come up before. She said the vents didn't even go to the kitchen.
Then she offered her own joke answer: security cameras. It's a pretty good joke answer, because it makes Mama's Restaurant seem like something out of Mission Impossible, where your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to procure an open-faced roast beef sandwich and a squirt bottle of ranch dressing. But be careful, because there are cameras everywhere, and if you set of any alarms, you'll immediately be gassed.
And then they'll release the raccoons.
Note: Despite what you might think from this picture, Mama's Restaurant is not actually blurry in real life. It is full of vents, though.