“Figure out where we’re eating in Bowling Green,” my husband said as we drove by horse farm after horse farm in rural Kentucky on our way to Nashville.
“Why are we stopping?” I asked.
“It’s the home of the National Corvette Museum and Western Kentucky University,” he said.
“How are the sports teams at Western Kentucky?”
“I have no idea. Their mascot is the Hilltoppers.”
“Beats me. We’ll find out.”
“There must be a barbeque place in Bowling Green,” I said. Twangy music two-stepped through the radio. “Whatever it is, it has to be better than the local deli where we ate in Bardstown. I haven’t had tuna fish with pickle relish since camp.”
I scrolled through Yelp and Urbanspoon on my phone. “I found a place.”
After assistance from Google maps and Siri piping in, we pulled into a rutted half-paved parking lot next to a gray Purdue University van. We pushed open the glass door to the restaurant and stood in line behind a tall guy wearing tattoo sleeves and a woman in cut-off denim shorts. Instead of country music, Fox News blared in the background. Not a good omen. I strained my neck to read the Sharpie-written menu on a whiteboard.
“Bad barbeque vibes here,” I whispered to Jim. We stayed anyway.
“Help ya’ll?” the man behind the counter asked.
“I’ll have the barbecued chicken plate, please,” I said.
“We’re all out of chicken, ma’am. It won’t be ready for another half-hour.”
I hovered in barbeque decision no-man’s land. “Go ahead,” I said to my husband.
“I’ll have the pork shoulder with Coleslaw and beans,” he said.
“I’ll have the pork shoulder, too,” I added. “No sides.”
We were given a number and grabbed an open Formica table that happened to be under the television. Fortunately, the current weather on Fox excluded any apocalyptic predictions.
Our order number was called and Jim picked up two Styrofoam containers, napkins and plastic forks. We opened up our boxes at the same time and were presented with four slabs of brown material that looked like remnants from the floor of a tannery. I broke a prong off the fork trying to cut the foreign matter. So, I picked up a piece and took a bite, hoping I wouldn’t break a crown.
In the background Fox was airing a story about a man who broke the window of a locked car using the leg of his wife’s wheelchair to rescue a small Pomeranian mix.
“I can’t eat this stuff,” I said, poking at the brown Naugahyde-like road kill and waiting for a growl, except this creature had died centuries back.
“This is the worst barbeque I’ve ever eaten,” Jim said, wrestling with his lunch like a fighter in the ring at World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Hey, look at that,” he said looking around the room. Posters of Western Kentucky University’s men’s and women’s basketball teams plastered the walls. “The Lady Toppers won the 2015 Conference USA Championships.”
Some consolation. It certainly didn’t help the kitchen.