Lyndol Wilkinson

Lyndol Wilkinson

Hero and I found ourselves untethered Saturday, looked around suspiciously and then at each other, and made the decision to go out of town for a steak.

Nobody was watching, and we just took off to the Leona General Store. We didn’t know who all would be there, but we knew that there would be a crowd so we’d better hurry.

Leona is country, and that’s a good thing. We love our restaurants here, have a special relationship with most of them and flat out hit the road most nights for dinner.

Hero doesn’t get it, but one thing is clear; when we eat out there is no kitchen duty. Just 42 miles away, we can speak to our dinner as we pass them grazing in the lush fields of Leon County and enjoy them on a much more intimate way as they sizzle on our plates.

Open only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, customers can cut loose on catfish, chicken or steak and have it their way.

Hero approaches it like a competition. “Come on,” he insists. “They’ll be lining up outside on the highway if we wait too long.”

He speaks the truth. Officially opening at 5:30 p.m., the crowd does come early, and sometimes wait long for the promised dinner.

We go on steak nights and know from the jump we are stepping into a time warp. There are no menus or complicated dishes. It’s what it’s advertised to be.

Oh, and the advertisement comes early and long from the agreeable patrons. It’s one of those situations where some talk long and eloquently about the full moist slab of meat that covers the plate.

Oh, and also, there is the plate that will not handle the 72 ounce rare steak, and the customer just has to lie about how much he ate, how rare it was and how long it took him to eat it.

Of course, I fret the small stuff. Small stuff that doesn’t come close to my business. I worry about who gets seated first, how quickly the tables turn over and whether everybody is polite about stuff. Always people are polite.

It’s country on Saturday night, and if anybody knows about country on a Saturday night, I’m the girl. Just so you know, there were at least two Pennington girls at the I-45 eatery just past Madisonville.

Several parties from Huntsville and Sam Houston students Hero knows from the golf course. Even as the crowd swelled to take in the entire front of the building, 20 assorted humans made up a birthday party, seven crowded around a table for six to catch up on all the family news and a darling little couple were just off work at the Nucor Plant in Normangee.

Tired, they didn’t seem to mind waiting. With 10 tables ahead of them, they settled in to enjoy the moment. Such impeccable manners, such sweet social skills and devotion to each other.

They did, though, want to know about Hero’s baseball championship ring. “Wow,” they both said. And then she told us about her Kendra Scott earrings.

“He (she leaned her head toward him) bought them for me,” she explained no less excited than the moment when she opened the bright yellow box to expose them gleaming in the light. “He bought me the same exact pair last year. I guess he didn’t remember, or maybe he just liked them a lot.”

I loved that candor and wide-eyed wonder. He just grinned.

Wonderful dinner, cool ambiance, sweet people. That’s what it was. A scene that proves God’s sense of humor. He created all of us and must have looked down and just laughed.

I had the blackberry cobbler. To go.

Fancy, huh?

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