The Mind and Music of Me
Paige, TX, has been a temptation of mine ever since moving to the Hill Country. Rarely do I run into a person who shares my name, much less a whole town of…Paigians, Paigonians, Paiginites, or Paige People (?). In particular, the Old Frontier Restaurant catches my eye each time I’m Houston-bound on 290. Its exterior has always reminded me of waiting in line for Splash Mountain at Disney World, a ride that my family and I rode 13 times in one day (a record, I believe).
So as a girl on a mission to conquer my fears and lower my inhibitions, Paige became a bucket list item. Time to see what ye Old Frontier had to offer.
As is customary on grueling 2 and 1/2 hour road trips, I need to use the restroom at every stop. As Aimee is shown to our table, I barge through the saloon-like bathroom door and you better believe I walked right in on two women in a one-seated room. Awkward.
“I am SO SORRY.”
“Aw, honey, don’t you worry bout it.”
Silence. Flush. Whispers. Sink. Dryer. Door. Speak.
“Again, I am really sorry.”
“Sweetie, I shoulda locked tha door.”
Why yes she should have.
Back at the table, our waitress is sweet as a peach although desperately trapped in September, 1983. I confess to her that we have never been “here”, and she is almost convincing when she acts surprised. She recommends the Paige Burger, and I refuse to let the cannibalistic opportunity pass.
Waiting for our feast, I take a good look around. The place isn’t exactly swarming with activity, but is more comparable to an abandoned rocking chair that occasionally picks up the pace when the wind blows. No music fills the air, although a one man band is setting up equipment in the corner. He either threatens or offers hope to the silence; we’ll never know as we heard not a single note. We are the only patrons seated at a traditional table. The other dozen sit atop bar stools circling the bartender. The creak of the front door sounds like a high-pitched horse whinny as another local emerges from outside the doorway. I remove my fingers from my ears just in time to hear the announcement. “I’d like to propose a toast: Er, ready, set, drank,” grumbled the greasy geezer in the corner as he took a healthy swig of Maker’s Mark straight from the bottle. The locals followed suit, cradling their beverages in hand, declaring “drank!”, and throwing a few back after a hard day doing…whatever it is that they do in Paige.
At long last, my Paige Burger arrives and I engulf it. And truly, it is delicious. Melted cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, and a pickle as thick as the meat itself. “Must be locally grown,” Aimee and I both think without actually taking the time to say. I must be sinking into a food coma of sorts, as I can remember few details from my trip post-burger. However the evidence suggests that we pay and decide it wise to hit the road.
Leaving the establishment, I remember wondering (out loud this time) if the delicious beef is of a local variety. Then I feel the pity of PETA as we race past countless herds of cattle. Moo. Oh well. I had done what I came to do. Bucket list item number 2: check.