Verna’s Two

Posted by Danny

My father-in-law plans a great trip.  And the best part about taking a journey with him is that you get to experience things that a normal tourist might not experience.

On our second night in Hawaii, the restaurant where we were planning to eat was packed and on that side of the island, there weren’t really other options.  So Pops pulled out his trusty tourist guide and started driving.  About 20 minutes later, we pulled up to Verna’s Too.  I’m surprised there was enough enthusiasm about the first Verna’s to open a second.

The guide-book described Verna’s as an inexpensive burger joint where all the locals hang out.  That was true.

When we first drove up, Michelle turned up her nose and said she wasn’t hungry.  The kid has a good sense about these things.

The woman at the window took our order with a ballpoint pen and a scrap of paper.  Her outfit was tight.  I was thankful the half wall covered the waist down.  Her form-fitting tight tank top was the same tan color as her skin.

She handed the order back to an older woman standing behind the grill.  She wore bedroom shoes and held the spatula in her hand; there was no smile.  She had a job to do and was focused on the griddle.  I got the sense she began her career at the original Verna’s as a very young woman.  She’d handled an order for 11 on many, many occasion.  This was not a problem.

The tiny dining room reminded me of the arcade at Permastone Lake, my summer haunt as a child.  I remember Undercover Angel playing on the jukebox as I ate snow cones with Steven Mozena my best childhood friend.  Their dining room floors were similar, concrete with a thin layer of wet sand on the top.  There were two options for sitting: a hard orange table with matching benches on the right and another on the left.  We split up – each booth only held 4.

Jesse was clear in his request, “NO MAYO.”  We all know to keep the mayo and, incidentally, garden peas, away from Uncle Jesse.  Almost makes him sick.

When his steak sandwich came out, the “special sauce” seemed an awful lot like mayonnaise – same color, same smell, same thick saucy consistency.  It wasn’t fully opened when it landed in the bottom of the 24 gallon metal trash can lined with a yard bag.  I suspected that they’d emptied palm tree clippings earlier that day to make room for the dinner rush.

It’s his own fault.  Who in their right mind orders a steak sandwich from a woman with sweat rings circling her armpits?

Our friend from behind the counter doubled as the food deliverer.  A side window opened from the kitchen to the gritty dining room.  She’d peak at the incoming meal and announce the next fare.

Michelle turned her nose up and anticipated my displeasure.

“Don’t get mad at me.  I told you I wasn’t eating that stuff.”

How could I argue?  She’d just seen her 33-year-old uncle toss half a cow into a Glad bag.

I opened my tin foil, the burger was hot.  Michelle nibbled at my fries.  The ketchup bottle looked clean, and I love me some ketchup.

I sniffed the bun as it neared my mouth – I had to do it if for no other reason as an example for my kids.

And it wasn’t half bad.  Sort of reminded me of a two-day old Hamburger Steak, Jr., from the Chargrill, reheated in the microwave.

I’ve decided my family is snotty.  The food wasn’t the issue for my kids, it was the atmosphere.  Somehow I’ve raised girls with country club taste on a YMCA salary.  How did that happen?

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