Snack Bar Only

"In the back, in the sports section, all the way to the right. If we have it." She waves vaguely towards the back of the store, and turns back to the cream-plastic computerized cash register. In one of the compartments behind the counter, in a small flat box, are the calf-skin gloves she splurged on at her lunch break. When she gets home, she will slip them slowly on, drawing the thin warm softness up over the lightly wrinkled skin of her fingers, palms, wrists.

The bookstore does in fact have it. I sit in the pickup out in the parking lot and turn the pages. "Blakley's Complete Guide to Golf Courses of North America." Arranged by state and province, little illustrated essays alternate with tight tables giving the name of each course and the features and facilities to be found there, cross-referenced to the numbered maps (maps copyright 1993 by Rand-McNally, used with permission). All the way to the right is the "Restaurant" column. A little knife and fork means "restaurant service, open to the public." A little "S", uppercase in a nice 12-point Bodoni font, semi-italic, means "Snack Bar only". The Fair Hills Golf Course in Great River, West Virginia has restaurant service, open to the public. The Ardmore Golf and Tennis Club in Marion, Texas has a snack bar only. I sit back behind the wheel, eyes closed, thinking about the restaurant in West Virginia with its stainless steel utensils, the snack bar in Texas where a light in the soda machine may be buzzing, about to burn out. Anticipating.

The pickup is red, three years old. On the back is a white truck cap, made by Truck Cappers, Albuquerque, New Mexico. The cap was installed, along with the moss-green carpet and the high-efficiency lighting, by Joe and Herb at Custom Auto and Truck. I added my sleeping bag, of unknown vintage and origin, and some cardboard boxes for food, books, and maps.

A small number 7 next to the knife and fork in the Restaurant column for the Riverside Golf Course reminds us (note 7) that the restaurant at the Riverside Golf Course is open May-September only. Fortunately, it is early June. I put the silver key into the ignition, start the engine, and pull out of the mall parking lot, onto Route 127. Something in the back, under the white truck cap from Truck Cappers, falls over. We are off.

The bread crumbs on the macaroni and cheese casserole at the restaurant at the Riverside Golf Course in Sarin, Pennsylvania, $3.95 plus tax, are pleasantly light and dry, browned at the edges, gently containing the shiny smoothness of the cheese, the plump softness of the short noodles. Marie, the waitress, is also the salesperson at the pro shop. Her nametag says "Riverside Golf Course", and also "The Waterwheel", which is the name of the restaurant. Blakley's Complete Guide to Golf Courses of America does not list the names of the restaurants. As I eat my macaroni and cheese casserole, with orange juice, and lime sherbet for dessert, I wonder if the snack bar at the Ardmore Golf and Tennis Club in Marion, Texas has a name. I wonder if the snack bar is next to the pro shop, near the back door.

The rain is light, and there is no wind, so Lonnie and Hank have the windows open, and a brown rubber doorstop holding the door. The air is cool. Out the open window by my table, over the tops of the poplar trees across Airport Road, is the water tower. The water tower is tall and bulbous and gray. On this side of the water tower, facing the Interstate, is a green eagle over the name of the town. The name of the town is West Elford, Maryland. The eagle and the name of the town are painted on the side of the water tower with deep forest green paint.

The water tower and the Airport Golf Course are on Airport Road, between State Route 12 and the Bryer County Airport. Hank, who owns the Airport Golf Course, also gives flying lessons and runs charters from the airport. Lonnie, Hank's wife, runs the golf course restaurant, and teaches at the West Elford Congregation on Sundays. The Congregation is back along Route 12, on the way to the interstate, downtown. I pay for my lunch, meat loaf and hash browns, $5.85 plus tax, and put my feet up. Outside the poplars sit in the rain, and beads of water run down the hood of the pickup.