The first time I saw a real life American cowboy was in Waffle House, Charlotte, North Carolina. Jim picked me up from the airport after a gruelling night of flying, and I’m pretty sure my first word was, coffee.
He drove his pick-up truck into the car park, led me inside my first Waffle House, and we slid into a booth. Ah … so this is what American diners are like, I thought. The menu was plastic coated and extensive, and although Jim was ravenous, I couldn’t bear the thought of food. The cheery waitress with bright red lipstick and big hair greeted us, and poured me a large mug of steaming hot coffee. It smelt delicious, but the first mouthful made me gag. It was horrid— bitter and strong. I was having a whine about it to Jim who sipped his coffee happily, when in walked a cowboy. He must have been about 70. He was wearing blue jeans, a checked flannel shirt, a vest, boots, and a large cowboy hat. He had a thick grey mustache, and as he confidently greeted the girls by name, and sat in what was obviously his regular spot, I couldn’t help but stare. In fact I did more than stare; I was downright creepy and took a photo of him as I wanted to keep a record of my first official cowboy sighting.
My head was filled with wild stories about his cowboy life and whilst I still complained about the coffee, I had to admit that the caffeine was doing its job, and that was good enough. Jim ordered scrambled eggs, toast and hash potatoes, and encouraged me to eat something. Oh no, I can’t—it’s way too early for me. As usual, my preconceived idea about how Jim’s breakfast would be, was wrong. I pictured hash browns McDonalds in Australia style, and I am not a fan. Greasy pockets of gross. Jim’s breakfast arrived and it was a breakfast of champions. He politely asked if I wanted to share. Just a taste I said, but those hash potatoes were something else! They were shredded potatoes made into a pancake style shape, and fried till crispy on the outside, and they were soft and creamy on the inside. The eggs were light and fluffy, and I marvelled. As I ate Jim’s breakfast, (isn’t that what girls do?), while he watched on hungrily, I kept my eye on the old cowboy. He sat comfortably eating his breakfast, stopping occasionally to chat to the girls as they refilled his coffee. It felt a little like I was in a movie scene.
It was an unusual experience. I was sitting across from my love, sharing breakfast, and despite his American accent which I barely even notice anymore, it all felt as though we could have been in a fast food cafe in Australia. But every time I looked up at the cowboy sitting at the counter, and took another mouthful of the delicious hash potatoes, I was reminded that I was in North Carolina, and it was amazing!