I honestly had to be excused so I could go to the bathroom and collect myself. I didn't want to look like a high maintenance baby in front of everyone and get upset over catfish nuggets. Dave had told me we were going to an organic buffet called Casey's for dinner that was expensive at $10, but worth every penny. He even encouraged Scott, Jason and I to lighten up on lunch and any snacks to leave room for this "healthy" feast. He practically slapped my hand away from the humus and pita chips appetizer his mom had set up for us on the back porch. We had been in North Carolina for almost 24 hours and had been on a few Dave adventures already, including a half mile paddle across a busy boating channel with a river like current, hiking across an island with our boards and camera gear, and surfing. It was the exercise I had been missing and craving, but by 7:00 p.m. I was starving. Bring on the Whole Foods style buffet! But Casey's was anything but organic. I didn't see a single thing in there that wasn't deep fried, besides the gravy which you could have served with a fork. There were pictures on the wall of assorted outhouses and real pig feet in the buffet. I caught a glimpse of what I thought was blood on the carpeting. Maybe it was barbecue sauce. Maybe it was animal blood...maybe it was human! After we approached the serving area, I was sure there wasn't anything I would eat and made my way to the bathroom to cut down on the amount of time I would have to spend smelling and looking at the pigs parts on people's plates. This is how Dave was, though. He lived for shock value. He loved seeing how we would react to heart attack inducing animal parts when we were expecting a salad bar. He would tell us we could sleep in only to wake us up at 6 a.m., jumping on our bed hollering an ACDC song he had blaring on an i-pod speaker while wearing a vest, cowboy hat and using a broom as a guitar.
I guess Dave was delivering the lesson I had been waiting for. The one I knew was in some crack or around a turn on this road trip. The lesson where I had to learn not to rely so heavily on expectations because life likes serve you pig feet instead of lemons. I wrote this all down while I was in line for the bathroom and when I realized it was my turn, I didn't even want to go. The floor was covered with toilet paper and the handle had ...soap on it? I couldn't feel bad for myself anymore, though. Not over catfish nuggets I expected to be kale. Later that night, Dave took us on a walk. He made us slog across low, wet paths saying things like "step lightly to avoid water moccasins" and took us tiptoeing behind peoples' houses that had residents he said had killed people and other things like "don't talk as we go behind this house, this women is a proud confederate with a gun!" I never could tell if he was telling the truth, but one thing I was sure of was that you always came away with good stories when you were with Dave. I made a million observations of him and the reason was, he had given so much thought to living right and always seemed to be having a good time. I'll probably never want to be just like him, but if I'm like him a little bit, I'd be happy.