Well, after about 17 hours of minivannin' fun, we arrived in Arkansas. The trip was smooth overall, with the exception of a stop in Oklahoma. We swung into a Braums Ice Cream Store for a quick hamburger and fries, with the emphasis on quick. I should have known something was up, because there was a distinct smell outside the place as I entered the sliding glass doors; it was the smell of stupid.
As we walked in, two youngsters greeted us from behind the counter. Big ole' Oklahoma smiles, one accentuated by a set of glistening braces. Hey ya'll, welcome to Braums. This welcome was followed by giggles, another tip-off that my nose was right - stupid was in the air.
Braums-Girl #1 took our order and tallied everything up on the handy-dandy register and printed out a receipt for me and handed it over with a giggle. As I did a quick scan to make sure Hannah Braumtana had gotten everything correct, I noticed three charges that seemed, well, wrong. I took the receipt back up to the counter and said, "Look, I'm not trying to be contrary here, but you charged me for three milkshakes that were supposed to be a part of the Braums-Cares-For-Kids meals." I pointed the charges out to her so as to provide adult-like evidence. It was at this point that Braumney Spears slinked herself almost flat down on the counter, so as to get a good look at the receipt (I guess/I hope). I kinda thought we might be filming one of those music videos and I didn't know about it, such was her slithering. I stepped back, being a holy man and all.
She looked at each charge and then looked up (since I had not slithered down there with her) and giggled I don't know why that does that. I then counted to 5-Mississippi, all the while waiting for the rest of a sentence that never came. "Well, miss, is there anything we can do about it?" I asked. It was then that the cast of High School Musical Oklahoma Style huddled up around little miss moonshine and they all intently studied my receipt. From the middle of the pack emerged a 50something guy who declared It's been doing that for quite a while now. I don't know why that does that. I guess you'll have to go get Debbie's keys. The implication seemed to be that folks had been getting the register #1 shake-shaft for months and the staff was powerless before the Hal 9000.
Anyway, everybody looked over in the corner to a booth inhabited by Debbie the Manager, who was giving mouth to mouth to a large strawberry shake. Did I mention I thought I smelled stupid when I walked in? Debbie raises up one of the two she was sitting on and pulls out a ring of keys fit for the warden of a maximum security prison. It was at this point that the good Lord whispered in my ear, "Let it go, bub. Some things in this life not worth $1.29." I had never heard the Lord use the word "bub" or give exact dollars and cents, so I decided to trust and obey. I waved off Debbie wriggling that keyring out of Mr. Jordache and said, "You know what? It's o.k. Forget about it." And so we did.
There were maybe five people in this Braums but when order #413 was ready, Braummela Sue Anderson stepped up to a P.A. system and shouted Order #413's ready with the vigor I imagine Gabriel will bring to that trumpet blast. Once we stopped the bleeding in our ears, I headed back up to the headwaters of shame to get our trays. Upon arriving back at our booth, we discovered that three french fry packs were missing. I said something about a smell, right? By this point, I had developed a relationship with the hired help; we were almost on a first name basis.
I was now engaging teen #2 of the original wonder twins who greeted us at the door. "Miss, you still owe us three packs of french fries." Kung Fu Bruamda looked at my receipt and then looked at me and then glanced once more at the receipt and said I don't know why that does that. Ah, another whiff of stupid. She walked back into a mass of teenagers, displayed my receipt, and then demanded three fries, hurry!
After a few minutes that felt like eternity times two, some kid wearing a radioactive glove slung the grease free from a hopper of fries and Braummily Duff placed three packs of french fries on my tray and leaned over to whisper in my ear: Be careful, these are like 800 degrees and giggled. Oddly enough, I began to giggle as well, while at the same time having a feeling like I was in a POW camp, while at the same time beginning to shake uncontrollably, and at the same time noticing that Debbie was over in the corner eyeing me like man candy.
I walked back to our booth, handed the fries to kids #2 and #3 and said, "These are like 799 degrees; be careful." We ate quickly and wondered why in God's good name we chose this Braums. The front doors slid open and a single woman walked in to the same greeting we received. We wanted to yell, "Run. Run away. Now. Quickly. Go!" But we ate those fries too fast and burned all the flesh off the inside of our esophaguses; all we could do was pray the prayer of the heart.
We grabbed our things and left the Braumdy Bunch as we found them. As I walked past that no-good register #1, I was sure a patron was pointing out something to Braummerella only to hear this in return: I don't know why that does that.