It Took A Global Pandemic For Me To Find Wayne’s
As the various lock down and social distance measures set in at the end of March, one thing that seemed to pick up with something Lawton is really known for... Fast food. Given the relatively younger population here, Lawton has always been known for three things. Fast food, pawn shops, and really bad roads. But not all fast food is equal. I admit it. After I moved here in 2006, I never really gave a second look to Wayne's Drive Inn. I had moved here from South Texas, so I was just happy to discover Lawton had three convenient Whataburgers. (now Lawton only has two, but there was a third down at Lee & 11th in the 00's) but even then, when that burger occasionally got "old" to the pallet, Big Chef was there to serve as the King's Hand in terms of Lawton's best burger. I figured "What's the point in trying a drive inn I know deep down won't compare to MY drive inn?"
All my life, there was only two burgers worthy of being called "Better" than a Lone Star Whataburger... The first was from a joint called Jim's Burger Haven in Denver, Colorado. They still make some of the best burgers in America, but it still falls short of my number one pick... Dixie Dog Drive Inn in my adopted hometown of Ponca City, Oklahoma. While they may have represented the competition by sponsoring our rival little league team, even as a child I knew this burger was special.
One thing in life is true. You just can't beat a good greasy spoon burger from time to time. It's as rewarding a treat as ice cream, but better. Add in on top of it the special seasoned curly "Savory Fries" they served, and it was a perfect meal all around. This was before my small town had gained an Arby's, those are the kind of fries I'm talking about. That match of tastes was to my tongue as the sense of "crazy" is to Joe Exotic. A once in a lifetime perfect match. Nothing will ever top that combination, or so I thought.
Throughout this pandemic, one thing we've always heard stays true to this sense. You can judge a restaurant by how busy they stay. I know, I know, you're already contradicting me. I've waited an hour and a half for some buffalo wings before and had them come out ice cold too, but that's different. Nobody goes to BW3 to eat the food, people go for the atmosphere. They sell sports and serve food on the side. I get it, but every time I drove by one of the Wayne's locations, it was packed. It didn't even matter what time of day it was, 3:30 in the afternoon, it was still packed. So I asked myself if I had been too hard on my own appetite. Surely people wouldn't flock and wait for service at a place serving sub-par burgers right? So I reluctantly gave it a shot at lunch with Critter one day.
No lie, it was the best burger I've had since the last time I enjoyed my beloved hometown Dixie Dog in the Fall of 2018. The fries were something to get used to, but upon returning to experience that burger bliss again, I spotted the fried pickles hidden away in the lower right corner of the menu... I wondered how they might taste.
Spoiler Alert: They were amazing.
Now here I sit on day nine of my mandatory quarantine, and I've been obeying the rules. I've stayed at home for the most part, the only exception being a few pleasure drives through the mountains to get out of the house and a trip to our transmitter site to dump a bunch of limbs I trimmed up over the weekend.
Life Lesson #1 - It pays dividends to the soul to be a good friend. It will earn you good friends in return.
Yesterday around lunchtime, my doorbell rang at Casa de la Kelso. I ordered truck parts on Amazon, and while I'm not expecting them until today, maybe they hit the truck a day early? I was excited to open the door to find that little brown box with the stupid paper branded tape, but that wasn't what awaited me... It was a white paper bag with green writing and red accents... It was a Wayne's bag.
I'm not exactly sure who it was, everyone is denying it, but one of my buds dropped off my typical double-cheese and fried pickles for me. Life is good.
Life Lesson #2 - Don't be close minded just because you think you already know the answer. You might waste fourteen years missing out on your own Wayne's.