My husband and I are from the Midwest. People are genuine, patriotic, and live without pretense there. We treasure our roots and our dear families who remain there.

Yet we longed for adventure and that could only be found elsewhere. People who populate small towns are dedicated to preserving the past and present, but don’t want the future to change them or their surrounds. Our college experiences had expanded our horizons. So soon after we wed, we eloped to live in California, rather than confine ourselves to summer vacations.

While we still lived in Lafayette, Indiana, where I was on the staff of Purdue University and my husband was a MacMillan acquisitions editor, we traveled to San Francisco for a book convention. Somehow I’d heard of a famed restaurant, Julius Castle, so we traveled by cab from our hotel.

“Do you have a reservation?” the matre dei inquired. “No. We have one table left. Follow me.”

He seated us in a non-view table in the back… next to the kitchen where the waiters traipsed in/out with loaded trays hoisted aloft.  It was practically a card table with two folding chairs.

This pompous act repeated itself when we walked several blocks in a downpour from our Napa Valley hotel to The French Laundry restaurant.  There were no available tables for a couple of drowned rats in the entire establishment. Imagine that!

Again at a Name Forgotten Restaurant near the Performing Arts Complex. Despite the fact that every table in the place was visibly empty. We did not let the door hit us in the ass. We enjoyed the play after a delicious meal elsewhere.

These memories will never be expunged, though we didn’t allow any to damage our self-esteem. But, a last straw occurred recently at my Mercedes Benz dealer where I went for a minor repair under warranty. One of the sales features had been free car washes forever, the better to protect the mucho bucks brand. I never expected to hear “Do you have a reservation?” there…

And they missed Bruce Springsteen! But you won’t –