Thursday, July 29, 2010

You Can Take the Girl Out of Norms, but...

You can never take Norms out of this girl.
Today, after an exhausting morning of cleaning house--which included scrubbing tubs, wiping windows, and vacuuming--my parents and I went to Norms for lunch. For those who hate Norms, and I know you're out there, I can see why it might seem very unappealing. 
For starters, the crowd can be a little kooky. At any mealtime, you're bound to be eating with some interesting folk such as 
A) those who don't mind wearing their pjs and slippers out in public 
B) old couples who look really cute but then make you feel kind of sad because you realize they're chewing their food in silence and looking into space 
C) rowdy teenagers out to quell drunk cravings
D) bikers. 
Second, the restaurants are kind of old. No matter which Norms you go to, you walk in and feel like it's 1970, and not exactly in the groovy sense. And lastly, the food can be really hit or miss, i.e. on Friday you might say "These onion rings are soooooo good!" and on Saturday you might say, "These onion rings taste like they've been left outside for a week and some pigeons pooped on them." 
But you know what? I love Norms because, for me, it feels like coming home. Everybody is really nice, there's never a wait, it's insanely cheap, NEVER CLOSES, and you can tuck yourself into a cozy leather booth and just sit back and relax. There's no pretension, no menu on the item you're not sure how to pronounce, and nothing but all the comfort food you can order. Everything just feels so easy. Not to mention I've practically grown up there. When I was kid, I would get balloon animals on Tuesday nights, then after dinner it would be off to play that one game with the claw, or to put in a quarter for some temporary tattoo stickers of cupcakes and unicorns. Years ago, when our Thanksgiving dinner plans somehow went awry, our family sat down to a feast at Norms. Adam and I have occasional dates there and they're awesome. And since high school until now, I've lost count of how many times I've found myself hungry at 2AM after a late night out. The unanimous decision (and among so many different groups of friends)? Norms! 
Today, I sat across from my parents and watched them dig into steak, shrimp, and potatoes, and a massive strawberry shortcake. It's an image I've grown up with--sitting with the family, having a casual meal while making remarks about the interesting people around us. And while the years continue to go by and we've all grown up, that place is an experience that never gets old.