"What is this place?" my son asks as I navigate the minivan over the bumps in the parking lot and settle into the last remaining spot. The nondescript box of a building holds little promise for my kids. My wife raises an eyebrow.
Then we take our seats, food is ordered and delivered, and the transformation begins. "This is soooo goooood," our boy nearly sings, chowing down and forgetting the fuss he made just minutes ago. The girls are equally pleased. And as an enthusiast of grouper sandwiches (it's what happens when you live in Florida too long), I'd found pure bliss in the form of an unwieldy stack of grilled fish, lettuce, tomato, onion and tarter sauce. Adding to the euphoria were speakers rocking the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Who, even the Yardbirds! I was one happy daddy.
Don't get me wrong, I loved our Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings and am forever grateful for the countless blessings of my life. But at this particular moment, on this particularly noisy stretch of Gulf Boulevard, my heart belongs to a rough-around-the-edges seafood shack with plastic chairs, uneven floors and pastel fish murals on the walls.