Saturday, December 27, 2008

Otis Redding, tattoos and spinach pizza on a Saturday night

Macon, Ga. -- You gotta love a place that boasts an Elvis bust hanging on a wall.

Ingleside Village Pizza is hopping on a Saturday night. We wait outside on the sidewalk, enjoying the unseasonable spring-like weather, watching Jacob Lawson run to and fro.

This joint has an attitude. Servers that look like extras from "Little House on the Prairie" mix with those covered with tattoos. A sign in the restroom exclaims:

"Employees must wash their hands before returning to work. You should seriously consider it yourself."

It's located on Ingleside Avenue, in a section of this old Southern city that once would have been considered the suburbs, as Fountain City is to Knoxville. It advertises the largest selection of import beers in Macon.

And it has a jukebox (three songs for a buck). Somebody played The Partridge Family, but I opted for a couple of local artists (The Allman Brothers Band) and the incomparable Otis Redding), along with a work of genius, Paul Simon's "Graceland."

This location is moving across the street (the downtown restaurant near Mercer University is boarded up on a Saturday night when students are away) and patrons are popping up in droves to say goodbye.

"I don't understand that," Dewayne Lawson says. "It would be like if 4236 Foley Drive moved to 4238 Foley Drive."

We share sausage pizza with spinach. I pretend to play the Fender bass to Stax Records soul. And I watch people. The young couple beside us -- the guy in a baseball cap with a girl watching Jacob; the red-headed woman in the corner; the server with tattoos.

Why does an Italian pie always taste better when you're on vacation?

Maybe I should blame Pete Coors. Or the tattooed server. Or "I've Been Loving You Too Long" on the jukebox, in Macon's best pizza parlor, on an unseasonably warm winter's Saturday night.

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