Poor Robert’s Ruminations with Rob Whittle: Biscuits & Porn

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Poor Robert’s Ruminations with Rob Whittle:  Biscuits & Porn
Rob Whittle (courtesy photo)
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Life is absurdly comical when you pay attention. On a recent road trip from Alexandria to the Northern Neck of Virginia through Richmond and on to the Outer Banks, that concept was driven home to me.

In the Northern Neck, my first stop was to my river house on the lower Potomac, most of the way to the Bay. As usual, I had a handyman to-do list which occasioned a visit to the local hardware emporium.

I have a love/hate thing going with this store. Love because it’s convenient. Hate because nobody in the store knows anything. If I were the owner, the first thing I’d do is require all employees to actually take a tour of the store. I went in for anchor screws and they referred me to West Marine. If you ask for ten-penny nails, the likely response will be, “Hey, Darlene! Do we sell nails?” But it is nearby.

In Richmond, some of my pals were hosting an event called “Hands of Time,” featuring hundreds of fellow geezers pretending like we were still in college, sort of like a reunion. Normally, I think this is a good idea – it’s the third time they’d put the event on. The booze would flow, and they promised the band would be great.

The problem is that it was held at a brewery and vodka distillery owned by one of the hosts, and we were mixed in with the general public, all vying for a drink or beer at the cash bar with 15-minute lines. The band was definitely not for geezers, aka beach music, instead playing exclusively for the mostly millennials who seemed to dominate the crowd. If any of the hosts read this, I suppose I’ll be excluded from the next party. But, hey, I’m a columnist: I must tell the truth!

The next morning, I journeyed to Kitty Hawk to visit family. We headed south to the fishing and boat building village of Wanchese, just beyond Manteo. On the way, my sister-in-law pointed out a sign, easily visible from the highway. It read, “Bob’s Diner. Eat and get the hell out.” Well, I thought, at least the service should be fast. Another sign for another shop announced the name, “We got your nuts,” which seemed vaguely naughty.

In Wanchese, sure enough, a tuna boat was moored to the fish monger’s dock with the promise of fresh fish. As we were buying our dinner, I noticed a kid just outside the open door reeling in what looked to be a substantial catch. I stepped out to watch him haul in a striper, also called rockfish.

I asked him how many he’d caught and he told me as many as he wanted. Every time he cast, he pulled in another rockfish. The chum in the water from cleaning the tuna attracted his prey.

“You want one?” he asked. “Give me a sec, and I’ll get you a keeper.” With that, he hauled in a 24 incher. I asked him how much he wanted for the fish. “Nothin’.” I gave him a $5 bill, but before we were on our way, I had to exclaim, “Do you know how hard it is to catch one of these on the Chesapeake?”

On the way home, my sister-in-law asked me if I’d ever heard of the convenience store that went by the name Biscuits & Porn. This, I announced, I have to see – purely for column research, of course.

I Googled Biscuits & Porn, and, reliably directed, found the establishment on the bypass. When I walked in, I scanned the store for a back room. Not, to be sure, for biscuits. Seeing only a normal convenience store setting, I asked the woman behind the counter in a determinedly unembarrassed fashion where the porn was. “Right there,” she answered, pointing to a sad little rack with a few cellophane-wrapped magazines.

“That’s it?” I asked. “That’s it,” she replied with a little giggle.

Rob Whittle is CEO of Williams Whittle Advertising and is the author of two historical novels, “Pointer’s War” and “Pointer and the Russian.”

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