Is there a better name than Truth or Consequences? Well, not all the locals think so, given that it switched from the original, more accurate Hot Springs when the 1950s’ Truth or Consequences TV show offered to air a program in the first town or city to change its name. Guess who won?
Passion Pie Cafe is a cozy place to hang out at a brightly painted table by a big picture window with an equally big French press pot of coffee. There’s soft jazz playing in the background, with the locals chewing the fat about everything from an overcrowded turkey hunt (“It’s hardly solitude”) to desert golf courses using a million gallons of water a day. Passion Pie also serves some fabulous, thick waffles topped with a mound of fresh fruit (and whipped cream, for the kids) or eggs. An older guy works off the waffle calories by painstakingly getting up three times to wander off for more salt and then pepper.
Cozy Passion Pie: Check the fruit and whipped cream covered waffle in background
Customer: “Your coffee’s strong.”
Cafe owner or worker: “Yeah, it upsets my stomach. I have to drink my coffee at home, before I get to work.”
While I’m checking Passion Pie’s hours, a guy across the street is picking up a couple of cigarette butts from the road. Probably going to smoke them, I’m thinking, when he calls out, “You from Saskatchewn?”
“Oh, you’ve seen my licence plates. I’m from Alberta, one province over from Saskatchewan.”
“Providence? Rhode Island?”
“No, provinces. We have provinces in Canada. They’re like your states.” “Just pulling your leg. I grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario.”
It turns out he owns the 1930s-era movie theatre behind him, when he’s not commuting to a firefighting job. We spend 15 minutes chatting about politics, war and the like (topics I wouldn’t normally broach with an American), while he gets pop, popcorn and candy ready for that night’s show. He’s running a one-man show tonight, selling tickets through the street-front window and effortlessly turning to fill concession orders (Why does it take six times as many people and three times as long in a big-city theatre?). In a few minutes, he’ll be off to turn on the projector. It’s only $5 for a first-run movie but, he says, some people still complain.