The Beauty Of A Diner And Simple Times
I Miss A Good Diner, The Sounds of Spoons Stirring, and Man Do I Need A Stack Of Pancakes
This morning I woke up generally annoyed with the current state of things. That did nothing. Took the puppy out and got the coffee going. Wondered what work would be like today. Kind of wishing I was able to stay home and deal with an array of binge watching and boredom. Thankful for a job and amazed at how fast my dislike for it vanished amidst the slew of uncertainty, sickness, and death. Those priorities got lined up real fast once everything I love is threatened. Got my lunch ready, loved on Foster, filled my coffee mug, and drove off to work.
In the back of my mind I could hear the clank of spoons swirling around coffee cups. I could sense the fullness of a good diner. I could hear people talking and see them stuffing their faces with rivers of egg goo and buttered toast. I could smell a tall stack of pancakes, visualize a side of bacon, and my mouth watered as I thought of spreading the butter and pouring syrup. A beautiful sight to behold. That small drop of butter melts quickly over hot pancakes. Covering them with buttery goodness and love. A stream of sugar seals the carb infused concoction. Providing instant comfort and succulent goodness.
Then I think back to grandma and comfort comes over me. All those times we stopped at a local diner. I remember her big gold car and her black purse. Her purse was filled with grandma stuff, but we were mostly interested in the gum. She always had some. Stuck a piece in her mouth before getting out of the car. We knew our turn was next. It was Wrigley. Would it be yellow or green, I was always hoping for yellow. You knew the taste wouldn’t last, but those first few chews were worth it. By the time we got into the restaurant it was time to trade that momentary satisfaction for long lasting ecstasy.
Grandpa drove us everywhere. He was like a machine. Stick a quarter in him and he would go. I don’t think the man ever considered anything as a detriment. Come hell or high water that gold boat would go. Taking grandma wherever she wanted to go. She would sit perched in the front passenger seat confident of where she was going. Sure that he would get her there. She demanded attention. He gave it to her. It would come as quite a big surprise to me when this woman would be reincarnated in my own daughter. The same mannerisms, demands, and desires. I can easily see my daughter sitting in that seat. Expecting to be taken where she wants to go. Having everything she needs at hand in her big purse.
Grandpa drove a lot up in Northern Indiana. We would go into Valpo, maybe head over to Michigan City, and spent a fair amount of time in Chicago where Grandma would go for her art fairs. Every trip needed and included a trip to a diner. Not something anyone would think much about, until they can’t go to one. Pancakes are just better there. There is something special that happens there. Some sort of permission you get when you walk in. It’s okay to eat there. It’s where people meet to talk and have fun. To get full for the day. It’s where that 20 year veteran waitress works. That one you love. She is there and you can count on her. She knows you want coffee before you sit down. She anticipates your order. Smiles and gets things done.
It is pretty flat up North. Long roads. You can see for miles. I can feel those cold crisp mornings. We were always up early at Grandpa’s house. He had been a full time farmer and bus driver. He was used to getting up early and getting things done. Grandma kept him busy so he needed as many hours as he could get in the day. My memories provide a glimpse of their long gold car. Some Chevy. I can see it floating down the highway towards its destination. Its task master cracking her whip and ensuring her driver got her where she wanted to be by when she wanted to be there. It’s as if that was all a dream now. As if it never happened.
We enter one of many diners. I can smell the coffee. Real plates, real people. Good folks. Good feelings. Everything is alright there. My mind is already racing. Will it be pancakes or waffles? Not eggs, I can get those at home. I want something special. As if there was ever a decision, it’s always pancakes. A side of bacon to cut the sweet down. Chocolate milk, when I was a kid. Now, coffee. I’ve arrived. People are loving life. Breakfast is important. We enjoy the fellowship of gluttony, but it’s not wrong. It’s a diner. There is chatter, clanks, clunks. It all gets finalized with the arrival of the green check on a brown check tray. The good diners have a mint. I love them to this day. Then we are off for our day.
I miss a good diner. I miss the days of that long gold Chevy racing down the highway. Of Grandma sitting up front confident in her demands and sure her expectations will be met. I was young and there for the ride and the great pancakes. Life was easy. Simple. I simply got in the back of the car and enjoyed the ride. Waited to see where we would end up. I didn’t have a care in the world. Life was good.
I miss the diners now. Of that local breakfast place. Of people packed in tight. Of wait staff trying to get through the maze and deliver your food without incident. Of the clanging of spoons against real cups. The smell of carb concoction’s and savory toast. Coffee aroma permeating the room. Plates pushed together. A glass cup dropped in the back. The sound of silverware and dishes piled in tubs. The sight of people enjoying more food than anyone can possibly imagine. The love of good food and the acceptance that we are going to eat it. The subtle moans of people getting full. The pronouncements of how big the pancakes are and how much bacon you get. It’s breakfast, it’s brunch, it’s a good life.
I miss a good diner. The comfort within. Of times of simplicity and ease. Of fun filled Saturday’s and lazy Sundays. Of the church crowd, the early risers, the loyal locals, and the trier outers. I miss familiar and certain. The certainty of good people and good food. The beauty of a diner.