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You Can Eat Pancakes All Night Long....
by Turtle Jones
I think we might have been hungry when we sat down to write tonight. Maybe we should eat before doing this from now on. But we got to talking about food. We do that a lot. And then we got to talking about diners. Those amazing places that give you any kind of food you want any time of day.
All night diners. Is there anything they can't do?
Diners. What can you say? Necessary evil? Fun place to go? Cheap food? Well, that's a yes to all of them. Since I have been out of commission today, we are gonna keep this kind of short. I want to thank the two other editors for keeping up pace.
People who live in the suburbs might not know the joy of going to a diner. Well, joy really isn't the right word to call it. It is more like "there is nothing left to do" feeling that forces you to grab your car keys and head out. Four in the morning has no friends. You are alone. Sitting at a table, ordering coffee as you wonder why you can't think or sleep right. The only thing in your pocket is a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Just in case you get arrested for something, you need those cigarettes for when the hand you the Ziploc bag and kick you out on the street from jail. So they are with you.
Food is always sparse. One egg or two. Your head hits the table as you just try and think why you were in this place. Food. That's right. Just for food. I have a bad habit of talking to people and the pinnacle of that bad habit is in diners. I have no idea why I push my insomnia on other people and force them to endure my ramblings. Maybe I'm just mean. Maybe I just don't care. That's something I have to think about every time I wake up and look at the clock. Am I going to bother her with a phone call or walk down to get some food. It usually turns out to be the diner. So instead of a friend on the phone I get Marge cooking me eggs and sausage.
See, this is what is weird about me. When I am pissed at myself for doing something, I punish myself. I have no idea why I do this. I hate eggs. But if I can't sleep, I eat eggs. Kinda sick really. Man, you should have seen when I drank. When I was pissed at myself I would drink gin. To show myself how I fucked up. But, back to the diners, yeah I like them.
Coming off a drunken run, I went into these all the time. Great places. Pure grease. Nothing real good but something to do. Serve you a beer after hours and feed you eggs. That's what I like about diners. The ability to drift off and let everything go. Punishing yourself while drinking a beer.
Kinda like a Greyhound bus station over easy. - T
michele flips the burger:
It’s 8pm on a weeknight and suddenly you have a craving for bacon and eggs and toast and hash browns.
It’s a Saturday afternoon and you want a giant bacon cheeseburger with french fries and oversized onion rings and pickles and cole slaw.
Open 24 hours.
All kinds of food, all day and all night.
This is the place I got kicked out of about a hundred times. When I was a teenager, after the movies. A little older, after the club let out. Always too many of us, making too much noise, scaring away the patrons. Really? It’s 3am and while there are people in the place, they are all in the same boat as us; too tired to go anywhere else, too drunk to fuck. Maybe a few truckers sitting at the counter scarfing down pancakes or an insomniac sitting in a booth drinking coffee and scribbling notes for the Great American Novel on his “great mixed drink recipes!” place mat. These people aren’t scared of us. They crave us. We’re noisy and full of life and make them think about something besides how god damn lonely they are. They laugh with us, enjoy the show as we act like god damn kindergarten kids at recess. Hey, we made them smile. But the owner thinks we’re bad for business and he makes us leave. It happened a lot. But we kept going back.
Why? Because it’s the diner. Because you can get pancakes at dinner time and a roast beef sandwich at breakfast. Because they will deep fry your bacon if you ask. Because the matzohs in the matzoh ball soup are the size of a baby’s head. Because they make egg creams with the most amazing head this side of, well......me. Because when you are out with six people and one wants burger and one wants seafood and someone wants a Reuben and everyone wants something different, you can get it all. Because you can get a side of brown gravy with your french fries and your turkey club come with dessert and there’s a jukebox at your table that has Led Zeppelin and Journey and that makes everyone, even the 13 year old who is never happy, smile.
Sure, the smoking section is long gone and I don’t reek of pot when I slide into the booth anymore and I’m generally there with my kids or parents instead of ten drunks, but it doesn’t matter if the things I remember most about it are gone; the food is what’s still the same and that food kicks all kinds of ass.
And when I’m sitting there with my sisters at midnight and several groups of teenagers come in after the all ages club down the block lets out, all loud and stoned and laughing, we never, ever complain about them. We just smile knowingly and take bets on which is going to be the first group kicked out and which kid is going to be the first to go outside and puke up his burger, along with all the night’s vodka, in the parking lot.
Good times, good times.
So those on our thoughts on diners. Sure, they may sound weird and they may sound strange but they are still an oasis in the night.
We told you why we like diners. Tell us why you do.
Michele and Turtle wrote this Late Night Typing on empty stomachs.