Diner Diaries

Life and Times of a Patron of the King's Chef diner

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I really miss the diner. Not necessarily the diner as it is now, but the diner as I remember it--Gary or Dave at the grill, Dread doing dishes, warm and cozy on a cold winter day when it felt like an oasis from the storm. Gary had a lot of my time (and a lot of my money). But I learned a lot in the diner, about people, about accepting people as they are and looking beneath the surface. The diner allowed me a chance to escape my upbringing with my very regimented view of people and my unreasonable expectations for everyone's behavior. It allowed me to shed my prissy past and become more warm and open (I think).

Plus, the diner provided me with a lot of really wonderful food, a foolproof decongestant--Gary's green chili, and awesome iced tea. It was the first place where anyone bothered to know me well enough to prepare things to my liking. Many places never bother to treat you as a human being, but as an intrusion. Gary, Dave and Dread treated me as a valued customer--a friend even.

I think of them with affection. I hope Dread got his GED and is moving forward in life. I trust Gary is doing his best to be an awesome husband to his precious wife, a good daddy to his children, and a good provider. I imagine Dave is working in a restaurant kitchen somewhere, riding his bike to work, and that someday I will walk into a restaurant, or take a walk downtown and see him, either behind the grill or the handlebars of his bike.

I hope you find a place where they know your name, how you like your tea, how much dressing you like on your salad, and what you want for lunch before you mention it. When you do, I hope you are friendly, grateful, generous and loyal. It's worth it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Couple of things on my mind. One. Never go to the diner on Wednesday. Whack The Waitress Wednesday is no joke, and it’s not a sight I ever want to see again. Ick.

Two. Just got an email newsletter telling me how to “stay productive in down time”. So that I can continue to work and “be productive” even when I am out of the office, out of cell range and away from the internet. Goody.

Can someone tell me what’s wrong with down time? Down time is when we relax, regenerate, play, think, come up with new ideas, solve problems, and regain our good cheer. Down time is what keeps us sane and human. Do not tell me that my time can be eternally, non-stop productive. I don’t carry a cell phone, a beeper, a PDA, a laptop with wireless internet access, nor do I wish to do so. I don’t want to be available 24/7 as one of the guys in my office claims to be in his voice mail greeting.

Leave me time to think, to create, to observe, to speculate, to formulate, to dream, to plan, to be. Leave me time to read, to listen, to talk, to socialize, to do anything or nothing at all. Was the Mona Lisa created by striving to do away with “down time?” Was The Lord of the Rings written by wringing every last ounce of production out of every minute, or the 1812 Overture dreamed up during a planned break in Tchaikovsky’s DayTimer?

I worked briefly at a software company. The programmers and software engineers were required to creatively solve problems for their clients and to dream up solutions to problems they had not clearly defined. Did they do so by squeezing every minute of it’s requisite results? No. In fact, the office included a prominently placed foosball table, as play was recognized as a spur to the ideas and problem-solving these folks were tasked to do.

So, unlike many articles which have a kernel of an idea I can make my own, please take the ideas for eliminating down time and file them where they belong, with other failed stupid ideas—communism, the flat earth groups, bringing Phil Donahue to cable, etc.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Yesterday I squeezed into the last open seat, between a cute, slim man to my left and an older graying gentleman to my right. DUI was at the far end of the counter with two of her friends Trish the Dish and Heather.

Slim’s friend, #87, was initiating him properly. His manhood being questioned for ordering a half, Slim had relented and ordered the full Grump. (This is the hashed brown, eggs, meat, gravy and cheese dish which could keep a small army alive through a long harsh northern winter.)

It’s always fun to watch a diner virgin experience his first time, and Slim got the best of it--diner full and Gary and Dave working all out to keep up. Gary is still enjoying the huge card I made him for his birthday and left for all the diners to sign. I guess some of it was fun. I still apologize for the caricature.

Slim plowed into his meal, after determining that quitting was not an option, and although it was tough, he stated, “This will not beat me.” His buddy had no sympathy. “You said you were hungry.” “Not Ethiopia hungry!” Slim was still groaning as he walked out the door.

Gary is carrying on a flirtation with DUI. Now what’s wrong with this picture? Ah, I get it. In some ways guys are like girls. Some girls always pick the Wrong One. And some guys, well, I guess they see the writing on the wall, but they think it says “This Way” instead of “Rough Road Ahead.” Diner’s closed.

Thursday, December 05, 2002

Mark the Reporter walked in as I was finishing my french fries, trying to decide what to eat to lower his cholesterol. Been there. Done that. After ordering a “modified King’s Chef Salad” (also known as a “Queen Salad with meat”), he read the latest issue of Maxim while Dread gave him a hard time.

Mark is still catching grief about my “gay” comments. He takes it well. The counter chick is wearing her Catholic schoolgirl outfit again, which inspires generous tips from the male clientele. She razzes him about some articlet he is looking at. Apparently all your choices along the way point you to who you will wind up with. (Sounds like Cosmo questionnaires except with pictures.)

“No matter what you do you’re going to wind up with him.” She points to a picture at the bottom of the page. “Not anymore. I tried the homosexual thing, but I forgot to use the magnifying glass by Gary’s bed like you told me to. It was so small it scared me away from ever trying THAT again.” Ha. Ha. A line he would have preferred to use with Gary there, but . . .

After a brief discussion of sports and dating, Mark poses the question, “What does a girl mean when she tells you she’s ‘sort of’ seeing someone?” Well I must say, I’ve been married my entire adult life and have never been a party girl or a bar-hopper, so I couldn’t say. Mark also says women lie more than men do. I don’t know if that’s true, but we do respond differently. I would be less blunt than a guy, listening to my mother’s voice in my head saying ‘Kim, be polite.’ So where a woman might not think it’s polite to say, ‘I honestly have no interest in seeing you ever again’ she might let him call and be conveniently unavailable every time he calls. On the other hand, guys might say ‘I’ll call you’ when they mean ‘if figure skating is on every channel, the bars are all closed and everyone I’ve ever met is unavailable, I’ll call you.’

A woman might pretend to like basketball, when what she really likes is spending time with the guy. Once they are married and she gets to spend more than enough time with him, she won’t have any reason to watch basketball anymore. The reverse is that a guy might go shoe-shopping with a girlfriend, but if he goes with his wife, he’s either whipped or has a secret longing to slip his feet into 4-inch stilettos.

Of course, I actually like it that men say what they think, except when it’s my husband saying he doesn’t think I’m dressed properly for an evening out, or that he’s mad that I spent too much money. But he doesn’t think I give him a straight answer when he asks my opinion. That polite girl-thing that isn’t supposed to hurt anyone’s feelings gets in the way. Instead of saying, “no, I don’t think we should do that” I might say “I’m not really keen on that idea, though it would probably work just fine.” Drives him crazy.

Of course, the safest thing to say is, ‘whatever you decide will be fine, honey’ and you know what? It almost always is. The little stuff we get our shorts in a wad about are usually so trivial they don’t matter the next hour, much less the next week, or month, or year.

Diner’s Closed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

House Poor

No one said that more than three years after buying the house we would still be living in chaos. We bought a thirty-year-old house that needed "cosmetic work." Well if replacing all the carpet and flooring ($4000+), replacing both bathrooms ($3000, with one to go), the screen door ($200), the garage door ($650), the hot water heater ($200), disposal($50), leaky windows ($2700 so far, with 4 more and a sliding glass door to go) qualify as "cosmetic work" okay, but I'm not done. I have invested $250 in interior paint, $660 in lighting, $250 in wallpaper and countless other "minor" items. The kicker, though, is the deck. Two inspectors said the deck was fine, but forced the seller to repaint it. Our insurance company came and inspected, telling us we must replace it within 30 days or they would cancel our coverage. Cost? $3600.

Did I mention the yard? Oh, do I have to? In three years we have been unable to run the sprinklers, though we've spent plenty of time and money fixing, repairing and adding to it. Just this summer, one of the inlaws helping us with the sidewalk poured the excess concrete into the control box. We spent a small fortune removing the juniper bushes which hid the house from sight, grew over the sidewalk and to which I am allergic. Dumping fees alone nearly bankrupted us. Removing the rock from the eyesore of a side yard cost over $400.

All of these items would have been far greater if we hadn't done some or all of the work ourselves. And we're not done. I still can't use the living room; the kitchen is a pit; the downstairs bathroom is closed off--unusable at the moment and we can't afford to replace it yet.

Still, I wouldn't go back to renting. No rental would have permitted me to have an "Opera House Red" living room or to wallpaper the dining room, or to paint the family room two different colors, just because I wanted to. The yard, such as it is, is mine. No one can tell me I can't run water through a rock in the side yard and create a fountain out of it.

Thursday, November 21, 2002

As I haven’t been to the diner in days L, I thought I would let you know what I’ve been up to. Tuesday I had an interview for a second job. After all day in front of a computer, I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do even more computer work after hours, so I applied for a job in retail.

I was totally floored that I was hired on the spot. This should be fun, although there was some testing that I still don’t have the results from which could stop the whole thing. I was told that they are considering putting me in fine jewelry. Cool!

Anyway, I should hear sometime today or tomorrow the results of the tests. I imagine bizarre happenings, like them switching my “test” with that of the rough-looking woman who tested right before me and her showing up clean, while my test looks like a DEA handbook. I imagine my asthma medicine setting off alerts all over the lab, mistaken for some illicit substance I’ve never heard of with only a series of initials for its name.

I can see an FBI alert coming over the wire during a background check, pointing me out as some bank robber or embezzler. Paranoia is an amazing thing.

That was Tuesday.

I’ve been working on my fruitcake. Not the hard bricks sold in King Soopers, dry and bitter, but a luscious recipe made with a variety of dried fruits and nuts soaked in rum. After baking, they sit for 4-6 weeks soaked in rum, they are dark aromatic loaves of heaven. It takes a couple of days to finish baking and costs a small fortune.

If you are a VERY good little girl or boy, perhaps you’ll get one from me.

Monday, November 18, 2002

Gary is awfully cheerful now that he has three days off in a row.

Shortly after I arrive, telling Dave to “surprise me” when he asks what I want to eat, It’s just me, a skinny, non-descript man finishing his meal and a lovely girl with brown upswept hair and beautiful, big, wide eyes and a flawless complexion.

“I got a DUI,” she tells Gary.
“Why’d ya do that?”
“It was stupid.”
We all agree.
“Do you have a lawyer?”
“Why not?”
“I was trying to decide if I should get one or not.”
So Gary hooks her up with the “best DUI lawyer in town.” Now why does it surprise me that he knows this?

Shortly after, the diner is filling rapidly when a tiny, little, true, natural blond comes in. “Hey, Gary.”
He seems please to see her. “What’s up?”
“Just got out of jail.”
“You did not.”
“Yes. I did.” She’s serious, although almost manically cheerful. She looks about fourteen.
“What for?”
“I beat up Pete.”
Gary changes the subject, he thinks.
“Did you ever make up with Gypsy?”
“Oh yeah. She took my kids for me.”
“Where’s Pete?”
“In prison.”
They go out and talk for a minute.
After they return he asks, “So you have court?”
“Yeah, 1 o’clock. They’re going to put me back in.”
“Where are the kids?”
“Rocky’s got ‘em.”
“Do I know him?”
“No. He’s a friend of Pete’s.”

Ohmigosh. Amazingly, this golden gloves champion and her sparring partner have spawned children but do not think it important to provide them with parents who will restrain themselves and actually be there for them. I think I’m going to be sick.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

A note to Mark: Journalism rule #1: Check your facts.

As a matter of fact, the exact quote was: “We think Mark may be gay” Not, “he is gay” or anything like it. I even had the little smiley face symbol there. Okay?

Here’s a hint, folks, a lot of what I say is tongue-in-cheek. Not. Completely. Serious.


My budget is putting a serious strain on my visits to the diner. I can excuse it when the kids eat all the sandwich fixin’s and when I just can’t bear the thought of microwave corn dogs (did I mention that before?) Anyway, today I wound up back at the diner. Things are changing there, so it’s a rare day that the three amigos are in residence. Today it was Gary manning the grill and counter and Mike(?) doing dishes and cold prep.

An older derelict fellow walked in, cigarette hanging from his mouth. “There’s no smoking in here.” So he ducked halfway out the door and the cigarette disappeared, although the stench didn’t. “Just a cup of coffee, no cream, just sugar. A level spoonful.” He repeated his instructions about the level spoonful, and sat at the “back counter”. The stench was 80 proof and old cigarettes. After a moment or two I felt dizzy, and a little guilty for not turning around and chatting with the old guy, but I couldn’t breathe.

What circumstances, what private hell, what character flaws, what emotional, mental and physical difficulties contribute to the making of a bum? I look at these guys and I see them as cute little two-year-olds, grinning up at their mom and dad, no one having any idea what lies ahead. What hopelessness allows a man to live like this, and what spark of humanity resists death when life is so grim?

Latecomers, an older couple, he as bald as a cue-ball, looked like a biker, she with a good half inch of gray growing out beneath her brown dye, ordered burgers and fries. “What’ll you have to drink?” He ordered a Pepsi and she asked, “Do you have raspberry iced tea?” “No raspberry tea, no lemon, no decaf.” Just regular tea. The real kind. Lipton, brewed and poured over ice. No sun tea, no herbal, no chai, no latte, cappuccino or espresso.

She is not dismayed. “My dogs have this theory—it’s always no until you ask.”

It’s a great line. My dogs are the same way, come to think of it, and no matter how many no’s they get, they still ask with the same hopeful expectation every time. They never get discouraged.

Boy, I should be more like that. Never let rejection daunt me or dim my hopeful expectations. Always ready to be excited by a ‘yes.’ I just love dogs.

And even though Gary is still on his “you have to go to a strip club” kick, I guess I’ll keep him as one of my favorite people. He has a nickname for me that might take him off the list, but we’ll see.

Well my break is over, so back to work. Diner’s closed.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Before I get to today’s post, I must issue an apology to Mark the Reporter. I’M SORRY I SAID YOU WERE GAY. YOU ARE A MAN OF DISCRIMINATION AND TASTE WHO IS NOT SO SHALLOW AS TO DATE A WOMAN MERELY FOR HER LOOKS. I do hope that suffices. I won’t go into the reasons why you turned down the girl, but . . . well, I’m sure you made your mother proud.

It’s Veteran’s Day, but while the government offices which surround my building are all closed for the day, I’m at work. The day is cold, and seems to be growing colder, with clouds slowly sinking down the mountains into town. The upside of working on a holiday is that I can legally park in front of the building without risking a ticket. The downside is the restlessness which keeps me from sticking to my plan to eat yogurt and microwave corn dogs for lunch and heading down to the diner.

It only takes a moment in the fresh air for my spirits to lift. A brisk walk is just what I need to chase away the blues which have been hovering all day.

Gary is manning the grill and the place is virtually empty when I arrive. He informs me that one of my co-workers had shown up moments before but he told him “we’re closed.” There is some real hostility between Gar and Pepe. (I actually like the guy, but I don’t think I want to know about his activities outside the office.) So I guess I won’t mention the fact that Gary cooked for me. French toast, which I’ve never eaten there, and in fact I rarely eat at all, cause it’s so greasy. A cold day calls for comfort food, don’t you think?

Anyway, he actually did close the grill after cooking my meal, turning away a few straggling customers, including Mark, who sat for a while and harassed me about my previous entries, my use of the word irony and my mistaken description of the girl as “tall”. Apparently she’s 5’2” or so, and I misjudged due to the stairs involved. So-o-o sorry. I hate being wrong.

Well, my little fun blog is being shared not just by Gary and a few select friends, but has been passed to a few diner customers. How am I supposed to make fun, be sarcastic and indulge in irony with the objects of my jests and jibes reading? I hate to hurt and offend people.

Ah, well, Gary has decided that I need to go to a strip club to further my education. He doesn’t believe that I have never been, nor have ever wanted to go. Well, I rarely lie, and I certainly would not lie about this. I even turn my head when strip clubs are shown in movies or TV shows. It just seems icky to me. Well, let me tell you, you would have to knock me unconscious to get me in one. Not my thing at all. It is so sleazy. Bump and grind for a bunch of slovenly drunks drooling in their beer. Gee, now why doesn’t that sound more appealing?

Whatever happened to sex and sexuality being a private thing? I have been married for more than 20 years, and I do not discuss this part of life with anyone but my husband. Why would I? Shouldn’t some things be just for the two of you? Does the entire world have to be in on the discussion? Does everything have to be so flagrantly displayed? Where is the love and romance?

It seems as if the entire world has decided that we are mere animals, slaves to our emotions and the chemical processes of our bodies--debasing who we are as the highest of earthly creation, created in the image of God.

Have a little dignity folks!

Another thought occurs to me. Sex is like the ultimate inside joke, no pun intended. It’s the wink between the two of you, the tender glance, the loving smile, the private hopes and dreams, the moments of indignity, the private sorrows and fears, the many conversations which no one else knows. It is the delicious box of chocolates hidden away in the back of a drawer to be savored in private. It is the unspoken conversation held in one glance, one lifted eyebrow. It is the trust and care of years. It is the desire born of lust, birthed in commitment and raised in trust, tenderness and trials. It is both portion and entirety, both symbolism and substance. Beautiful and funny. Lovely and undignified. Why would you want to share that with the world?

Thursday, November 07, 2002

And the saga continues . . .

Driving to work yesterday who did I see pulling out of the diner parking lot? Stalker3!! She is persistent. She has great hair. I think I’ve mentioned that before. (I’m kind of obsessed by great hair lately, as a medical condition is causing my hair to thin rather dramatically. I’m able to hide it pretty well at this point. I hope to stop and then reverse the trend. We’ll see.)

I’ve never understood pursuing the guy. (Okay, my friends will remember the whole Mark Tucker thing back in 4th grade, but that doesn’t count anymore, does it?) Few men really appreciate the whole Stalker thing, although I suppose some men and women are flattered by ANY attention. I’m turned off by anyone who is TOO interested. When you have self-respect, you don’t hang around offering what isn’t wanted. A little dignity please!

Monday, November 04, 2002

One of the bad things about blogging, is that I am tempted to forget that there is a potential audience out there of millions. So, unlike writing in a journal, I must censor myself, for some of the things I most want to comment on are personal and private to another. And so, if I want to be a decent person (shocking in this day and age, I know) I must forego mentioning some things that just beg to be written about.

Let me mention this one thing. Stalker3 came in the other day, flashing her bra, showing Gary a little of what he’s missing. If Gary can hold out under this kind of pressure—well, I may have to rethink my bet. Perhaps he will get beyond her after all.

It may be time to do a Dave piece.

Dave, the cook, is a shorter, lean man. Looks like he may be pretty fit under those loose-fitting patterned jeans and t-shirts he wears. He’s bald with the aid of Bic, and apparently used to have a braid to his waist. He’s pretty careful about what he eats, mixing up protein shakes for himself every day.

I’m not sure how old he is, though he’s likely in his late thirties or forties. (Men age so well, don’t you think?) He’s another tattoo-wearing guy, and I’ve never seen him without a backwards ball cap on his head. I’m guessing he’s older, not by his looks, but by his attitude with the others. He often has an indulgent kids-will-be-kids expression on his face, shaking his head at some of their foolishness, and tolerating the music rather than loving it like Dread-less or Gary.

I recognize that head shake. It’s the same one I do when the kids are being just a little too silly or a little too gross. It’s prior to the all-out “turn that crap off!” after too much time or too many decibels of crappy music.

Dave stays pretty much on an even keel, even when one of the “kids” keeps screwing up, he explains things patiently, or shows how something is done briskly, keeping his tone and volume fairly level, even when you can tell he’s frustrated. It’s a good thing, because these guys work in really tight quarters.

Well I’m off to go pick up a soda at my favorite spot. Talk at you later.

Monday, October 28, 2002

Just before noon the diner is fairly quiet with only three or four diners at best. The guys are relaxed and happy today as I sweep in. (I never walk in my red leather boots, I sweep or I glide, saunter or sashay on the three and a half inch heels.)

The trouble with going early is that the hunger pangs have not coalesced into definable urges. At this point all I know is I want something hot, cause my cold has turned into a fever and I have been shivering all morning long. I finally decide on a breakfast burrito, an unusual choice for me, as I rarely eat eggs at lunch time. It’s awfully good, although it’s carbs and fats all the way.

The diner quickly fills to SRO, and once the older lady with the painted on eyebrows leaves, its 18 guys and me. Oh boy. I’m not the only one in a breakfast mood, as three guys in a row order “the Grump”, hash browns, sausage, ham or bacon with three or four eggs cooked your way, covered in country gravy, green chili or both and smothered with cheese. This is one of those four-inch high meals that could feed an entire developing third world country for a day.

One guy spends so much time deciding what to order, I swear I watched his hair turn gray.

Dreadless doesn’t work today, so Gary and Dave manage the place by themselves. It’s really hustling to keep up the orders cooking, prep and clean-up with just two people.

There’s no time to linger for an easy chat today, I came early enough that every seat is in demand, so I cannot stay, even though just before I stand up to go, one of the guys asks, “So Gary, what’s up with your love life?”

He’s not going to say with me there, and grins at me, while I just look at him with a cheerful look as if to say, “I dare you.”

I wonder if something’s up. I think I might win the pool.

Well, back to work for a slamming day. I’ve accomplished nothing that I had planned. Too many emergencies and interruptions. Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Diner’s Closed.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

It’s a cold day, overcast and gray, the streets are still wet from drizzle overnight and I forgot my coat. Woke up late, forgot my coat and here I am with the start of an amazing head cold. So, instead of hiking the 4 blocks over to Detz’s Restaurant (a real greasy spoon) with a friend from the office, I dash on over the block and a half to the diner.

It’s nearly 1:30 by the time I arrive, so the place is pretty empty when I sit down to order. Stalker3 is there, and it amuses me to watch Gary around her. He’s grinning at her like a damn fool, good-naturedly arguing with her about a book he thinks she should write. She’s hesitant and asks for help. “I gave it to you right here.” He shoves a ticket with the basic outline of her book. “If I have to write it for you, I’m gonna be the one making the money off it.”

One thing leads to another and I get to talking with her. Damn. I like her.

Things loosen up a bit when the three guys start cleaning up. (Gary, Dave and Dreadless are here today.) Laughing and joking when Mark2 drops by. He sits at the counter and is kind of serious. His new girl is coming to town. Well, she’s a new girl who was an old girl before he was engaged to the girl who just broke it off. Following me? Anyway, Gary is ragging on him, some inside joke, which quickly turns into gay jokes and then Gary is mentioning the Painted Lady. Don’t ask.

“Man, you need to go to a titty bar.” Gary tells him. But Mark’s not interested. “You’ve probably never even been in one.” Well Mark has, and tells the story of this topless bar in Louisiana.

"We go to this bar, and I’m not kidding you it’s in this mobile building. There’s a makeshift stage and this guy is waving these flashlights around for the lights. On stage there is this African-American woman and I’m telling you, she must have been about 12 months pregnant. Her stomach was huge and her breasts were all swollen from lactation. Her belly button had turned so far out it looked like a penis. It was really horrifying."

And thanks Mark for THAT mental picture.

That’s all for today folks. Diner closed.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Running in after my allergy shot I only had time for a brief meal, which worked for me since I was in the mood for Gary’s fries. It’s been months since I’ve really eaten fries. Yumm! I don’t know what spices he uses, but they are good.

As I was entering a tall, leggy beautiful blonde was walking out the door. Beautiful face. Gary says she asked Mark the reporter out but he turned her down.

We think Mark may be gay. :-)

Gary was seated in front of the counter today as he has a new girl—yes I said a GIRL—behind the counter. Short denim skirt, clunky black mary janes, sweater and a bunch of silver jewelry. Seems friendly enough, but a tiny bit overwhelmed. We’ll see.

There’s a new guy on clean-up duty, he hasn’t been there long enough for a nickname.

Well Gary has seen “Diner Diaries” and got a kick out of them. Hmmm. I haven’t even shown my mother. Good thing I didn’t meet him when I was seventeen, I would have been in trouble! (Okay, so he would have been nine and I would have been in jail, you know what I meant.)

I’m impressed by people who have what it takes to start and run their own businesses. I wonder if I have it. I think I do, but I hate to rock the boat with my husband, and having been homeless three times, financial security is much more important to me than it used to be. I would hate to lose it all again.

I have another buddy who sells the most amazing baked chocolate popcorn (www.kettlebake.com), and is just starting out. The stuff is amazing, and to keep himself afloat while he does this, he sells wonderful homemade muffins, cookies and cheesecakes door-to-door. I buy from him every week, though it’s a bit of a stretch to fit it into my diet. He’s going to be the next Orville Redenbacher or Famous Amos. I’m telling you. Keep an eye out for Kenneth Harrell. He’s going places.

Well, back to the rest of my day. Diner’s closed.

This is from 10-22. Forgot to post it.

Okay, I promised to tell you about the diner. Well, it’s a little place, seats 13 hip-to-hip, and has been in business at the same location for 50 years. To run a place like this more or less successfully you have to be a bit of a character, ‘cause people come to see you as much or more than they come to eat. That surely was the case with Sam, the previous owner who is reputed to cook while smoking and occasionally dropping ashes on the grill as he cooked (uh, yum?) and is definitely true of Gary.

Hey, where else do you pay $5.00 for a great burger and get a floor show thrown in for free?

The current menu has items such as “The Thing” and “The Grump”, two meals that fill an oval platter about 5 inches deep. It’s enough food to feed my entire family, but these guys (and some “chicks” and even some little kids) can polish off the whole thing in one sitting.

Until some kids came and cut it down, there was a banner out front which read “The Food Sucks, The Service is Worse, Come on in.” That’s the kind of thing which makes this little purple castle a guys place. (“Chicks” are welcome, but it’s not a chick place—no frou-frou anything except the lettuce.) The magazines are Maxims and FHM, and some biking magazines.

Today I arrived to a nearly full house, but there was a seat open right next to . . . guess who? If you guessed anyone other than Stalker3, you guessed wrong! I have to admit she is gorgeous. Great hair, great nails, great smile. You can bet there aren’t many guys who turn her down.

She’s persistent with ol’ Gary, and I’ll be surprised if the break-up sticks. Let’s face it, he loves her kids, and no matter what baggage she brings, no matter how emotionally disturbed she may be, she’s the kind that attracts guys who are either abusive or rescuers. Guess which kind Gary is . . . well, he’s not an abuser, that’s for sure.

Quiet lunch--Gary seems a little flustered even after Stalker3 leaves. Interesting . . .
I’ve got to tell you, I managed to read the list she wrote of reasons she loves him . . . well, it would take a tough guy and a pretty strong motivation to resist that, and I’m telling you, any woman reading it would want to know THAT guy. I was prepared to be cynical, (I’m awfully good at that) but it got to ME, and that’s saying something.

I would love to post that list. Beautiful stuff, but entirely too personal for the entire world to see. She’s good at pouring her heart out, that’s for sure. It’s a good thing I’m happily married, or Gary would have Stalker5! (LOL)

Lovely day here, autumn has fully arrived, and there are conflicting reports of the possibility of snow tonight.

Monday, October 21, 2002

Nearly full when I arrived today, squeezed in between Mark the reporter and a silent older gentleman. Gary was giving one of the girls a hard time because she hadn’t worn her tube top.

My dad would hate this place, with Gary picking fries off customers’ plates, teasing customers in a personal way and the rough talk, but I love it, even when I have no idea what they’re talking about. (Maybe it’s better when I don’t know. That’s my theory anyway.)

Mark looks sharp, losing the hockey jersey he usually wears in favor of a brilliant white dress shirt and tie. I don’t care what anyone says, he’s dressed for a girl, not his job . . . I mean, come on, he’s a reporter! Now whaddya suppose the middle initial E stands for? His last name sounds Irish, so a good Catholic saint name perhaps . . . Edward? Eric? Surely his parents weren’t so unkind as to name him Mark Eustace or Eutropious!

The search is on . . .

Met Stalker4 today. She admitted following Gary home, although she say she didn’t follow him all the way home. We’ll see.

So far Gary is not back together with Stalker3. I think I’ll start a pool to pick how long this breakup will last. Could be fun. I’m beginning to almost think that perhaps this time he’ll stick to his guns. Not there yet.

Next time I hope to tell you more about the diner and about Gary. Maybe I’ll include the link to the page where a guest sadly called him “blatently heterosexual”. Maybe not. I’d still like to be allowed back at the diner.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

I hit the diner after 1, so the lunch rush was over and I could have just a soda. (With 13 seats, an inside seat is reserved for eating customers during peak hours.)

Gary (the owner) was in top form, relaxed, and fun, teasing the customers, who give as good as they get.

“That’s right. I wouldn’t let her get her sticker and candy.” Pretty rough on a little girl, don’t you think? “You mean you made her cry?” Yes. Gary made her cry. But he says the next time she came in he offered to help her finish her food, but she put her fists on her hips and said she’d do it herself. And she did.

Gary’s tough, but he has a huge soft spot for kids.

Mark, a reporter at the local newspaper, complained that he hadn’t had sex in so long he couldn’t remember who got tied up. Gary: “Your sister, man.” Gary has issues with family.

But his family is speaking to him again, after finally realizing that he is a great athlete and has quite a following. Well, duh. Everyone else knew that. Why is your family always the last to know?

And Gary has broken up with his girlfriend (let’s call her Stalker3) again. Stalker3 is taking it well, calling him several times a day, showing up at the diner every morning, and telling him that her kids miss him. Nice touch, using the kids, don’t you think? Not HIS kids, by the way. I kind of wonder how long this breakup will last.

Some men are so dumb when it comes to women.