Diner Diaries

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

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.