Tag Archives: diners

I’ll have what she’s having…


Nostalgia is a funny thing. It’s not rational–the things for which we become nostalgic.  Wikipedia sums up, “The term…describes a longing for the past, often in idealized form.”  Idealized form.  That makes sense.  That explains why I get nostalgic so often–I’m quite idealistic.  Take that diner there.  I only went there once.  The service wasn’t great.  I ordered a omellete and it ended up coming with both cheese and shell inside.  And not just a little bit of shell–two eggs worth of shell. It has since closed, which isn’t a huge surprise– But still I’m nostalgic for it.  I’m nostalgic for the person I went there with, the neighborhood surrounding it, and the person I was.

I tend to think that all diners should remain open regardless of their quality or their chances to pass a health inspection.  I would rather eat at a crappy diner, in a booth with a torn cushion, served by a waitress missing most of her teeth, where I will be forced to pick dried-on food out of the tines of my fork and pull a long hair out of my ice water, than eat at a chain, fast-food, or upscale restaurant.  Diners have character.  Diners are America!  Diners are pulling a double and drinking burnt coffee to get through it.  Diners are truck drivers who haven’t had a homecooked meal in months.  They’re laminated menus from which you can order breakfast at midnight just as easily as noon.  They’re miniature jukeboxes on each table.  They’re plastic cups, swivel stools, and rotating cake displays.  Diners are Keri Russell’s Waitress character declaring, “I don’t want you to save me. I don’t need to be saved.”  They’re Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally faking an orgasm.  They’re no frills.  Their doors are open, their floors are dirty, and their grills are on.

In short, diners are good.



Don’t you love eating in diners?  For me, it ranks right up there with watching Barbara Walters receive a lap dance.  My roommate took me out to one in our neighborhood tonight.  Along with our food, though, we unwillingly consumed an hour’s worth of Pastor Arnold Murray’s Family Bible Study.  Of all the things to blare on a flatscreen television in a New York City diner…The Shepherd’s Chapel from Gravette, Arkansas?  I kind of felt like God was trying to send me a message, especially after I posted my blasphemous Ash Wednesday poem…a casual “shape up or ship out (to the depths of hell)” kind of thing. 

But honestly I’ve become more of a Buddhist lately, so I think I’ll be all right.  I haven’t begun meditating or practicing yoga or pilgriming anywhere, yet, but it’s on the to-do list (right after #11: Be Serenaded, Preferably to the Stylings of This, This, or if nothing else, This).  

At one point Pastor Arnold Murray started going off on, not surprisingly, liberals (though he prefers the term “nutcases”).  I enjoyed the way the word rolled off his Arkansas tongue.  He said the problem with liberals (among other things) is they spend too much time listening to college professors…which I tend to think is the antithesis of a problem. 

There was a speaker directly above our booth, so it really felt like he was right there with us.  In case you’ve never seen Pastor Arnold (despite his Bible study being televised on 225 stations in the US and Canada):

“Life without discipline is not much fun,” indeed.

A Friday Night with Joan Crawford and Big, Burly Greek Men

Joan Crawford is so hot!

Friday night I went on a dinner and a movie date with myself.  It wasn’t an official date because really I was just trying to do something productive before I had to go to work.  And that’s not romantic.  But official or not, it was a very good date.  It started at the Museum of Modern Art where Friday evenings are free and so are the film screenings.  It’s pretty much the perfect activity for money strapped lovers…money strapped haters, too.

In conjunction with this cool exhibit of hand-painted film posters by Batiste Madalena, MoMA is showing some of the silent films advertised in the work he did for the George Eastman Theatre in Rochester, NY between 1924-1928.  Turns out, silent films are AMAZING.  Watching them has been on my to-do list for awhile (I keep seeing City Lights at the library and I keep not bringing Charlie home with me).  Anyway, Friday I saw 1927’s The Unknown with Joan Crawford and Lon Charney.  I could go on and on about how ridiculous the story is, but this pretty much sums it up:

A wanted man binds his arms and takes on the identity of an armless, knife-throwing carnival freak. After killing the father of the woman he admires in order to protect his secret, and then having his own arms amputated to prove his love for her, he discovers that she is engaged to the carnival’s strongman.

I couldn’t believe how beautiful Joan Crawford was!!  The only other film I’ve seen her in so far is 1954’s Johnny Guitar.  So I was expecting a younger version of this:



I highly recommend these film screenings at MoMA if you’re around Manhattan.  They fill up with a fun mix of people.  The intellectuals, the snooty Upper East Siders, the trendy Brooklynites, the college students attending purely to meet a course requirement, people like me (?), and of course, the token bag lady. 

The token bag lady was a source of great entertainment before the film began.  She sat on an aisle seat and she had a terrible cold.  It literally sounded as though her lung was about to find its way into her lap.  And when she wasn’t hacking, she was blowing her noise with the gusto of a bugle player waking up a summer camp.  She really wasn’t bothering me (not much bothers me), but the rest of the audience?  Oh boy, it was on.  A man in front of her turned around and muttered something.  I wish I could hear what he said.  He was pissed off.  Maybe because she smelled like piss?  I don’t know.  Then there was a middle aged woman a row or two in front of me who just kept looking around in aghast bewilderment and saying things like, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  This roughly translates to: “I paid absolutely nothing to be here, and that woman has just as much a right to be here as I do, but I have a huge sense of entitlement and the bitchy scowl to prove it.” 

In the end, as soon as the silent film started, the maybe bag lady was equally silent.  So all that huffing and puffing by certain audience members was in vain. The bag lady proved herself more dignified than the stylish, attitudey man who wore out his VHS of Mommie Dearest and has since upgraded to the blu-ray version.

After the film screening, I walked down to one of my favorite Midtown diners. I love diners in New York–they’re all run by big, boisterous Greek families. I sat at the bar where the creepy Greek cousin with the chain and the chest hair and the slick hair chatted me up. And the Greek grandfather sat next to me eating a slice of pound cake and drinking coffee while occasionally smiling and nodding at me. Not sure how I gained his approval, but it was nice.

I also saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop this weekend.  To take in that bit of culture I had company.  As much as I like going to movies by myself…Kevin James is where I draw the line.

Oh, and I couldn’t fall asleep last night, but I didn’t want to get up and turn on my computer to blog, so instead I wrote down a couple notes, and I think they make a rather nice poem:

silent movie, diner dinner date.
joan crawford, sneezing bag lady.
humanity? no arms.