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.