Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Overheard: Sunday breakfast

Late on a Sunday morning in May. A corner diner nestled in the crook of one of Chicago's many six-way intersections.

"Are you going to make up your mind, asshole?" Rodney asks his friend. They're sitting at the triangular bar in the middle of the restaurant. "What are you going to have? What are you going to order? Do you know yet?"

The waitress arrives.
"An Americano, please," the friend says.
"Americano," she confirms. "And you?"
"Uh, gimme a diet Coke," Rodney says.
"Know what you guys want to eat yet?"
"Sure. Are you ready?" the friend asks Rodney.
"No. I need more time. Do I want breakfast? Or do I want lunch? I can't decide."

Rodney scratches his head. He's a young-ish, fair-skinned guy, maybe early-3os, but his hair, sideburns and stubble are grizzled. There's a tattoo of an evil cartoon rabbit on his left forearm, swathed in orange flames. The rabbit is holding a pair of red dice.

"What are you going to get, jackass?" Rodney asks his friend. "Want some pancakes? Some pe-can pan-cakes? With some Georgia pe-cans? You're a Southern boy, so you probably want some pe-cans. What do you think of this place? Okay for a diner, right?"

The waitress is back.
"I'll have the pancakes, please," the friend says. "With some pecans on top, if you can."
"Pancakes, got it. And you?"
"Pulled-pork sammich!" Rodney says. "Pulled-pork sammich!"
"Okay, pulled pork. What kind of side?"
"Pulled-pork sammich!"
"Tots, sweet-potato fries, regular fries?"
"Oh. Um, fries. Regular. Pulled-pork sammich! Oh, and a cup of the chicken soup. And pull out two pieces of pie and set them aside. Do you want pie?"
"Yeah, I want pie," the friend replies.

The waitress sets their food on the counter. Rodney sucks the soup off his spoon.
"Oh, there's wild long-grain rice in this. That wasn't in the description. They should advertise that. It's a selling point. They'd sell more. Stupid white people think it's healthier. Well, it is healthy."
He sets the top half of the bun on his unused coffee cup.
"I hate buns. What should I do with it? I could use it as a hat. Like a bun-yarmulke."

The waitress refills their drinks.
"I'm feeling weird today," Rodney is saying to his friend. "Like, kind and generous and positive toward the world. I'm usually an asshole. I remember when I was in kindergarten, and I got beat up by some first-graders. They were girls. Her name was Melissa Monroe, and she had a box of fancy crayons and a sharpener. She'd make fun of me for having the simple crayons. She had silver-copper and gold-coper and Ferrari red. Who needs yellow-green and green-yellow?"
He looks down at his plate.
"I think I have that psychological disorder where I can't have my foods touching each other. I would freak out. Except corn, gravy and potatoes. You just have to moosh all that together. You know, I don't even like Irish people, but I still like potatoes."
"What about eggs, bacon and hashbrowns?" the friend asks.
"Well, yeah, that's a given."

The waitress brings the pie. She clears the used plates with the forks still on them.
Rodney and his friend look at their dessert, wondering what to do.
"Damn!" says Rodney. "It's like that Greek myth where the guy was neck-deep in water but couldn't drink. What was his name? Damocles? No, of course not. Why did I say that? Oh, because I said damn."
He laughed at his joke. The waitress dropped off their check before bustling off to help another customer.
"I was laughing and forgot to say 'fork.' But the last time I said that, someone said, 'Fork me? Well, screw you, too!'"
"Was it Sisyphus? The guy in the myth?" the friend asks, getting out his smartphone.
"I don't care what diseases he had; I just want his name!" Rodney quips. "Sisyphus? Syphilis? Come on, that was funny!"

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