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In Here We Are All Family

Posted by on in Asylum
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diner1Everyone loves a diner. A small local place with good food, cheap prices, fast service and that comfortable, homey feeling you get when you walk in the door.

Despite the warnings described by a recent AARP article I still enjoy eating out. Well, I did until yesterday.

My favorite diner is a comely, little place located at a small municipal airport. You can sit and have your breakfast or lunch while watching the airplanes come and go.

The place is quaint. Despite the fact that the furniture is mismatched and the dishes are bit old, it is clean and bright.

fitchburgdinerThe kitchen is located directly behind a lunch counter where a few solitary customers can sit and chat with the staff while their food is being prepared.

Our waitress takes our order and scurries off to get us our drinks. My mismatched chair doesn’t quite slide easily under the table so I reach down and grab the seat to pull myself in a little closer. That’s when I feel it – a big old wad of gum stuck to the bottom and I just touched it.

Dear God where is my Purell when I need it? I convince myself everything is fine. It is old. The germs are long gone.

gum-maintenence-300x213I put some water on my napkin and wipe my hand.

I vow to eat my sandwich using only one hand – the clean one.

I am managing fairly well with the one handed eating and focusing on my lunch companion when the cook calls the waitress over by saying she needs some “mature” advice.

Now, our waitress, I will call her Shirley, is an older woman. The pot washer jokes that the cook is making fun of Shirley’s age by saying she needs “mature” advice. The cook, who is probably around the age of 30, assures them that she is not – she needs real advice.

“All right, what is it that I can help you with then” laughs Shirley?

Now, I know, I should tune out. Some warning flag in my body says you really do not want to hear this.

Our table is only a few feet from the kitchen area. I cannot help but hear.

The cook says to Shirley, I have a problem with my mother in-law. She lives with us you know?

Shirley replies that she did not know this but what is the problem?

She smells replies the cook. She refuses to bathe.

“How old is she”, asks Shirley?

“I dunno like 80”, replies the cook.

“And she never showers”.

“No, she doesn’t believe in it. How do I tell her she stinks”?

“That’s hard”, says Shirley “have your husband do it”.

“Oh God if he does it we will be in a major fight”.

“Well, how bad is it”?

“It’s bad”.

“How bad”?

Tune out, tune out, tune out I tell myself. Focus on your sandwich. Drink your water.

cat looking at can of tuna“Well replies the cook she smells like a cross between cat piss and old tuna fish”.

My lunch companion leans over and asks me what did she say?

Please don’t make me repeat it. I just want to finish my lunch and leave.

“That’s pretty bad”, says Shirley. “Yea you have to say something. Just say it nicely”.

“Well what do I say? Hey Mom you smell like cat piss and tuna fish”?

What did she say asks my lunch companion?

I will tell you in the car. Let’s just finish and get out of here.

The conversation continued throughout the rest of our lunch.

Never once did anyone even stop to think how inappropriate, not to mention, distasteful the topic was.

I shot Shirley the evil eye at one point but all she did was refill my water.

The cook herself brought us the check.

How was everything, she asks?

I hold her gaze and don’t reply for a few beats.

Then I say, you might want to take the Tuna Melt off the menu.

Oh really? Why, was it not good?

Just unappetizing I reply.

As we leave I hear her say to Shirley. Didn’t they both have burgers?

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