Thursday, October 23, 2008

And how, exactly, do we get from point A to point B and are they serving drinks?

Today I was thinking about one of the last times I was at my favorite Baltimore diner. There's a lot of quirkiness in Baltimore, and Papermoon Diner is sort of the epitome of the city, if, you know, you're not talking about some of the other things Baltimore is known for, such as its gun problem, but hello, I live in Philadelphia, and if you want to talk about gun problems I'm afraid the only problem we have is too many adorable puppies roaming the streets and licking people you've come to the right place.

At Papermoon, hairless Barbie dolls hang from the ceiling. Hundreds of matchcars line the walls. Body-less doll heads peer at your from countertops. Color explodes from the walls. Every piece of furniture is different, and most look like they were taken from the essential 1962 American kitchen. There is a toilet on the front lawn and tub with claws sprouting flowers on the multi-colored wooden porch.

And the waitstaff is as unique as the environment. Most look like the stereotypical art student/auto mechanic/drag queen karaoke host. The cook behind the counter is inexplicably fascinating and concurrently terrifying in his white t-shirt, cigarette packed rolled in his sleeve.

There is something to look at everywhere you turn, something new to discover every time you return. There is no doubt a number of grown man that have left terrified, choking back sobs for fear of attracting the attention of the cook, only to return to the safety of their Dodge Tauruses to complain about the damn hippies/hipsters/art freaks/scary arse man with the cleaver in that tricked out place.

But that time, one of the last times I was there, B and I had just been seated when I noticed the young couple at the table next to us. They were hunched over the table, sonogram images spread before them, talking excitedly, oozing with excitement, dripping with happiness.

The woman reached for her phone and called her mother excitedly while the man continued to study the blurry figure nestled snuggly in the black and white image, unable to suppress his smile. When their food came, the woman swept the pictures from the table and tucked them into her purse. She thanked the waitress as the plates were placed on the table, her left hand resting softly on her round stomach, the diamond from her ring glistening.

The waitress turned to our table, handed us our menus. As our hands both clutched the menu for a split second, passing from her hand to mine, a wave of shock briefly passed through me when I saw the bandage tied tightly around her right wrist.

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