thick and hot as a swamp by 8 a.m. as i walked a
mile or two of errands. sought refuge at this classic diner, of a type
unknown in seattle and even here a vanishing breed. in my
younger years, we took diners for granted.
they were just where you landed after a long night
out to fortify yourself with greasy food and one
last drink. everyone here at the Melrose looked like a regular,
and i was hoping to be pulled into conversation, but
i didn't want to be pushy, so i ended up eating my runny
eggs and underdone hashbrowns in silence,
content. halfway through, a
natty gent sat down one stool over and the
waitress guessed his order. instead of cordial
thanks, he grew suspicious: "how'd you know that?"
"it's what you got last time." when his food came,
he got surly: "can i have a knife and fork--if it
isn't too much trouble?" she apologized,
brought a napkin-wrapped bundle immediately. he
tried to draw me into this apparent conspiracy--"the
games they play." (the server was asian.)
"seems like an honest mistake," i countered (ha ha).
he gave me a look and chuckled bitterly, off and on
for minutes after, as if pitying my naivete. i put
my earbuds in. some conversations just aren't worth