Bath time, breakfast, blogging and getting dressed happened before we knew it and soon we were walking downtown for lunch at our little diner. The lunch special today was tuna melt and bean ham soup for $5.00. We’ve learned if the special sounds good - order it, you’ll get it sooner than anything else because the big guy in the back dressed in all white is ready to cook it and fast. The soup came immediately along with an extra mismatched bowl ready for Ella’s portion of soup and an ice cube. All the dishes there are mismatched, after the last fire they just didn’t have the heart to buy another set and so it seems they picked up what they could and took donations filling in the rest leaving every table looking like some wild country jazz classical fusion of pottery, glass and china.
I looked around the little eatery to see the same sort of mix happening, an old retired gal with the standard old lady perm and reading glasses checking out the local weekly paper, her nylon socks pulled just up to her knees beginning at the hem of her flowered polyester skirt and ending inside her orthopedic shoes, she smile and waved at Ella when we walked in, I’m sure she knows who I am yet I couldn’t match a name with her and it really doesn’t matter, we smile and wave at everyone here. Her paper thin skin showed a bruise on the forearm; no doubt a recently removed IV caused it. She sat nearest the window to witness every event on Main Street no matter how insignificant, it would be talked about later at coffee clutch, she would say “I saw that Danny’s wife today with their little girl in the diner, good looking baby but her mother, she had a hole in the knee of her jeans, shame people don’t know how to sew a patch anymore…”
To my left towards the back was the typical working guy, you can imagine his name was Mac or Henry, he had a baseball cap with the name of a fertilizer embroidered on the front, the bill was curved perfectly to frame his forehead and was even a little frayed, clean but frayed it could’ve been a archetype for the ones they are selling at Abercrombie & Fitch except those Abercrombie kids would never do half the work Mac had done to get his hat like that. He wore a cotton work shirt, the grey kind with a patch over the pocket I couldn’t see, the sleeves rolled up past his elbows and tucked into a pair of jeans held up by a veritable utility belt. On it was a tape measure, a cell phone, a buck knife (none of that sissy Swiss Army crap) and a hook for an absent hammer under that belt hanging half way out of a back pocket a red handkerchief and of course well broken in leather work boots. His face had stubble and wrinkles and a smile for our waitress who brought him heaps of beef, potatoes, apple pie and coffee. What I watched Mac eat for lunch I think I could’ve served my whole family for dinner, but he wasn’t fat – not Mac, you knew he would work all that off this afternoon doing whatever it was he did.
We were the last part of the mix we were neither country nor classical, neither pottery nor china… we were the jazz, we were glass; so completely new and strange to the ol’ diner but still wholly appropriate. We were both dressed in blue jeans, sandals, red t-shirts and sunglasses. I carried a little brown messenger bag filled with $10.00, a diaper, a sippy cup, my cell phone, my digital camera, a pencil, and the crossword. We ambled in ate our soup, the best tuna melt in all of Northern Illinois, some peach slices and pickles in that order. We paid for our $5.00 special and left a $2.00 tip on the table waved and smiled at the old lady again on the way out and made our way to the park by the river to try and work off our lunch on the merry-go-round.