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Updated: 03/03/02

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Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
(White Oleander is on pause)



Sunday, 3 March, 2002

No, really, I wanted to spend yesterday telling you about my morning in the diner. But since I got all caught up in deep philosophical issues, I just ran out of space.

Well, no, as Mom pointed out, I don't have space limits. I just figured it would frighten you all silly and you'd flee into the ethernet if I tried to somehow segue from Global Impact of the Worldwide Web to breakfast in Old City. So today we'll just start with the ridiculous and work our way towards sublime.

There is a marvelous looking diner on Spring Garden called Silk City Diner. It's about four blocks from THE HOUSE and I've eaten there a couple of times. The food is fine and it is a good looking restaurant, but it's missing that certain something.

Here is what it's missing:

"Sit down wherever you like, hon."
"Double order grits, and two eggs over-medium."
"Melinda, your order's in the window, babe."
"How's that cinnamon bun doing?"
"Butter on your toast, honey?"
"Mary, the coffee's real good today."

Snow White Diner, corner of Second and Market. Been there forever, as has the woodgrain veneer on the cabinets, the scalloped formica countertop and the faded prints of scenes from American Revolution hung on the walls. I walked in yesterday morning, hung up my coat and found a seat at the counter. Before I even sat down, a cup of coffee was in front of me, a bit splashed into the saucer.

"Bacon and cheese omelette, baby?," Mary asked as she scribbled on her order pad. I nodded and added, "No potatoes, no toast."

She turned and called the order through the pass-through window into the kitchen, "Bacon and cheese omelette, no potatoes." Jimmy, one of the cooks, called out, "And no toast."

"You don't have nothin' to do with my toast," she sassed back. Jimmy looked through the window, grinning, and waved at me.

The omelette appeared a few minutes later - no garnish, no frills, huge, perfectly cooked, on a plate that has probably lived in Philly as long as I have. As I ate, Mary cruised past and plunked a small plastic glass of ice water on the counter. John, one of the other cooks, gave a soft wolf whistle to the elderly lady sitting further down the counter. She blushed and shooed him off with her hand, laughing.

My omelette and coffee (with one refill) cost $7.01. I know I can make this at home [with better coffee] for less, but that's not the point. I go to the diner to eat, read the paper, do the crossword and listen to the exchanges between the employees and the customers. It is food, entertainment and a special social activity that city dwellers experience. When you live in the suburbs and drive everywhere, restaurants are not the neighborhood anchors that they are in town. Sitting at a counter is a very different experience than sitting at a table. There is much more interaction with people, and an opportunity to enjoy the experience of being in a place instead of just enjoying the food. And for under ten dollars, there is quite an entertaining floor show.

[For less than half the cost of the Philadelphia Flower Show.]

~ ~ ~

Quote du jour:

"A wise diner who is invited
to visit the kitchen replies by saying,
as politely as possible,
that he has a pressing engagement"

-- Calvin Trillin (1935 - ____)

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