Tuesday, December 10, 2013

About the picture

That’s a new photograph in the sidebar. Elaine took it a couple of weeks ago in New Jersey. I think it might be the nicest picture anyone has ever taken of me (baby pictures excluded). If you’re reading this post in a reader, you’ll just have to click on through to see it.

I wish I could say something good about the diner that surrounded me. Alas. Not long after getting our coffee, I noticed an employee at the counter dislodging jelly from a spoon with a bare finger. I thought he might have been fixing himself some crackers. When he shifted position, I saw that he was filling paper cups with jelly for customer use. And then an employee behind the counter coughed into a bare hand and began cutting a cantaloupe. And what a coincidence: at that very moment we got a mysterious message, so deeply mysterious that my phone remained silent all the while. The message said to get the hell out of that diner. So we paid for our coffee and left a dollar on our table. Good riddance.

I am reluctant to name this establishment. I will just say that it’s in northern New Jersey, though its name might make you think otherwise. Jerseyan or Jerseyite, take warning.

comments: 6

Stefan said...

I'm slow to comment, but that's a really nice photo, Michael. Sorry about the diner, though. Your description makes me think of Tom Waits and his banter ahead of "Eggs and Sausage (in a Cadillac with Susan Michelson)" about how the veal cutlet walks across the plate to beat up his coffee and the coffee's too weak to defend itself. I guess it's a truism that bad diners make great songs. So maybe if you have some spare time during the holiday break?

Adair said...

Great photo!

That diner, from what you describe, might easily be the one across the street from us. There's one waiter who blows his nose into his bare hands, wipes them on his trousers, then handles food. What can I tell ya? Welcome to New Jersey.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, gentlemen. All credit to the photographer.

Stefan, I haven’t thought of that monologue in a long time. But the next time we’re in Los Angeles, I’m going to see about going to Norms (no apostrophe). The Copper Penny, as I just found out, is long gone.

Adair, I remember years ago a waitress picking up the paper cup of cole slaw that had fallen to the floor, placing it on the table, and explaining that it had landed right side up. We were all teenagers and too stunned (or timid?) to say anything, but we chipped in and left a dime for her tip.

Diane Schirf said...

When I was young (very young - possibly 10 to 12), we made something (some kind of typical salad thing) for me to take to a church picnic. Unbeknownst to my mother, I accidentally spilled it on the kitchen floor just before my ride came, so I crammed it back into the dish, covered it, took it to the picnic, waited until everyone had partaken and praised it effusively (it was good) and told my "isn't this funny?" story about the spill. I can't remember how people reacted, but when I got home and told my mother, she was mortified and probably wanted to kill me. Fortunately she had no interest in church and didn't have to hide from them. :) But I'm sure she really didn't want to be associated with me after that. As for me, I thought it would be more embarrassing not to show up with what I promised!

Berit said...

I live in North Jersey, though I've not seen this diner. I both do and do not want to go. Wildly curious.

My memory tells me that you are a former native of the region yourself, so you likely do not need any food tips, but The Elysian Cafe in Hoboken has a really excellent Grilled Chicken Sandwich. (And their brunch in general). I can't think of a more boring dish by title, but Oh! The Wonderful Bacon! (I don't even like bacon by default.) The Herbed Mayo! Avocado, leaf lettuce, and tomatoes which seem sliced-to-order. Have it with salad if shaved fennel sounds tasty to you.

Parking can be a bear, but they sell 3-hour validations to a local garage for $5, which IMO is worth it and beats the default $30 rate by a long-shot.

Michael Leddy said...

Diane, your trust that others would see the humor in the situation is endearing.

Berit, you do not want to go to this dinner. And thanks for the Hoboken tip. I haven’t been down there in years. Here’s one I can share: Empire Hunan in Teaneck. Excellent food and cheap (at least the lunch menu is).