I'm at the Polar King in Gresham, just outside of Portland. You don't have to get too far out of Portland to be “out of town.” There are little buildups of civilization by the side of the highway, but I don't know if you'd call it a town, unless you consider a strip mall a downtown. It's amazing how driving for a few minutes takes you to a cultural another world. It's all Middle-America—everywhere that's not the very urbanist urban. And in Portland it's just a few block area—you can walk it—and outside that little oasis where they're challenged to make good coffee, and the waitstaff can get away with unusual body piercings, you get to Middle-America—bad coffee, bad grammar, non-dairy creamer, TV culture. This is a great place—an old, probably post-war diner or hamburger joint, fixed up probably in the 80s—ruined, really, but time has done its job and put some personality back into it, with its forces of decay and the mellowness that comes from day in and out use. To everyone here it's just a restaurant, but to me it's an interesting artwork, one that changes with time, and even though it was once almost a (DQ or something?) (after the remodel)—now it's interesting again.
Like I was saying, back when I was trying to recover, and backpedal (does the word “backpedal” come from the bicycle world?—certainly it must not—as you can't backpedal a bicycle—with ten speeds, or whatever they are now—28 speeds—you can pedal backwards, but the gears are not engaged unless it's forward—you can't ride backwards anyway—maybe it's just “ped” as in walk—pedaling meaning walking, then, and backpedaling meaning retreating—look this up).
Places like this, as much as I like them, freak me out because they have all women working at them (unless there is a man owner present). Only women working, and all men customers. I mean, totally only 100% men in here. This is total, without exception. All women working. All men customers. I must admit, that kind of freaks me out.
As I'm leaving I see a big family with a couple of young women and one older one—so it's not absolutely true. And then I see the oddest thing of all (this place is quite busy). There's a woman leaving, paying at the register (she was here, somewhere, the same time I was)—a woman by herself! A middle-aged woman who looks neither to be a mess or all completely together. Someone who may be an alcoholic, or maybe a recovering alcoholic. Definitely not one of those scary perfect businesswomen from Mars. But someone who looks really self-sufficient, independent, I don't know, pretty together, but not too much, you know. I mean, her just being here, at a place where like no women come in, for breakfast, anyway, especially by themselves—that makes her essentially—I mean she was just a human being on Planet Pod, and for that reason I would have really liked to talk to her, but until I get to the interview portion of this project (which I just made up just now) I won't be able to do anything like that—and I need some kind of journalistic credibility to do that—more than just a fake press card—I need a good reputation.