Monday, October 29, 2018

Monday 31 August 1998

I kind of trailed off there two weeks ago—down the long trail, looking back, the trail back, the last two weeks, a lot has happened, and I haven't been able to finish that last sentence. That sentence is a lost cause, but maybe I can finish the thought. I guess what I was getting at is that it's the most amazing thing I've ever experienced, that there could be a perfect (interior-wise) 1940s diner in my home town, hidden from me for 38 years! I mean, it had the dining car manufacturer company plate over the inside door, it had the old Formica-top counter with boomerang designs and smooth white crescents worn in from decades of forearms resting on it. There it was, all along, and I never saw it, simply because I didn't go in the door. So what is so great about this discovery—it's not that I'm going to move back to Sandusky, because that would surely be the cosmic force to make the place close—no, what's great is that now I have reason to have hope, here in Portland, Maine, a place with a real drought of breakfast spots—at least in my experience here this far—I have hope that I might uncover the hidden secret greatest place ever—behind the facade of something I've passed by a million times even.

But it won't be here, at the New Crystal, another downtown, uninspired, overpriced, cafeteria-style, no-personality place—a place that only exists because it can, because so many people work nearby, have few choices, and don't like to walk more than two blocks. There's a guy in a booth next to me who's just chain-smoking at an alarming rate—I guess not that amazing—the cigarette just never goes out. I didn't actually notice if he lights one cigarette off the last one. Which, if you think about it, is an incredible practice, but he's had cigarettes going the entire time I've been here—like a half hour. He's an old 90 pound bald tan grizzled guy who laughs like his lungs are full of water, and his general appearance is really that of a human cigarette. I mean, this guy has actually turned into a cigarette!

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