This morning's breakfast

Working 40 hours takes so much out of me, at my age, not much remains at the end of the day. I still take notes when something interesting happens, or something un-boring, which is often as close to interesting as life gets. It's hard to find time to turn those notes into writing, though, so most of it waits for the weekends.

My goal every Saturday and Sunday is to write write write, getting enough pages ready to publish, or almost ready, that there'll be something worth posting every day the next week. When there's not, you get reprints.

And I need to stay disciplined, all weekend every weekend, or I'll slip further behind. An hour spent reading silliness or watching porn usually becomes two or three hours, which leaves more and more writing unwritten. 

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Breakfast with the family on Saturday mornings gets me even further behind, every weekend. It's an hour and a half of mental idling, often as fascinating as watching dentures soak — listening to Mom's stories I've heard a hundred times already, or details from the latest reality TV shows about enormously fat people, followed by Mom nagging that I need to lose weight or I could be on those shows.

When I get home from breakfast with Mom, I'm in no condition to type, let alone write.

So now there are unwritten stories in my notes from two months ago, or even longer — stories that might be worth reading, if they ever get written. But when will they ever get written?

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Today, instead of writing one of those moldy stories, I'm going to write a fresh one, about this morning's weekly breakfast.

Mom had told me ten times at least, that she and my sister wouldn't be there, because they were going to a memorial service for yet another longtime family friend who's died. That's part of being old — people keep dying. Sometimes the people who die are people I'd thought were already dead.

"And would you like to come to the service?" Mom had asked me in a dozen texts over the past week. I've kept my recent wavering on funerals to myself, so my too-many-times repeated answer still stands: I absolutely won't be there, no matter who dies.

So's anyway, I knew that Mom and Katrina wouldn't be at breakfast, and they're the only regulars, so I hoped nobody else would be there. Nobody'd texted or emailed that they were coming, which is all I ask. "Let me know before you show," I keep saying, but usually someone I hadn't expected joins us.

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When I was unemployed, I was at the diner, alone, 2-3 times a week, but the restaurant's schedule is at odds with my job, so since February the diner's only seen me for Saturday breakfasts with the fam.

And I love the family, but I've missed eating alone at Mrs Rigby's Diner.

Breakfast alone would be such a treat. Let it be. Make it so. I'd packed a good book, hoping to read a few chapters over my plate, hoping it would be the only plate at my table.

I'd already decided to order something off the menu I hadn't had before — the bacon cheeseburger, which promises three strips of bacon, and the cheese is Swiss, and it comes with the diner's marvelous fries, which — if I'm alone — nobody can snatch. And I'll have a milk shake, too. 

And best of all, alone. Yes, make it so.

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Riding the bus toward the bus to the diner — it's a two-bus trip — I thought to check my texts. 

Two fresh messages from Mom reminded me that she wouldn't be at breakfast, and twice more she listed some of my many interactions with her dead friend, and "Won't you please come to the service?" It's a message that deserved no reply, and got none.

My brother Dick had texted several times, telling me about the misery he's in after his surgery a few days ago. I was there for his pre-op at the hospital — one of many better-than-this stories I need to write but haven't yet. I replied with a few jokes I hoped might make him smile and briefly forget his pain, but no jokes are that funny, certainly not mine.

And here's a text from my brother Clay, joining the chorus by telling me I should come to the memorial. He's going, he said. It starts at 10:30 this morning. It's in the church we grew up attending. Everyone would love to see you, Doug. Remember all our Sunday School classes taught by the now-dead family friend? Remember that time he farted loudly during a sermon? On and on, and then the last line of his latest text, "If you'd like to come to the service, there might be a lift available from breakfast."

Reading that, I groaned so loudly that the driver probably thought the bus was having mechanical problems. See, Clay never says anything straight out; everything's oblique, but there's no mistaking that "there might be a lift available from breakfast" meant that he'd be at the diner. I groaned again.

Always gotta add that I love him, and I do, but he's so very Christian that we have little to say to each other. 

Clay would probably bring his wife, Karen — they've been inseparable for 40 years — even though she's recently broken her foot, so she'd be limping and probably in pain. And it's likely they'd bring one or both of their adult sons, and/or their sons' wives and children.

For the rest of my ride to the diner, I rejiggered my expectations, knowing it wouldn't be breakfast alone. At least Clay had let me know he was coming, though. He gets points for that.

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When I arrived at Mrs Rigby's, no-one from my family was there, but that means nothing. Anyone who shows up almost always shows up late. Late is on time, in my family.

I had a brief conversation with one of the diner's regulars, about the new 80-year-old hearse I'd seen him parking in the lot. Traded a few sentences with two of my favorite waitresses. Then it was exactly 9:15, start time for breakfast, and still I was the only Holland in the place.

I visited the men's room to pee, then took a seat alone in a booth, alone. By myself. Only me.

A waitress asked how many would be coming, like they ask every week because everyone comes late.

"Nobody, I hope," I said, "but probably three, maybe as many as eleven." That's if both of Clay and Karen's kids came, and brought their wives and kids, which — who knows? — might be what's happening.

The waitress left three menus, but I didn't need one. Knew what I wanted, and I wasn't waiting. Breakfast is at 9:15, or it's supposed to be, and just this once it would start on time. I ordered my dreamed-of bacon-Swissburger and fries, with a strawberry shake.

And still I sat alone, allowing myself to begin again hoping for what I'd hoped for for a week, to be alone at this table in this diner. No conversations to make, or pretend to listen to. No mentions of Jesus, church, Bible verses, or prayer. No embarrassing history retold, no none-of-your-business questions, no un-asked-for advice. Only good food and the book in my bag.

"Where's your family?" the waitress asked when she came 'round with my shake.

"A funeral," I said. And get this — she didn't ask who'd died, or why I wasn't at the service. Unlike most of my family, the diner's staff understands propriety and avoids prying questions.

"Well, tell them we missed them at breakfast," she said.

"I'll tell them," I said and maybe I will, "but just this once, you'll hear no hemming and hawing and Come back in five minutes please, we'll have decided by then, and there'll be no 'old-people conversations' shouted so loud the other eaters stare."

The waitress laughed, because laughing at lame jokes is part of her job and I always tip well. She reassured me that all the staff loves having my family here every Saturday morning. I am skeptical of that, but appreciated her saying it.

As I waited for my food and then as I ate the first several bites, I kept an eye on the door. Someone would be coming, and I knew it. Clay and Karen first, and then the nephews. Heck, I wouldn't put it past Mom to decide at the last minute to come to breakfast instead of the memorial.

But you know who walked into the diner? The same people who walk in every Saturday, but don't sit at my table. Here's the Hispanic couple with a cute teenage daughter, the two old black ladies who talk about the casino, the old white couple with her in a walker, the Asian-black couple with their Asian and black in-laws, the college couple on a morning-after date, three men who always talk about baseball and football and hockey, the 30-something couple so in love they wordlessly stare at their phones all through their meals, and all the diner's other semi-familiar faces, and a few faces I hadn't noticed before.

Out the window, panhandling in front of the restaurant, was the bum of the block, a guy I've written about before. His pants ride lower every time I see him, and today they were at his knees, showing off what appeared to be brand-new and bright red flannel underwear. Must've been a gift, or procured through shoplifting, and they were much more appealing (the wrong word) than the gray and stained underwear he'd shown everyone last Saturday.

I'd never ordered the diner's bacon-cheeseburger before, because I have awful teeth with big gaps between them, and bacon fat always gets stubbornly stuck in there, and anyway, restaurants rarely get the bacon exactly as crisp as I want it but not too crisp.

Well, of course, Mrs Rigby's bacon-cheese was ecstasy, with exactly the right amount of perfectly crisp bacon and zero gristle, every bite clean and delicious. Plus world-class fries, and a shake made with real milk and real strawberries.

I left twice my usual tip, so it wasn't a cheap lunch for breakfast, but you know what it was? Breakfast alone, and it was tremendous.



  1. Claude "I'll Be There At 9:15" ReignsMay 13, 2023 at 5:05 PM

    You need a back-up diner.

    Then, the next week when your mom asks where you were, you can ask her where she was, since you were at the diner.

  2. What kind of porn do you like to watch?

    1. That sounds like a question his mother would ask at breakfast

    2. Well, that's an interesting question, or at least, I'm interested. It would be a long answer, though, article-length, so maybe I'll write it as a full-fledged post. I lack the energy for lengthy writing tonight, though. Sorry. I'd be almost as interested in your answers, so feel free to discuss it amongst yourselves.

    3. The backup diner is a good idea, yer right.

      I've given thumbs ups to a few other places, but none of them have the late hours I need and want.

      Please, Seattle, give me a diner with an affordable omelet or a sit-down cheeseburger at 7:00 at night, fer my belly's sake. So far as I know, it's only Denny's, and I ain't doing that.

  3. I have to switch up every little while, otherwise the stuff gets stale. For a while, I liked watched the granny stuff, it was so funny to see the old broads get into it, or if they were faking it, they faked it way better than the younger females. Lately I have been enjoying the femboy stuff, they look way nicer than biological females or whatever the current proper term is. I'll be looking forward to reading about your porn preferences.

    1. I like Cleveland Steamers with deep fake faces of politician's wives, early Ed Powers "gonzo" porn, and YouTube videos of Mexican weather girls extraordinary succulent rear shelfs.

    2. I think the Steamers really have a shot this year. Young Evans at QB injured a hot dog salesman with one of his passes. Good velocity, bad aim, but the boy is learning. And Big Boy Tillis at the WR position caught the turf on fire while he was running downfield for an errant pass. Looks like they're going to have to go back to real grass, which has inherent fire suppression characteristics.

      Yup, sure looks like 2023 could be the year of the Steamer. At least that's MY pigskin pick.


    3. It's a Steamers dynasty. 2020 was the Steamers' year, and 2021, 22, probably 23...

      To me, every team in the NFL is the Steamers.


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