There is something about a diner that brings out the most personal of conversations.
For me, this always happens at breakfast. The smells… bacon frying, hash brown potatoes, fresh coffee brewing, rye bread toasting; the sounds…patrons coming and going, the busiest of cash registers, the clank of cups and dishes; the sights..the bright decor, the silver shine, the wait staff running madly about. All of the senses are engaged.
And somehow, the secrets come out.
I live in an area of eastern Pennsylvania where the diner has survived the onslaught of those franchised restaurant chains. Meeting friends for breakfast is still a treat for me. We come for the eggs, stay for the conversation, lingering for longer than we may be welcome.
The superficial topics arrive first. They are usually dispelled in the first 20 minutes.
Then, the good stuff comes. The stuff that takes your friendship to a different level. If you’re a good friend of mine, we’ve shared a diner breakfast.
It works for family relationships as well. The first time I ever spoke out loud about troubled childhood relationships and abuse was to my stepmother, long after my Dad had passed, and in a diner. She confided that she had always suspected.
One of my favorite stories involved my Dad, in the months following my mother’s death. We were at the “pink” diner shown above, at the counter, where he took up a conversation with an older waitress that he knew. No big deal…this was a small town and he seemed to know everyone.
After a brief chat, she went into the kitchen. He looked at me and said…”You see that woman ? She was the first I ever slept with”.
He went on to say that he was a teenager, had recently enlisted in the army, and was scheduled to leave for boot camp when they were introduced by friends.
By this point, I was choking a bit on my rye toast, mainly believing that he forgot for a moment that I was his daughter and this info might be inappropriate.
He misread my discomfort, paused to react, and said “oh, but she was much better looking back then!”