A Bro’s Salute to Diners

by 4 years ago

Gentleman and gentleman, a few words about the diner.

Yes, the South has its BBQ joints, the West Coast-it’s taco stands, but no late-night food establishment symbolizes American values greater than the Greek-owned greasy spoons that speckle the East (I think there are like bunch in Chicago and a couple around Philly and Maryland). They represent prosperity, a profitable business to countless immigrant families. Diners stand for equality; crotchety seniors, worn-out workers and of course, blacked-out youth can all be found settling into those plush booths. Finally, diners represent freedom- you can order whatever you want, whenever you want, at a price that makes Uncle Sam give a bald eagle the double-nod.

Like Kobe beef of the Hyogo Prefecture, the term “diner” may only be applied to a specific type of eatery, not that truck-stop Guy Fieri bullshit. First, the menus must be large in both physical and gastronomical proportions (more on that shortly). The design of the restaurant must be gaudily garish, adorned in Formica, neon, and stainless steel. Finally, if you are not assisted by at least one wooly man dripping with all gold everything, do not dare invoke the designation of “diner”. You’re simply at a coffee shop.  Extra points for giant desserts in revolving display cases and tableside jukeboxes that never work.

Part of the appeal of diners is that they make no sense on several fronts. That’s a microcosm of 'Merica, we play by our own rules. Let’s revisit the menu selection: HOW THE FUCK IS IT POSSIBLE TO OFFER SPANOKOPITA, EGGS BENEDICT, AND FUCKING LOBSTER 24 HOURS A DAY?! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN THAT KITCHEN? I’ll never know, I don’t want to know. My local diner served Rocky Mountain Brook Trout. I always ordered either French toast or a cheeseburger, but every time I opened that textbook-sized menu, I couldn’t help but check if they were still serving that damn fish. I don’t even know what Rocky Mountain Brook Trout is, but there it was, nestled on page 12, right between the tuna melt and Mussels Marinara. Another weird thing is about diners is that most of them have a little bar stocked with ancient, off-brand liquor. WHO IS DRINKING AT THE FUCKING DINER? Probably the same guy who orders the Rocky Mountain Brook Trout. You go to the diner while wasted, or the morning after being wasted, yet there is 70s-era paper menu offering up Tom Collins and Gin Fizz. Finally, the most mystifying thing to me about diners is the near uniformity. Diners aren’t chains, yet they maintain a McDonald’s-like consistency from the ingredients used to the server’s uniform. It doesn’t matter if it’s Wildwood or Hampton Bays; same steak fries, same black polyester vest. I imagine that all the diner owners meet at a New Day Co-Op–style conference, copping wholesale product off a diner kingpin. I like to call him Dino Dinopolis.

Finally, diners are a powerful source of nostalgia. In high school, they served as a refuge when the cops broke up a house party. Sometimes, the festivities continued there. Handjobs in the parking lot, the occasional brawl-You don’t know pain until you take a Smuckers packet to the retina.  The love of the diner remains imbued among the masses as a beacon with bacon. Who here hasn’t retreated to cheese fries and a milkshake after a long night of striking out? All that no pussy getting works up an appetite, and nothing primes a beat-off session better than a 60-year-old waitress on a 12-hour shift, serving up cheap eats. 

So let us bow our heads and punish our digestive systems. Long live the diner, the last bastion of American spirit.

That wraps it up for me. Think this was on point? Are you a Mid-Westerner who thinks I gave you the shaft? Tough shit, go eat a cheese-dipped fried butter stick at your state fair. Are you an executive at Gillette who wants to reward my brand loyalty? Thanks bro! Hit me with your thoughts in the Comments section!!

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