Saturday, November 10, 2007


Well I'm back from San Francisco in what qualifies as a whirlwind trip. I won't bore you with the detail of my work there, as I will save that for the academic blog, perhaps, so I will excite you with the details of how I seem to have lost all ability to read contextual clues from everyday situations. In other words: I was the absent-minded professor this weekend.

This morning I walked into the Olympic Diner across from my hotel and stood at the threshold like I assumed a good patron should and waited to be seated. The waitress, no doubt the grand daughter of the Greek-born cook manning the grill, looked at me quizicaly several times. She came towards me and said something which I didn't quite make out (perhaps my hearing is going) and then walked back towards the counter. I followed her, being a well-trained patron. She turned on me then and motioned wildly to the rest of the diner. I then realized this was a sit-anywhere-you-like establishment.

"Should I sit where I like?" I asked the obvious.

"Of course!" she said exasperatedly and waved her hands. I chose a two-person booth next to the counter. Its formica top worn with age. Their menu was simple: various versions of omelets, steak and eggs, and huge flapjacks.

I actually felt kind of good about this, since it meant that I was in a truly local establishment. A local establishment with greasy floors. A local establishment where the granddaughter scolded her grandfather.

I sat and I had an excellent American breakfast, accompanied by family drama, and the grand father fry cook who looks like he would have fit right in to the 50s. There was a bit of despair in his manner, something so city. Something so how did I get here? or what the hell is all of this about? Somehow I'm not equipped to read the clues or to understand. I felt foreign in this place. I felt dazed.

All this in a nice little diner in San Francisco.

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