We're At That Greasy Spoon On Clark

August 2, 1999 
Honest to God (although I’m an atheist) this all happens: 

I’m not hungry but I tag along with Jorge and Clayton to that greasy spoon on Clark and order an omelet anyway. 

Lemme back up.

It’s way past midnight and we’re walking along Clark, near where that greasy spoon is. You can tell by the unlit lampposts and un-signaling traffic signals that most of Clark is still powerless.* Maybe my AC, Jorge’s AC, Clayton’s AC, or all three of our ACs together, blew the neighborhood transformer. That greasy spoon’s lights are on, though; so we go in and grab a booth by a window. And like I said before, I ordered an omelet I didn’t need.

On the jukebox in the corner, pop classics by the likes of Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor are followed by modern classics by the likes of Prince and Mariah Carey.

Clayton orders the most cheese chocked-filled omelet I’ve ever seen. He spends more time forking gobs of melted cheese away from the rest of the omelet’s eggy-ness than he does actually eating it. An omelet shouldn’t require this much effort. Maybe he shouldn’t have asked for extra cheese. He gives up on it and orders an Oreo cookie milkshake. He drains it fast and orders another.

Jorge, ever the rebel, doesn’t make it a three omelet table. He orders pasta and veggies with pita wedges and hummus. When it arrives, Clayton reaches across and steals a carrot strip. Jorge goes, “Don’t… eat that.” So Clayton doesn’t. He sticks the carrot strip up his nose instead. Honest to God.

Jorge reaches for the salt shaker. He tips it over the tiny cup of cream he isn’t going to pour into his coffee. “Dude,” I go, “don’t waste the salt.” He returns the salt shaker to the condiment caddy — then grabs the carrot stuck up Clayton’s nose. “Hey!” goes Clayton. Jorge dips the strip in his hummus and eats it. Swear to God.

Clayton steals two celery sticks from Jorge’s plate. He doesn’t lodge these up his nostrils. No, he jabs them through his ear holes. (Not through enough to pop his eardrums, but through enough to scoop up some wax.) Did I mention Clayton and Jorge hail from the same small southern town? South of the Bible Belt, is this how they all cut loose? 

Any night owl passing by our booth’s window can look in and see our mischief. But really, where are you likely to find anybody minding their table manners after midnight in Wrigleyville? It’s why some people come, it’s why other people go.

All three of us use the table to add live percussion to the jukebox music. Which reminds me: Clayton knows the son of a bona fide rock star. Let’s call the rocker “Mr. Kilroy.” Let’s say his band’s name rhymes with the word “fix.”

Turns out the turn of the century isn’t going so well for Mr. Kilroy.

At some NYC restaurant he was served 7 UP laced with liquid ammonia. Mr. Kilroy sucked enough of it up through his straw that he started convulsing. Whether it was intentional or accidental, I don’t know. But a lawsuit is pending.

The dentist who performed Mr. Kilroy’s root canal struck a nerve in such a way that it affected the rocker’s eyesight. Mr. Kilroy can’t go anywhere now without donning his sunglasses. Doesn’t matter if it’s day or night. Bright light of any kind is insufferable. Again, whether this was intentional or accidental, don’t ask me. But a lawsuit is pending.

“Hm,” I go, because I’d like to add something to the conversation. “Did'ja know Ford has an entire department solely dedicated to the devilment of the horn?”

Jorge snickers. 
Clayton gags on his milkshake. 
This is why they take me anywhere. 
I meant to say, “development.” 
Instead I go, “What?”

Clayton slaps the table and shakes with laughter. Jorge looks up and shakes his head. Me, I look up, too. There’s just that old tin ceiling. Again, I go, “What?” But clueing me in would spoil the fun. I shrug and go, “They’ve got another department dedicated to perfecting the sound of the door slam. Honest to God. The door slam! I could do that all day! Let’s go up to Michigan and show ‘em how great I am at slammin’ doors! Whaddya say? Come on! Let’s go right now!”§

*[09/26/21: That is, sans power.]

[09/26/21: Legal department addendum: 1st Clarification: This happened over twenty years ago. 2nd Clarification: Whether canned, bottled, or dispensed from a soda fountain, 7 Up is as safe, if not safer, than any other popular soft drink on the market. Swear to God. 3rd Clarification: The restaurants in NYC are probably as safe, if not safer, than the restaurants in any large city across these United States of America. God Bless It. God Bless You. And For Christ’s Sake, Quit Sneezing. Or, If You Must Sneeze, Use A Hanky.]

[09/26/21: Legal department addendum: Please do not avoid undergoing a root canal, if you actually need one. If you do not actually need a root canal, but want to get one anyway, you’re probably a masochist. Please seek therapy. BTW: The FireVaney had a root canal (out of necessity) and suffered no ill effects. Honest to God. That is unless you can link his stupendously poor decision making skills with the oral surgery he underwent when he was twelve, or whenever it was. (He was young, prepubescent, or thereabout.) “I dunno,” goes old man FireVaney, as he attempts to reminisce and draw conclusions, “coulda been the stuff they gave me to knock me out.” And why did he need a root canal when he was just a lad? He’d fallen off his bike and made the snap decision to take a bite out of the sidewalk. It didn’t taste so good. The mouthful of blood didn’t help, either. Outside of the body, it’s best to use blood as you would a spice. You know, just a dash, or a sprinkle. Well, maybe a squirt would make more sense. And maybe next time you go for a bike ride, bring along a bottle of BBQ sauce. Or some honey mustard.]

§[09/26/21: Legal department addendum: Presumably, The Ford Motor Company is not alone when it comes to such “R & D.”]

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