Saturday, March 3, 2018

Sitting with the boyos at Denny's

There were three high school kids, juniors or sophomores, at the table next to us, they were actually conversing, no faces glued to phones, they discussed a myriad of topics from playing cymbals (in the marching band) to tubas, the social ramifications of skateboarding, the quality of stereo headphones (Bose won), a friend they had mildly screwed over, if Goodwill was still open, investing in a good drum kit and the merits of real drums vs. electronic drums, the I-mac who is probably only 5 or so years younger than these boys was rapt, they were big kids talking about big kid things...

Then one of them dropped a little tidbit about Bob Marley, he said in earnest amazement that Bob Marley died of cancer because he wouldn't cut his toe off because he loved soccer so much, he then went on to say that if you ever saw a picture of Bob's house that he had a huge field in front of it so that he could play soccer and that he'd play with anyone, homeless people and strangers walking by, whoever he could find before getting back to his original thought... i was grinning as i ate my Moons Over My Hammy, we were crammed in the corner on  busy Sunday night and these kids were right next to me, i could have leaned over and explained that Bob actually hurt his foot playing soccer but that his religion forbade him from mutilating his body and so it was a crime against god to amputate a toe, i could have told them he died because he didn't believe in modern medicine until it was too late and used a shaman/medicine man who prescribed herbal remedies, i could have told them that Bob did love soccer and even had his own pro in his entourage who he would play and train with, i could have told them to just go and watch the documentary Marley and that Bob wasn't just about weed but about fighting social injustice and oppression, of course the I-mac could have told them the same thing cuz he's heard it all from his old man, i've heard the boy walking around the house singing Three Little Birds... i didn't say a thing though, i preferred to listen, it was damn entertaining and refreshing to hear teenage kids actually talking and not just mono-syllabic grunts between texts...

Denny's holds a strange and mythical place from my suburban youth, i wonder if it survived? the mall it sat across the street from didn't, bulldozed in the name of commerce and progress, the Hill's dept. store (where i worked) and Gold Circle and Best didn't make it either, defunct purveyors of fine junk, i'm sure they've been replaced by other purveyors of equally fine junk, the Denny's on Day Drive was the only place open for those of us chasing the myths of John Hughes, as a 16yr old i once drank 8 Mickey's Big Mouth's sitting in a parking lot at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, i was supposed to be inside watching the Tribe but instead i was in the parking lot getting fucking ripped on a Tuesday, a school night, at one point i passed out on the lawn in front of that Denny's until my friends got me upright and tried to ply me with coffee, it didn't end well as my old man was none to pleased when i stumbled in the door, it was the place my friends and i would go when there was no place left to go, drinking coffee or milkshakes and splitting orders of fries cuz we spent all our teenage money on weed, now i live a short five minute ride from another one and spend what little forty something money i have on weed, fucking life and it's big circles...

Before i know it the boyos will be teenagers spending their weekends hanging out with their friends and doing the same type of shit i once did, well i'm hoping they actually don't because i was a bit of a juvenile delinquent, i was just good at not getting caught, i'm sure though at one point they will be cruising the sleepy suburban streets and listening to music and they'll end up at this Denny's, they might find that their old man is sitting there in a back booth, a view of the traffic and a cup of coffee, a half eaten omelet, a book and a notebook, not the kid looking for action more a guy who couldn't sleep, one of those people who like to be alone in a crowd, who will leave conversation to chance or speak to no one at all, just a guy observing as he takes stock of what's rolling around in his head...

I wonder if they'll remember the lonely guy who sat at a booth behind them one day, he was intermittently breaking down, he was overweight and lonely, a man struggling with his sexuality under the burden of family and religion, i gleaned all this from his talk with the waitress, he was a regular, someone you could tell the staff sometimes got irritated with, but this is where he came when he was sad, this was a few years back and the I-mac, even at that young age wanted to help him, the Breadwinner handed me some money and i clandestinely paid his bill, then as we were leaving i stopped, i asked if he was okay? he began talking, i listened as the guy poured out his problems, i knew i wasn't going to solve them for him but i understood that i didn't need to, i just needed to listen, before i left i quoted Jean Genet and the cruelty of families, he smiled and had me repeat the name, i mentioned some of his books, then i smiled at him and went to catch up with the boyos...

The fact is there could be any number of names plastered across the front, just so happens this one pops up where i seem to be, there's been other names, but the names aren't as important as the places, a place to go for restless old men, for those whose minds won't shut off, for teenage kids looking for action and chasing some myth wrapped in music and lust, for the twenty-somethings eating off part of their drunk, it is magic and it is misery but in the wee hours, when a cup of coffee is the last thing i need, there is strawberry jam for the toast, there is a place to sit and listen to the murmur of night, there are damp streets and the faded ghosts of people real and imagined that have brought me to a booth to daydream away the night and admire the light of the stars...

* (This post was written before my father's diagnosis - photo of the actual Denny's where i passed out on the lawn- taken from my car. Pops is now living right down the street.. life and it's damn circles, huh?)



6 comments:

Exile on Pain Street said...

Moons Over My Hammy and Grand Slams are the stuff that dreams are made of. I bought a great Denny's coffee mug when I was in Vegas last year but I put it on a shelf below a crap table and forgot it was there. That's a proper burial. I spent a LOT of time at the Denny's on Bagley Rd but now it's a Five Guys. Okay. As Hank would say, scramble two.

looby said...

Sometimes it's easiest for people to tell it all to a stranger. He obviously understood that you'd be a good listener.

It's so important to have a place like Denny's sounds to go, even when you're feeling fine.

daisyfae said...

Cheers to the fucking band kids! Sk8rboyz, too!

We had a Perkins (Denny's-like) that was our place. The place to feel independent and a little bit grown up, always making sure we had enough money left after ordering to tip the waitresses, who seemed to be ancient, but were probably only in their 40's. Drinking coffee into the early morning. Watching the old drunks tumble in. The couples coming in after a night at the disco. The occasional truck driver. i grew up in a fucking Perkins.

In my 20's, when i would occasionally get a night out with friends to go dance at the gay club, we always stopped at the Main St. Denny's to sober up and watch the drag queens mix with the street folk. Generally a quiet crew, but when a drunk started hassling an older queen, damn near everyone in that Denny's stood up to say "Sit the fuck down, bubba!" Proud to have been among them...

Denny's. "Let's go to Denny's and get slammed". i will never say 'no' to that offer...

Kenneth Noisewater said...

I never thought someone could make me want to go to a Denny's before 2 A.M, but you sir have done it. Those teens sounded like good humans. I do feel a need to correct people with rock music knowledge, but you played it right. What's important is that they're passionate about good music. And not Drake.

I do like to go to IHOP because I like using all those crazy flavored syrups. All of them. I got one down the street in the gay neighborhood that the locals guy the "Guy Hop." I just drove by it this morning as a matter of fact.

Maybe I'll take a field trip during my week off. Thanks for the inspiration.

savannah said...

Shit, but I am OLD!

The All Night Diner in my little town used to be where we'd go after closing the club when no wanted to go home. Now, without the club and MILES from downtown and old haunts, I just make something in my kitchen and enjoy (or suffer) being in my own house.

(Pancakes, I think I'll make pancakes later.)

xox

Kono said...

Exile- the All-American slam and coffee, though the Moons over my Hammy is damn good too, i know the one that used to be on Bagley, in fact i'm pretty sure i recently passed that Five Guys, but you know what i missed most about Clevo? Mr. Hero, goddamn that shit's good.

looby- i tend to do some of my best thinking alone in a diner, notebook, newspaper or book, window, endless cups of coffee and the sit-com called humanity to watch...

Daisy- yeah, it's good to know that (some of) the kids are alright...

Dr. Noisewater- there is only one syrup and that's maple, the rest sorta freak me out, besides there's a place in the burgh that has crepe style pancakes and since i've eaten those i rarely eat anything else, they've ruined me...

Savannah- These days i'm almost always there in the morning, if i dare leave my house at all, there was a time when if i was eating breakfast in the morning it was at a bar, and sometimes that bar didn't even serve breakfast unless you count Guinness as breakfast...



looby-