I decided to go out for breakfast this morning. I didn’t even worry a whole lot about the money this time, although why a guy has to drop fifteen bucks every time he sits down to eat these days is beyond me. I suppose I could have shown some self restraint. In any case, it was visually a stunning late morning. The air was crisp and the sun bright, and people were all out with the same idea: breakfast. And maybe a walk. But mostly people were sitting in places that serve food and or coffee in groups of 2 or 3 or 4. Very convivial.
So I decide, since it’s been a very long time since I’ve eaten at a local restaurant, and since it was one of the first places I went to when I moved here, to eat at this giant diner down the street. This place is huge. And popular.
I generally feel guilt when i walk into a restaurant with a bar and insist on being seated at a table. I can see the calculation in the host’s eyes and hear the protests going through his or her mind. And Saturday afternoon is big business for places like this. So this time when I walk in I head straight for the bar and grab a stool. And there was a dapper young stylish couple sitting there too! I tell you, this neighborhood’s going places. Once the edgy cool-hunters cram as many of themselves as possible into the impoverished and dangerously gritty ghetto right above this area, they will be forced to embrace my middle american oasis with it’s large, cheap apartments and naive attempts to be trendy (some new bars opened. Gag).
Anyway, this old guy grabs the seat right next to me, which is annoying because i like to have space around me when i eat in solitude. And old guys get talky. But I tend to forget on occasions like this that I probably would love to talk, and who am I to refuse an opportunity to be social with all my whining about the isolation and loneliness?
So he talks to me and I listen. And I participate. And it turns out he’s an old Turkish film actor, and an accomplished ballroom dancer (Latin styles, only), and he attempts to start up a conversation about soccer but stops himself because I’m American and I know nothing about it. Which I agree with. I know nothing about it… but I also know nothing about any of the sports because really it takes way too much effort to follow that shit.
So he shows me his iphone, which has bookmarked a page in Turkish with all the scores of all the games in Turkey. I ooh and aaah, and tell him I don’t have one yet and that I’m impressed. We joke about how, now that you can get the temperature instantly on your phone, you don’t have to go outside anymore. Then he tells me about a recent medical procedure he’s had and how competent and wonderful the medical services in this country are. I hesitate to nod enthusiastically to this one, as I’m thinking about my own recent “travails” but this doesn’t derail the conversation. Then he mutters something about women getting too fat these days with their huge asses, not being able to entice decent men. I reply that some guys like them, and there’s someone for everybody out there, if they look hard enough. To this he replies that I probably don’t need to settle for the fat girls, as I’m in good shape, like he was as an attractive young actor in Turkey.
Finally, he tells me about his wife who is 21 years younger than he is, who has been his wife for 30 years, and who tells him she loves him every day. This feels like a big deal to me. So I congratulate him and do a little reflecting on my own life and my own experience with devoted younger women (woman). They really are fantastic, by the way.
As I get up to leave he looks me up and down and remarks that I must be returning home to my beautiful girlfriend. I tell him I don’t have one and he gives me another look and pronounces in a full-bodied throaty turkish accented english that I’ll be having quite the success with the ladies and that they had better get ready.
There was a lot to this guy and my first instinct was to bury my nose in my book and try to get him to leave me alone. But I fought it, and he turned out to be very entertaining and a good self esteem booster. Luckily I also seem to have the urge to talk to strangers at bars, be they breakfast or after hours.