The Legend of Miss Linda

There is a diner by the name of Lester’s in my hometown.  It is a “diner” diner.  Lots of booths.  With table-top juke boxes.  A rotating glass case of cakes.  Breakfast any time.  Italian and Greek specialties.  Early bird specials.  Reliable coffee.  And lots of old people with shaky hands.  It’s a pretty kick-ass place.

Henry and I have visited a total of three times now.  The first time is irrelevant to this post (we ate too much ice cream).  On the second visit our waitress was young, syrupy sweet, and donned an enthusiastic-middle-aged-waitress persona, yet I think she was very capable of murder.  I don’t remember her name, but we’ll call her Bonnie.  About half-way through our meal, someone was seated two booths behind us.  Bonnie goes over.

Miss Linda!

Bonnie apparently has not seen Miss Linda in a while.  They carry on conversation about the life of Miss Linda.  Bonnie is very attentive to what Miss Linda wants.  I have a feeling Miss Linda is very particular.  Bonnie likes to say “Miss Linda”.

Henry and I were pretty fuckin’ amused with this.  The place is already, like I said, a “diner” diner; but when said diner has a regular by the name of Miss Linda, with whom the waitress sits down and chats and dotes on… that’s an über “diner” diner.  I so desired to know what Miss Linda looked like.  I too wanted to see the highlight of Bonnie’s shift.  Alas, I did not want to be rude and stare.  I did not get to have a good look at Miss Linda, and went home wondering that day…

But then there was this past Monday!

Henry and I are seated in a different section of the diner.  We have a different waitress, one who seems eager for us to order, but is still so nice it almost hurts.  I’m assigning her the name Rosalita.  (Yes.  That will do.)  I order a Greek salad and give Henry one of the anchovies that serve as a garnish.  It’s funny because Henry’s never had an anchovy and doesn’t know how salty they are.   And then I take his pickle because I’m a bitch like that.  We also conclude that the thimble-sized cup of white condiment is mayonnaise, which neither of us uses because mayo is kinda gross, unless it’s vegan mayonnaise (yeah, I said it).  And once again, halfway through the meal, (drumroll) would you believe that the Miss Linda is seated right next to us?  Oooh, Miss Linda!

But I don’t look.  Not yet.  (I have manners; I only burp in the faces of those I love.)  The waitress walks over.  Time to coddle Miss Linda.

I tune in to Miss Linda’s order.  Something about “No oil or butter, no nothing.  It shouldn’t look shiny or anything.”

Oh dear.  Somebody is either very sensitive or very… umm… lacking in taste buds?

Some minutes go by and the color from my salad is disappearing.  It’s mostly iceberg lettuce and feta cheese.  There’s still an anchovy sitting on the side of my plate, and I’m sure it feels neglected.  Henry asks me about the “tradition” of nuts in bread recipes and I look at him weird (deservedly so).  I look over at Miss Linda’s table.

Miss Linda has a brunette bob-cut with some highlights.  She looks about sixty-something, and is wearing a teal tracksuit, with some shiny jewelry here and there.  Oh yeah.  “Diner” diner.  She’s eating a big plate of pasta.  Plain, no-nothing-added pasta.  It’s clumping together from the lack of lubrication by oil, butter, or sauce.  Italian grandmothers are rolling in their graves.  There is also a take-out box in front of Miss Linda.  I don’t know what, if anything, is in there.  I hope if there is something, it has a condiment.

After we order a piece of key lime pie, Miss Linda seems to be done with her pasta alla boring.  She reaches for the take-out box and opens it.  There’s MORE pasta in there!  More bland, sticky ribbons of semolina that will soon be even more inedible (yet I’m sure Miss Linda will eat them)!  I’m at a loss for words.  I don’t understand.  Why all the naked pasta?  Why the teal tracksuit?  Are these the reasons Miss Linda comes to Lester’s Diner alone?  Why doesn’t Lester’s serve knishes?

Miss Linda adds to her collection, and then begins to wonder aloud where the waitress went.

“Where did she go?”  Miss Linda says to herself.  She sounds senile.  She stretches her neck up and looks around like a meerkat.  A teal-dressed Jewess meerkat.

After Rosalita comes and soothes Miss Linda, Henry and I order a slice of coconut cream pie (we are NOT fat!).  It’s not very coconutty, and it has merengue on top, which I’ve never had before.  Merengue is nice on the first bite, but afterward I want it to go away.  It’s really just evil in a fluffy guise.  Henry can’t get the taste out of his mouth (haha), and I thank Moses for diners– the big booths; cheap coffee; surprisingly decent (even great) food; a place to just sit for a few hours; eccentric servers, and legendary Miss Lindas.

Now, I can’t even remember what happened with Miss Linda.  I’m not sure if she left before we did, or if she stayed and ordered rice pudding without the pudding or something like that.  Still, I feel extremely fortunate and honored to have had the Miss Linda experience, two visits in a row.  Perhaps on our next visit, she will have dry toast.  Though I can’t help but think that when it comes to actually knowing Miss Linda, it must be a lot like eating merengue.


~ by rabbit on June 11, 2009.

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