I have always loved diners. When I was a child it was the allure of the shiny red booths, the jukebox in the corner, the chocolate milkshakes, French fries and a special meal out with Mom and Dad. Later, in the throes of adolescence, it was a combination of the allowance-friendly food prices, the never-ending cups of coffee and the fact that, no matter how long we stayed, the wait staff never kicked us out. It was a place to hang out with a fantasy of independence, a place to feel cool—even if my mother picked us up in a1991 silver Ford Aerostar (disaffectionately called “Ms. Daisy”) at the end of the night.
The summer after my sophomore year in college my parents moved from our home of eleven years in beautiful Bucks County, Pennsylvania to Fairfield County, Connecticut. The move wasn’t too hard on Sharon and me. After all, we had both flown the nest and were only home summers, but it was still an unwelcome change. It wasn’t home we were going home to, rolling hills and Pennsylvania fieldstone barns; it was suburbia, bedroom New York.
It didn’t take long for Sharon and me to find the Post Road Diner. A silver bullet affair with an aqua and pink neon sign out front, it is perhaps the quintessence of diner. I love the antique Coke ads, the black-and-white checked tile, the mirrored walls, the classic sixteen-page menu and the fact that it’s an all-booth diner. No tables, unless of course you want to belly up to the counter on a swivel stool near the soda fountain. It’s straight out of the 50s, complete with a drive-in movie mural (Bogie and Bacall of course) on the outside wall. It’s tacky and kitschy and Sharon and I fell immediately in love. Home is where the diner is.
A month ago I was apartment hunting in New York City with a broker and a friend. After a long and fruitless day, we needed to stop for lunch. Stumbling upon “Big Daddy’s Diner” we decided a burger and onion rings was just the ticket. We sat down in a booth and my broker said, “This next place, I think you’re going to love it.” “How far is it,” I said, “from here?” Three hours later we were signing paperwork. This could be home.