Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May 31, 2016--Midcoast: At Moody's Diner

Down at the end there were two seats at Moody's counter. Moody's in Waldoboro is a Maine diner legend. In season, a slice of their blueberry pie is worth a detour.

And so is the turkey salad, at least according to Rona. I agree as long as we also order some well-done French fries.

It was perfect timing, therefore, to find ourselves in the vicinity when in the mood for a turkey salad on rye and maybe a slice of pie.

"Let me make room for yuh," a bulky man who looked about 45 said, "I'll move down one seat and cozy with Shauna here. My lady," he winked.

Excited just to be there, I uncharacteristically said, "No need for that. It's chilly out and you look like someone good to cozy with."

"You mean I'm fat?" he said, pretending, I happily saw, to be offended.

"No, only . . ."

"It's OK. I just playin' with yuh," he said to assure me, deciding to stay perched on the stool next to where I lowered myself. "Truth is, I am fat and a lot older than I look." He pulled his tee shirt up to show me his considerable belly. "Shouldn't be eating this corn bread." He held it up for me to see, crumbles falling onto the countertop. "But they give it to yuh if you order the chili. Which I recommend."

"We're here for the turkey salad," Rona joined in with an extra-friendly smile.

"And the French fries," I said.

"And a slice of blueberry pie," Rona added to make sure he understood we weren't dieting and that he wasn't the only one eating a lot.

"I know what you're thinking," he paused then added, "A grease monkey."

"No, I . . ."

"That's OK. No need to pretend with me. 'Cause that's what I am. No shame in that." He held up his hands so I could see the full extent of the grease that covered his hands and forearms like a second skin.

"Workin' on his transmission," he said nodding toward another over-size person at the very end of the counter. He too was woofing down a huge bowl of chili and didn't look up in acknowledgment. He kept stirring the bowl to distribute the corn bread he had crumbled on the chili as a topping.

"Where you guys from?"

"From three places really," I said. But for the next five months we have a place down at the Point, Pemaqud Point."

"Nice out there," he said, "What about the other two?"

Rona looked at me as if to say, "You need to be talking about this over-privileged lifestyle to someone who's an auto mechanic?"

Picking that up, I stammered, "Well we . . . I mean . . ."

"I'm cool with that," he said with a wave, "Shauna and me are thinkin' about our version of the same thing. I'm doin' pretty well and we have a nice house here in Nobleboro and a little place not far from the water--a lake actually--in Kissimmee."

"Florida?" I said, "Not that far from Orlando."

"Right you are," he said, and slapped me hard on the back. "For the winters. It gets real cold up here and I have no love for snow. Never did, never will. But all my family's here. Been here nine generations. One of the first families. I mean of white people. When my great, great, great whatever showed up from England there were plenty of other families around. But not white ones, if you get my meaning."

"I do," I said, "There were lots of Indians around. From what I've read, they had no problem with feeding themselves what with giant oysters that you needed two hands to lift and, standing on the shore, fish you could scoop up out of the water. No need for nets or anything."

"There are lots of stories about that that were passed down in my family. Some been written down in dairies from the early 1600s. One so extensive and detailed that it's down there in the Smithsonian collection."

"Wow," Rona said.

"Pretty good for a grease monkey," he said thumping his now puffed-out chest. "And if you're wonderin', there are two governors, Maine governors in my family--Benjamin Ames and Joshua Chamberlain. You wouldna guessed that about me, would yuh?"

"I wouldn't have thought that about anyone," I said, feeling good about taking what he said in stride and not stereotyping him. "I mean, how many people have two governors in their families?"

"Mitt Romney's kids, for example," he said, "And to be fair and balanced, Mario Cuomo's."

"And that dopey Brown family in California," the fellow at the end of the counter mumbled, still shoveling in his chili. "Governor moonbeam."

"I guess it's not so rare," I said.

"You're being silly," Rona said, "Even though these are good examples it's still very unusual."

"No need to give him a hard time, ma'am. We're just getting to know each other. By the way, my name's Dana," he said, thrusting his right hand at me. As I reached to take it, he pulled it back, "Look at me, covered all in transmission fluid and I'm thinkin' to shake hands with you who are about to eat a sandwich." He began to wipe his hand on his shirt. I kept my hand extended toward him and finally he took it and we shook hands, smiling broadly at each other.

"I guess that makes us friends," he said looking me straight in the eye.

"I'm Steve," I said, "And this is Rona."

She reached across my chest with an extended hand and without hesitating Dana took, saying, "Nice to be your friend, Ro, Ro . . ."

"Na, Rona," she said.

"Like Jaffe and Barrett?" he asked.

"Yes, but hardly anyone knows them anymore," Rona said.

"The novelist and gossip columnist," he said. "I seem to remember readin' some of her stuff. Rona Jaffe, I mean. Wasn't she ahead of her time? Wrote a lot of racy stuff from a female perspective?"

"I'm ashamed to say," Rona said, looking down, "that I've never read anything of hers. But, yes, I think you're right. Sort of a Helen Gurley Brown type."

"I think better than that," he said, "She was a real writer. More like an Erica Jong."

"Sounds right," Rona said.

"Changin' the subject," he said, "You folks followin' the election?"

By then our sandwiches and fries had arrived and rather than risk spoiling our lunch and the thus-far warm conversation, not wanting to get into a harangue or argument, we both took big bites to fill our mouths so we couldn't be expected to talk.

"Minimally, whatever you think, it's been entertainin'. Seems these days no one pays attention to anythin' serious unless it's entertainin'. I mean Trump, hate 'em or love 'em, is fun to follow. I mean, to tell you the truth, I'm more in the 'hate 'em category,' but almost every night when I tune in to Fox and MSNBC he's good for some laughs."

Releived, still with a full mouth, I nodded.

"He's like one of those fools in Shakespeare. He speaks his mind and because no one in the media at least take him seriously but  have to admit that some of what he says is true, politically incorrect, he gives folks permission to laugh at things they don't feel comfortable saying out loud or in public. It's kind of embarrassed laughter. You feel a little guilty admitting you are paying any serious attention to him but can't help yourself and laugh at what he has to say. Which I suppose is what a lot of entertainment is about. Comedy at least."

"I agree with all of that," I said after swallowing my half-chewed turkey salad, "So, who . . ."

"Can't say I have a dog in that fight. At least not yet. Maybe never. Sad, but I'm feelin' I don't trust any of 'em. I mean, you can't believe a word Trump says. He sometimes contradicts himself twice in the same sentence. I've seen him do that. And, he's not wrong to call her Crooked Hillary 'cause that's what she is. I mean she's smart and all that and has a big resumé but tell me one thing she's said about herself that you believe?"

"She does have that problem," Rona said.

"Forget all the stuff when she was the First Lady. That's old news, though there's plenty of smoke from that time. I'm talking about where her and Bill's money comes from. Goldman Sachs? Give me a break. And all that hanky-panky with their foundation--forget her continuing to put up with his philandering--and the email business. To me that's a big deal. A very big deal. Everyone knows she's lyin' about that. She knew what she was doin' and put a whole lot a people at big risk. Then I fear if she wins she'd be looking' for an opportunity to show how macho she is once she's commander in chief. I have problems with all of that. Also what Trump would do with the military really scares me. So . . ."

"So what about Bernie?"

"Another liar. Different kind. I agree with him about the rigged economy and government but the lies he tells are about not being able to carry out any of his policies if by some miracle he gets nominated or, God help us, wins. He knows practically nothin' about the world. Less than Trump, and there is no chance of getting Medicare for all through Congress much less free college tuition. First of all the federal government doesn't have any power to tell the Univeristy of Maine what to do and even if he could get all he wants it would, what, double the deficit. I'm not antigovernment like most of the knuckleheads around here, like old Jim over there, but I do care about controlling spending and worry about the deficit. What is it, 19 trillion?"

Jim had finished his chili and was now listening to what Dana had to say.

"So, like I say, I have no one to vote for. If Ralph Nader was running' maybe . . . But he's jerk. 'Cause of him we got George Bush. W, not HW. That puppy has a lot to atone for."

"At the moment, I'm with you," I said with a shrug and sigh, "At the moment, I'm not planning to vote in November. Maybe that'll change. Maybe there'll be a real miracle and Hillary will be indicted and someone like Joe Biden would get in the mix and somehow get nominated and . . ."

"Now you're talkin'," Dana said, "He's my man! Flaws and all. He can also be a jerk. But that sort of makes him authentic. And wasn't he right about the Middle East? Iraq for example? Let it become three separate countries? But that's for another day. Got to get back to Jim's transmission. Next time we're all here, I'll tell you about my meetin' Ronald Reagan."

"Really? Where?" I really wanted to hear about that.

"At the White House."


"I was among a group invited there to get our Silver Stars from the president. I told you I'm older than I look. It was one of the highlights of my life. Not that I thought that much about Reagan. Irangate and all that. Hey, I'd love to hang out more with you guys but a transmission awaits. I'm here with Shauna every day. Down at the end of the counter. So if you and Miss Rona want to stay friends, you know where to find me."

With that, he hoisted his considerable body off the stool and shuffled toward the cashier. Rona and I got up as well and ran after him so we could get in a couple of more handshakes.

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Blogger Gala Girl said...

Especially good one!

June 02, 2016  

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