January 23, 2002
I don't get down to the Diner as often as I used to; it tends to be a stop for when I'm lunching by myself and want a contemplative atmosphere. The ambience of the place would be beyond cilchéd if it weren't for the fact that the place has been there long enough that the now-trite elements of its decor were actually novel when the place was built.
So, naturally, I stopped in for lunch today, a fairly decent burger and lemonade that's as good as only diners in this town can make it. I watched as George and Alex, the proprietors, sat down in one of the booths with a woman who clearly didn't know the diner well, and who seemed a bit uncomfortable being there. From her body language alone, I could tell she was representing some of the people whose plans were threatening the place. Overheard bits of conversation featured George's broken english explaining that there wasn't any need for them to talk to their lawyer, because "that will just cost me money for him to tell you what I just said." She left with a plaintive apology and repeated declinations of a cup of coffee to go.
From what I could tell of their post-meeting conversation, Alex clearly was more willing to entertain whatever offer was being made... his phone call summary on the (rotary dial!) phone on the counter had him explaining to, presumably, his wife that "we can always just build another one". George's lengthy diatribe in Greek didn't cease while Alex was on the phone, it just shifted its audience from one man to the world in general. He continued marrying ketchup bottles, muttering under his breath.
I thanked him when I left, and nodded towards the xerox copies of the Voice article that they had on the counter. "Good luck." He replied, "Yes, I hope us good luck too."
One of the things I struggle with about New York is that I love this city's relentless pursuit of the new, the Better Faster More that propels it. But there are times when its lack of sentimentality troubles me, and I guess sometimes it's good to get a reminder that there are negatives to this pace, despite my romanticism of it.
I have a feeling that I know how this whole situation will turn out.