I just got back from my talk at Molloy College — standing room only! Until they made me set up more than five chairs!
But I jest. What a nice gathering, sponsored by the Molloy College Poet in Residence Barbara Novack, who because she’s a poet and invited me to her turf validates all my ambitions to be taken seriously as a writer. Now, if only the MacArthur Genius Awards people would also wise up.
And — this is so exciting — an actual, real live reader of this blog came too!! Thank you Pat (and Shirley) for making me think very highly of myself as the kind of blogger who people will come out to see on a chilly November afternoon when they could just have easily stayed home in their jammies drinking tea and writing sonnets.
Speaking of poets and poetic experiences: So I gave my talk about the Six Tips for living a creative life in the suburbs and I want to elaborate today on Tip No. 5. Or maybe it’s No. 4 — I don’t really pay attention to myself when I’m talking — the one about going out for a midnight snack.
It was important to me, when I was writing my book about Staying Put and concentrating on staying close to home and observing the small pleasures of life , that I get out and walk on the wild side from time to time in my little village on the Long Island Sound. And by that I mean that once in a while I would traipse out to the local 24-hour diner and get a grilled cheese sandwich at 2AM. I like hanging out with the night owls of my neighborhood, and I really like grilled cheese sandwiches.
More to the point, it got me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to moods and thought patterns and reveries that would not occur to me unless I was sitting under bad florescent lighting in the middle of the night with a display of various cream pies revolving in a nearby vitrine. Ideas: if you want to get ideas, sometimes you have to go find them at the 24-hour diner.
Now, usually when I am speaking to a roomful of fellow art journalists and writers and I am telling them about my Tip No. 5 (or 4), I am thinking of the Columbus Diner in Mount Vernon, New York, where I used to get my 2AM grilled cheese sandwiches from 1994 – 2004. But not any more, not since my trip through the Gracious South two weeks ago. No sir; for verily I say unto you that I have found my new favorite 24-hour diner, and this is the diner to which all other diners must bow.
And here’s why:
It’s got pancake syrup (not in those plastic cartridges with peel-off aluminum tabs) as part of the table-top furnishings.
There’s a Gravy of the Day.
The menu includes food for the soul.
Overheard conversation contains complaints about what was and was not “available when I got out“. Of prison, or the army, the priesthood, the Young Republicans of 1968…one can only imagine.
And where is this Shangri-La of 24-hour diners?
It’s on Broadview Avenue in Warrenton, Virginia.
And what is it called?
Good diners make good neighbors. Stop by here on a snowy evening. Take the Breakfast Special No. 3 Less Traveled By.
Frost Diner. For the poetic experience.
Sadly, Top Cat and I were passing through Warrenton, Virginia in the middle of the morning so I have not yet had the pleasure of testing their grilled cheese sandwiches at 2AM.
But their Deconstructed French Toast is excellent.
(This is how I deconstruct French Toast: 2 pancakes, topped with a plain omelet, drenched in syrup. And the tea wasn’t bad, either.)
You know; I’m in the mood right now for some new ideas not to mention a 2AM Long Island grilled cheese sandwich. See you on Friday, when I take you to my local 24-hour diner here on the Isle of Long in the middle of the night and show you all the ideas I find there!