Lunch at Brownie’s Cafe

“How’s your omelet?”

“Good,” he answered. “Unusual, because there’s cheese inside and on top, too.” But it wasn’t gooey, drenched in cheese, the omelet was dry with brown edges like the cook wanted to make sure everything was cooked hard. It was how I would make an omelet, leaving nothing to chance. There would never be anything runny about an omelet I made. I felt at home at Brownie’s, they did things right here.

My BLT was three inches thick, a layer of well-done bacon and then a fat slice of tomato and a wedge of iceberg lettuce between two slices of toasted white bread. I took a bite of the coleslaw and slid the little dish across the table. “Taste it, Miracle Whip.” He did but didn’t mind it. I puzzled over that, how it didn’t bother him when he’d only eaten real mayonnaise the entire 35 years I’ve known him.

We talked about this for a while and then dropped it. There are entire swaths of the country that use Miracle Whip and we will never know that until we travel to those places because who, after all, would advertise this particular fact to prospective visitors? It did make me consider my earlier affection for Brownie’s to have been too hasty.

At the next table, an older couple sat on opposite sides and ends of the table, as far away from each other as it was possible to be. It seemed their intention was to not have to look at each other, they might have been wiser to sit at the counter. He ordered chicken-fried steak and she ordered a taco salad and when their lunches came, they ate, looking down at their plates, him with his arm on the table and her with her arm clutching her purse in her lap. They said not a single word the entire time.

I wondered whether they disliked each other or had just run out of things to say. You can always inquire about the taco salad, I thought. “How’s your taco salad? Does it have Miracle Whip on it?”

At the next table, another older couple sat directly across from each other. He was a very old, small, Western dude with a button shirt tucked into old jeans held up by a leather belt with a big old buckle. She was twice his size in height and weight, wearing a t-shirt and big, flappy jeans, and her hair was pulled back from her face and held with a barrette like she might have worn it when she was 17.

They were also serious eaters. She was eating French fries in such a careful and appreciative way that I wanted to order some. She dipped each fry in catsup and brought it to her lips like it was escargot prepared by a famous French chef. It was beautiful to watch. He ate with his arm on the table like the other man, but his arm seemed relaxed somehow like he as there to enjoy his soup or chili as much as his wife relished her fries. They didn’t talk either but they didn’t seem unhappy or mad.

We talked. First about the omelet and then about the coleslaw, then about Yuma and how far we were from the cut-off for Ajo and Organ Pipe National Park where we were headed before going back to Phoenix through Gila Bend. We talked a little bit about work, a little about our grandkids, some about other road trips we might take, and a little about Brownie’s and how we’d managed to find such a place without even looking.

We hadn’t run out of things to talk about, at least not yet.

5 thoughts on “Lunch at Brownie’s Cafe

  1. I don’t understand the “thing” about Miracle Whip. It was all we ever had in the house when I was growing up and although I sometimes bought mayonnaise later, I never really distinguished between the two. Still don’t know the difference.

    This year, I had a house guest for Xmas. I shopped for enough food to last the whole week, cooked meals to have on hand, had food for most of the meals we’d have. The second day, when he went to the fridge to get ingredients for a sandwich, my friend asked if I had mayonnaise. I said, yes, it was in the fridge door. He spotted the jar, plucked it from the door and said scathingly, “Oh. Miracle Whip” and slammed the fridge door, muttering, “I guess I’ll just go buy some real mayonnaise!”

    Slow burn. And yes, it left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s funny how mayo people can always spot Miracle Whip. I haven’t had that in ages. I remember bologna sandwiches with it, made by some relative I think, maybe an aunt. For some reason it seems as if it might be the right thing to dress coleslaw, but then again memory tells me I didn’t like it way back then so perhaps I’ll stick with what I know. People watching can be extremely interesting, however I tend to wonder who might be watching me, and what they may be writing on their own blogs about that “woman in the restaurant…!”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Garry Armstrong

    Love this piece. Your observations of the other luncheon customers. I do the same thing as I eat. I eat much slower these days. It affords me the opportunity to ‘people watch’ as I savor each bite. I’ve become something of a neat freak these days. At home, I wear one of my Mom’s old aprons when eating. Prevents spillage onto my old yoga pants and old t-shirt or hoodie over tee shirt. Eating out, I usually tuck a napkin over whatever i am wearing. I used to snicker at people who did this. Now, it’s me. I must confess I use a fork and knife to eat Pizza. I am usually the last to finish a meal but I clean my plate. Mom would be proud.

    Liked by 2 people

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