The only time I see TV anymore is when I take the car in for service and find myself sitting in the waiting area of the dealership. They call this place the “lounge.” Today the TV is locked in to CNN. So I watch. Something about a famous former basketball player found passed out in a Nevada brothel. I’ve never heard of this guy. The woman sitting next to me has a Pomeranian on her lap. She strokes it while her eyes are secured to the TV. Without turning from the screen she says—apparently to me, as I’m the only other person in the room, but then she may be speaking to the Pomeranian—“I feel so bad for poor Khloé!” I say nothing. The woman goes on and on about poor Khloé, all the while stroking the Pomeranian. Maybe Khloé is the dog’s name. Ten minutes of this is enough to remind me that the audience for TV “news” lives on another planet. Or maybe I do. I will wait for my car elsewhere.
Across the busy street is a diner. I head over. I’ve eaten here many times. It’s a good old fashioned diner and always makes me nostalgic for the New Jersey I grew up in back in the sixties and seventies. In those days I didn’t much like New Jersey—or diners, for that matter—but the further away it all gets from me, the better I like it. The same goes for bowling alleys, and I’ve never bowled a game in my life. I take a seat in a booth. The server hands me a menu and says: “Here ya go, hon.” That’s another reason I like this place: All the servers call me “hon”. Even the guys. I order a grilled cheese and wait.
This is my favorite part of going to the diner: Listening to the conversations of my fellow diners, who for whatever reason talk at more ample volume than necessary, often with their mouths full. The woman in the next booth—who is older than I am—is telling an elaborate story to her companion—a man older than she is—about the time she met the Dalai Lama. I’ll give you the summary version.
She was in a drapery shop somewhere in Manhattan, talking with a clerk about her drapery needs, when for no apparent reason the Dalai Lama walked out of the backroom accompanied by the owner of the store. The clerk said to the woman: “That’s the Dalai Lama.” The woman, her spiritual fires now kindled, toddled over to the Dalai Lama and said: “You’re the Dalai Lama!” The Dalai Lama gave her a big smile and said, “Thank you.” Then he left the store. That’s it. That’s the whole story. Maybe you were waiting for something more. I know I was.
Anyway, my grilled cheese has arrived. I’m directing my attention to that. Which is why I’m able to eat it so fast and be on my way. Before you know it, I’m back in the service lounge of the car dealership. My vehicle isn’t ready yet. It could be a while. The TV is still locked in to CNN. But the woman and her Pomeranian are gone. Their wait is over. Mine continues. No need for you to stick around. Thanks for staying this long.