In Search of the BEST Diner

best dinerWhen it comes to eating out, there are two kinds of families: restaurant families and diner families. My family is a diner family. No fancy steak houses or sushi bars for us. When we want a hearty dinner and indigestion for four, it’s off to the diner we go.

Diners are great because no matter which diner you go to, in any state, off any highway, you can always get the same thing and it will look the same and taste the same, and usually, two hours later, it will repeat on you the same. It’s like there is some big diner central where one guy cooks all the food and then sends it through some global transport tube to the diner where you’re eating.

Ding! Your tuna melt is up.

All the diners are decorated the same way, as well. They all have booths and breakfast bars and those same revolving dessert displays featuring gargantuan ten layer cakes that look incredible but taste, universally, like Twinkies. Even the chocolate ones taste like Twinkies. It’s quite a feat.

And then there is the menu. Diners are the only places in the world where you can get souvlaki, chicken parm and an enchilada all in the same restaurant… for breakfast.

Is it four-star dining? No, of course not. But there’s always something at the diner for all the fickle eaters in my family, so it works for us… as long as we don’t get too adventurous and stick to the chicken parm and the tuna melts.

Still, we have always been hopeful that one day we might find a diner that rises above the rest. An uber-diner with better tasting food. The Holy Grail of diners. The “best” diner.

And then we found it: The Best Diner. That’s what it was called… the Best Diner. It said as much on the big glowing neon sign by the side of the road.

Of course we were dubious. We’ve been to places that declared they had the “best pizza”… which turned out to be a dough-based Frisbee with tomato sauce. We’ve had “the world’s best coffee” and then seared our tongues on caffeinated swill. Yes, we have been fooled by these “best” claims before, so we entered The Best Diner suspiciously, with appropriately low expectations, and with a roll of Tums.

“Wow, a jukebox at our table,” the kids exclaimed. “This is the BEST diner.”

“Yup, that’s what it’s called,” my husband and I snickered, as though we were the only ones to ever make this joke.

The waitress took our order and brought over some coffee. The coffee was good. Great, in fact. Then the food came.

It was also good. Really good. Yummy noises came from all around the table. I raised an eyebrow at my husband.

“This really is the best diner,” I said to him. We smiled contentedly at each other. We were in Diner heaven.

For many months we went to the Best Diner and ate the best diner food we’ve ever had. Perfect pancakes… thick, juicy hamburgers… mouth-watering desserts.

Then ski season ended and we had to go back to our regular diner back home.

Months passed and we tried new diners. Diners at home. Diners at the beach. Diners on the highway and off. But none of them measured up to the Best Diner.

Then one summer day, we decided to take a drive up to ski country and see what it was like during the off season. As we got off the highway, we started to drool like Pavlov’s dogs in anticipation of our stop of at the Best Diner.

“Look,” yelled my son as the neon sign came into view. “It’s not the Best Diner anymore.” We all stared at the sign that now said “Bob’s Diner.”

“Who’s Bob?” asked my daughter.

“I guess Bob bought the Best Diner,” I surmised.

“Is it still the best,” asked my son as we went inside. We looked around. The décor was the same. The jukeboxes were still there. The menu hadn’t changed.

We were hopeful. But as soon as I tasted the coffee, I knew the jig was up.

“What can I get you today,” asked the waitress.

I sighed. “I’ll have the tuna melt.”

©2014, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Sofa… So Good.

“The sofa has left the building,” my husband said to me over the phone.

Monty on the couchI jumped up and down. My husband had decided to upgrade his leather office couch, and the reject was coming home to go in our playroom. Until now, the playroom had plenty of room to play, but no place to sit. When they were tired of standing, the kids had sat on beanbag chairs, the floor, and occasionally, in desperation, the dog. We were ALL very excited about this seating upgrade. Especially the dog.

With the help of several burly co-workers, my husband got the sofa into our SUV and drove it home. But once home, it took him, me, both kids, and the dog just to get it out of the car and into the house. OK, the dog didn’t really help. He was just there for moral support.

Still, it was clear that there was no way the four of us were going to be able to get the sofa across the house, down the stairs, and into the basement playroom.

“Can’t we tryyyy?” I begged. I like to set an example for the kids that immediate gratification is something to strive for.

“No way,” said my husband. “It’s too heavy. Someone will get hurt.”

“Hmph,” I pouted. My husband shook his head. The kids shrugged and walked away. Only the dog backed me up.

“When the guys come to finish painting the fence tomorrow, I’ll ask them to move it,” said my husband firmly. “Can you wait 12 hours?”

“Fine,” I sighed, as I plunked down in the leather sofa dumped sideways across my breakfast room floor. “Cuz I’m just loving this six foot sofa in the kitchen, you know?”

The next day I waited anxiously for the workmen to arrive. By noon, it was clear they weren’t coming. By 3pm, I had an alternate plan.

“Come on guys, were going to move the sofa,” I said cheerily to my kids when they got up.

“Mom, we couldn’t move it WITH dad,” protested my son. “How do you think we’re gonna do it without him?”

“Like this,” I said, lifting up one end of the sofa and raising it to the ceiling so that the sofa stood up on the other end. Then I went around to the other side and lowered the ceiling end of the sofa down the other side to the floor. I stood back and grinned. “Ta-da!!”

The kids eyed me skeptically, but then they joined in helping me roll the sofa one end over the other across the house. The dog, of course, followed and offered moral support.

My plan worked perfectly until we got the to the top of the basement stairs. While I had overcome the weight issue, there was one problem I just had not foreseen.

“It doesn’t fit!’ declared my son.

I examined the width of the sofa and then the width of the basement stairs. One was significantly narrower than the other, but not in the way I would have hoped.

I thrust out my lower lip. If I could push an eight pound baby out of my body… twice… I could get a stupid sofa down a narrow flight of stairs.

“We’re going in!” I announced as I barked at the dog to move
and I pushed the sofa on its end to the top of the stairs.

“It’s not gonna fit!” yelled the kids.

“We’re gonna MAKE IT fit!” I yelled back.

I sent the kids down the stairs and shoved the top of the sofa. It slid down the wall and came to a rest just above the stairs.

“ANGLE IT!” I yelled to my son. The two of us turned the wedged sofa slightly on its side. It slid down a little further, and then got stuck midway down the staircase on a ledge on the side of the wall.

I studied the stuck sofa for a few minutes, and then, With the dog at my feet and the wind in my hair, I flew in the air and landed on top of the sofa, knocking it past the ledge and onto the stairs, where I rode it down to the basement floor.

The kids stood back in amazement.

I got up and grinned. “And THAT’S how you get a sofa into the basement!”

“Nice!” exclaimed my daughter.

“One thing,” said my son.

“What’s that?” I asked.

He looked around. “Where’s the dog?”

©2014, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

bookbutton-04“Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs”  makes a great beach read! To get a copy for you or a cool mom you love, CLICK HERE

To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
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Filed under This Old House, Who Are These Children and Why are they Calling Me Mommy