Nov. 4, 2013—
I am that guy.
I’m the guy who sits alone at the Golden Apple on Saturday night. He always carries a newspaper or two. One newspaper has the latest stories, the other one may be from last Sunday. That guy is always trying to catch up.
He sits alone in a booth because he can spread out his newspapers.
He looks at the empty seat across from him and sees shadows. They can torment him.
I used to look at that guy from a distance and think, “I’m glad I’m not that guy.”
Suddenly last weekend I became that guy.
He talks about the Cubs even though they haven’t played a meaningful game since Memorial Day. Speaking of summer, don’t get that guy talking about the weather. You know you are that (old) guy when you start discussing five-day forecast projections with strangers.
That guy can get awfully fussy.
He orders the same thing from the menu which is a bowl of chicken noodle soup (first please), Greek chicken with rice and vegetables. Garlic toast on the side. That guy gets impatient if there’s any kind of delay.
When the Mexican cooks screw up his Greek chicken and that guy fidgets, the waitresses turn their heads back and forth like salt and pepper shakers. There are too many guys like that guy on a Saturday night at the Golden Apple.
The Golden Apple has never closed its door because of guys like this. The Greek diner is open on the family holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter. When he was a younger guy, that guy came into the Golden Apple after a few too many tequila shots on his summer time birthday.
Annette Hubbard has worked the Apple Sat. night shift the last 16 yrs.
I suppose my that-guyness hit me when a young couple walked hand in hand down Lincoln Avenue past the Golden Apple’s window. They looked at that guy like he was a fish in an aquarium. They quickly turned away from the scene in the otherwise empty booth of sprawled out newspapers. Is that guy planning some kind of weird event?
The Golden Apple is across the street from the beautiful St. Alphonsus church with bells that ring over regentrified blocks of mostly young people. That guy has been to a couple of splendid weddings at that church. Sometimes he thinks of the people he knew who got hitched there, encountered a rough stretch, but worked it out and don’t come to the Golden Apple anymore on Saturday nights.
My friend Annette Hubbard has worked the 2-11 p.m. shift for the last 16 years at the Golden Apple. She said 60 per cent of her customers are that guys, or I guess regular guys. Many of them prefer to sit on the diner counter stools. They don’t hog an entire booth like I do.
I asked Annette what they argue about.
"What’s on the television set (above the counter)," she answered. "Baseball, football, basketball.
"I switch to different stations after a little while."
That’s just how relationships can work, which is why there’s so many guys on a Saturday night at the Apple.
After dinner it is time to wind it up and reassemble the newspapers. Heaven forbid a bus boy takes your newspapers before you finish them.
That guy says goodbye to all the other guys, because, frankly, there are no female customers at the Golden Apple at 8 o’clock on a Saturday night.
You know you will see those guys again soon, the Cubs will still be losing, the soup will be warm and church bells will be ringing for someone.