Breakfast West of the Mississippi is something different from breakfast anywhere East of the great Divide. We've got breakfast joints in Chicagoland, sure -- but they treat the meal like it's something less than its siblings, lunch and dinner.
Maybe it's because the West Coast is three hours behind that part of America that puts on a suit in the morning, and they're just sitting down for their first meal of the day when everyone else is starting to think about their second. Out this way you can get breakfast for real, treated as the sacrament it's meant to be. And eat it slow and easy.
I'm posting this from a San Francisco diner. I have an order of Eggs Blackstone on the way -- poached eggs on a bed of spinach with a broiled tomato. Topped with Marinara. I promise to enjoy it.
Something else you get out this way that isn't practised on the streets of Chicago: appreciative comments from strange men. I figured I'd aged out after I moved to Chicago from Seattle, 'cause they just stopped coming. Maybe I'd get a glance, sometimes a shy smile. But those Midwestern boys had nothing much to say to me. They're not that forward. Not that I minded (I thought): I got my Midwestern boy. That's all I need.
But I took a wrong turn this morning and stepped deeper into the Tenderloin than I planned, and I suppose I should have minded more when that young delivery guy said: "Now that's some kind of pretty. That's how ya do it." And of course I gave him a crooked grin that said "mind your manners, young man." But of course I didn't mind at all.
But that old guy who wanted me to look inside his styrofoam cup because something in there was "dancing just for you -- you've gotta APPRECIATE this"?
That's when I knew it was time to turn out of the Tenderloin.