I could leave. I could chuck all this, walk away from it, all of it. Leave and never look back. Jimmy’s got an asshole friend who sniffs around with a view to buying in. (Why he would want to do this is beyond me. Maybe he hates himself.)
He was just in here sniffing on Saturday. Sizing it up. I could tell him he’s welcome to my slice. Tell him what number I have in mind and he’d hate himself so much, the number’d seem reasonable to him. Not outlandish at all. I could take my takings and vamoose. Amscray. Move far away from here. Start all over, from scratch.
Find some small town. Not the burbs. Someplace further afield. Some exurban town. A main street and only a little bit more. That’s where we’ll stake our claim. House on a corner, with a sloping lawn and a shade-giving tree with one of those … swings hanging from a strong branch, you know the swings. The mortgage’ll be so small that I’ll smile when I discover how small the mortgage is.
Won’t need much once we get settled. Find a small, empty place (there’s always a small, empty place) and fit it out. Grill, hood, fryer, walk-in, freezer, dry storage, sink, dishwasher. Counter with six or so stools, row of tables hugging the wall, couple more in the window. That’s it.
Breakfast/lunch only, six to two-thirty, Monday thru Saturday, or Tuesday thru Sunday, though I suspect it’ll more likely be the former.
There’ll no doubt already be a breakfast/lunch grill. I will let it be known I’m not here to run anyone outta business. I pose no threat. I am an exemplary neighbor. I won’t win ‘em over overnight. But I will win ‘em over.
I’ll go local. Sysco (or the equivalent) only for the things I gotta use Sysco (or the equivalent) for. Otherwise, bread, buns and rolls from the town bakery. Steaks, beef, bacon, chops from the town butcher. If I luck out, I’ll find a small independent coffee guy. Then, seek out a farmer and say to that farmer, ‘Farmer, sell me your vegetables and sell me your eggs.’ Get my dairy from the dairy.
This is so easy, it almost takes care of itself, almost.
Breakfast, just eggs, with the various meats, plus potatoes, toast, pancakes, French toast and waffles. Though waffles are a pain in the ass, so if you try to order a waffle, I’ll steer you toward the French toast or pancakes part of town, perhaps even with a little lie bout me being outta waffle batter or the iron’s broken or I can’t find the spray you coat the iron with so the waffle’ll stick and no one wants a waffle that just got peeled and pried outta the iron.
Lunch’ll be BLT’s, clubs, chicken- and fish-wiches, burgers, dogs, diet plates or salads, fries or chips, cole slaw (of course), cottage cheese, and whatever’s in the crockpot. There would hafta be a crockpot. I’d pare down the crockpot rotation to the bare bones All-American ones. (I won’t try to push something like a … like a cassoulet on anyone. No intention of being one of those idiots who cashes outta the big city then foists something designed to broaden the horizons of those who like their horizons as they are. Kinda narrow. So cassoulet’s out, as is everything else that’d scare off the xenophobes. But stews, chilis and roasts will do just fine. Few non-threatening Mexican or Italian things as well.)
Desserts would also be from the bakery. That bakery will love me.
It’ll be the kinda place with the old-fashioned register and a bell that jingles when the door opens. The kinda place with the specials hand-printed and taped to the window. The kinda place that reminds you of a hundred other places.
I’ll be that guy who, when you walk in, is leaning over the counter, huddled over the daily paper, with coffee. I hear that door open, I’ll stand up straight to see who just walked in. I won’t learn your name for a good long while. (I’m horrible with names.) But once I learn it, it stays learned. If I like you, we’ll whoop it up and/or chew the fat. If I don’t, our conversation will be perfunctory at best. A token exchange and nothing more.
My staff’ll be me, and maybe another guy if I can’t work a grill like I used to, back in the day. That’s it. No Julie-Laura squabbles that make me hafta juggle the schedule last minute cause they refuse to work with each other. No kitchen unrest when a group of morons wander in three minutes fore the kitchen closes. No Alan. Oh, how I tremble at the mere thought. (Though I will miss my current favorite line: “Into each life, a little Alan must fall.”)
When I’m not working, I’ll be home. When I’m not home, I’ll be working. But daytime hours. Nights are for the birds. (Or for younger men. I’m not as young as I used to be.) I can do early. I can do a four in the morning wakeup. If it means my day’s done by three, three-thirty at the latest, I can do it in my sleep.
So I can be home more or less by the time he’s done with school. Throw a ball around or do whatever hobby he’s into. (My main hobby was those Avalon-Hill board games.) School projects, he’ll prolly need some help with, and though I’m useless at all that shit, and Wife-asaurus is gonna be way better at helping with all that shit, I wanna at least be there just in case.
Plus, homework. Shit. He’s gonna have homework. This is years down the pike. I can prolly help out with the homework he gets grades one through … four, I guess. But … whenever he has to start diagramming sentences? Learning dates of when important shit happened? Memorizing that stupid periodic table? Let’s just say I’m gonna be reading his textbooks a chapter ahead of him and leave it at that. Okay? Can we just leave it at that? I had a nephew ask me what a gerund was. The unfortunate part of that is he knew the answer and was teasing me cause he kinda just knew I didn’t know. Little smart-ass prick.
So I’m gonna be reading up on stuff.
I member when I was a kid. Glen too. We were both kids, and I member. Our dad was the only dad who was around afternoons. All the other kids had dads that weren’t home til dinner. I’m not saying it was better or worse, our situation compared to the other kids. Neither here nor there. Just the way it was.
Though one way we had it worse than our friends was whenever we did something that landed us in trouble, which was … eh, three or four times a week. All the other kids had til dinner fore the hammer came down. But us? Glen and me?
Soon’s mom said something long the lines of ‘Wait until your father gets home,’ Glen and I (which was usually only ‘I’, cause Glen was such a kiss-ass mama’s boy, he never got blamed for shit) would head for the hills. In our house, ‘Wait until your father gets home’ usually only meant another ten fifteen minutes, tops.