Monday, March 29, 2004

Wherein The Author Eats at The Rainbow

At the Rainbow Restaurant and Pancake House in Elmhurst, Illinois, they really bring the food to the guy at the next table. He starts with a three egg omelette full of sausage and covered with cheese. He's got hash browns, four pieces of toast, a double side of bacon.

His wife and kid sit across from him eating their own food. The kid, about 8 or 9, eats a short stack of pancakes, leaving half of one drenched in syrup. The wife eats a skillet breakfast, two scrambled eggs mixed up with hash browns and peppers.

The guy, though, he's heroic. After his own meal he signals across the room to Anna, one of the waitresses, who comes over within 30 seconds with a stack of 3 pancakes. These pancakes are about the size of the hubcap off a 75 Buick Le Sabre and the guy goes after them with gusto.

Gusto. That's a good word for Chicagoland, a town, an area full of big people, all smiling, 1/2 of them smoking, virtually all of them red faced and ready to give a visitor directions to the nearest place to get a polish sausage. The guy next to me is fat. Now, please understand, I admire him. I love him. What I mean to say is I love this guy. He eats with an abandon that is intoxicating. I'm big, too, as you must know. In fact my exterior dimensions are exactly the same as those of a double doored Kenmore refrigerator freezer. (Okay, I'm exaggerating. I'm not that tall.)

So, my admiration of the guy next to me is hard-won. I pause during my own meal when I see him finish the hot cakes. I'm praying, rooting, dreaming that he'll raise one meaty finger to Anna again and another plate will come. But he doesn't. He drinks some water. Smiles at his family. They pay the check and leave. When he's gone, the place seems a little quieter, a little less fun. My own meal doesn't taste as good.

I shot this sad photo long after he's gone.