Friday, March 7, 2014

Nouvelle Victoire

Quebecois career waitresses in their sixties will always have a spot in my heart. When we - by we I generally mean my older brother and I - visited my dad's restaurant, the waitresses there doted on us. At New Victory Hot Dog they would speak French to our little Greek English ears and we would nod and smile. Paul-Emile, the weathered fifty something delivery man from the pharmacy next door loved us too and with smiling eyes and a creased toothlessness spoke such a deep Quebecois that it would take me years after warehouse work to manage to hear what was being said in accents like his. As a kid, we would pantomime and smile. I tried to visit him a few years ago by dropping by the restaurant, long out of my father's hands, now that I could finally speak with him, but he was gone to the place dead people go. I missed him by a year.
    One waitress, I never knew her name, subscribed to Lundi magazine, a French language celebrity gossip rag full of stars local and international. Without any prompt from us she started saving the pin-ups from the magazine. Every month or so a new stack was given to us. Andy Gibb, Erik Estrada, Mork From Ork, Cheryl Tiegs, some folks we didn't know at all, some local singers. We took these mini posters home and some were hung in our room and some just kept in their stack. They might be somewhere still, in some tattered folder along with choice pages from TV Guide or a page of Star Wars toys from a department store catalog.
    Those pin-ups weren't the only pop culture nuggets we got from the restaurant. My father managed a deal with the juke box man. We would get any 45s that had to be swapped out. So every so often, from the master machine in the basement, 7 inch records would come to us. This bounty along with hamburgers and hot dogs made us thankful little guys, we had it made.
     I love going into diners and greasy spoons. I want to go often enough so the waitress knows my order but I can't eat like that too often nowadays.