My oldest son came with me to an author event yesterday in Palatka. During the drive on the way over, he explained that he’d forgotten his homework back at home.
“Okay,” I said. “Then, you’re going to have a late night.” Palatka’s about an hour and a half away, and the event ran until 7:30. His best case scenario had him starting his homework at 9pm.
The event ran fine. We both had a lot of fun, showed Dragon Run, demo’ed StoryTellers and SiegeStones, and even made a little money. Afterwards, as we were driving out of Palatka, my son brought up the subject of dinner.
“We’ll have to get something on the run,” I said. “You’ve got homework.”
“Da-ad! We’re, we’re out. We can’t just do fast food.”
“I got it. Don’t worry about it.”
“Okay,” I said. “Keep your eyes open for a cool place.”
Five minutes later, we spotted Angel’s Diner, which had a sign that proclaimed it to be “Florida’s Oldest Diner.”
Of course we pulled in. It was a classic old-school diner, long and narrow, and leaning slightly to one side. There were only a few people inside, but we bellied up to the counter.
My son leaned close to me, “I’ve never been in a diner, before.”
“Take a deep sniff,” I said.
He gave me his I’m-not-sure-if-you’re-kidding-or-not look, so I inhaled deeply through my nose and let the smells of hot hamburger grease and fresh onion rings and sizzling butter and old polyester fill me up.
As my son imitated me, I watched a smile spread across his face. “That’s delicious.”
“That’s a diner,” I said.
“What can I get for you boys?” a waitress asked.
We looked at her blankly, still caught up in the moment.
“To drink?” she said.
“Um,” my son grabbed the plastic menu.
“Say ‘milk shake'” I whispered to him.
“What? Oh, yeah!” He smiled at the waitress. “Milk shake, please!”
We spent the next hour in the diner. He ordered something called a “Black End”, which was hamburger and egg and bacon all mixed together into a patty and served with melted yellow cheese on a hamburger roll. I went with The Sampson “All the Way”, a half-pound burger with everything you can think of piled on it (except tomatoes), and a side of chili cheese fries.
We talked about everything from school to work to whether or not they had straws back in 1935 (which is when Angel’s opened).
From a dad’s perspective, it was just about the perfect meal.
We didn’t get home until close to ten thirty, but as soon as we did, he dove right into his homework.
And that made it even better.