Gravy fries and diner pie!

I may have perhaps possibly mentioned that I’ve been slightly dreading this trip to New Jersey. While I very much look forward to catching up with family, I don’t much enjoy slipping into my role of “mediator” trying to keep the peace between, well, my mom and anyone my mom is mad at.

And I hate flying Continental. Which once again, failed to fail to disappoint. Trapped in the plane, with the seatbelt light on, for TWO HOURS before finally taking off this morning… ugh. No place (that I could find) on their web site where I could request a vegetarian snack, though my mom pointed out that the “beef and swiss” sandwich sure didn’t taste like beef…

But okay, my point is this: what I’d forgotten, in my tenseness, about New Jersey. That it is filled WITH DINERS.

Let me say that again, out loud: DINERS.

Say it with me: DINERS.

DINERS!

We sat in our booth, surrounded by chrome and rockface a la Garden State Brickface (And Stucco), and I stared, wide-eyed, at the menu so full of choices (meatloaf! stuffed grape leaves! monte cristo!) plus all of the “specials” tucked into their pocketed sleeves (THREE sleeves!) and finally chose a Happy Waitress with GRAVY fries. Nomnomnom. Mom had a patty melt, Jahn had a pastrami reuben, little Troy had chicken fingers. All with creamy cole slaw and a pickle. We split a slice of chocolate cream pie for dessert. Shortbread crust. Approximately four feet of whipped cream on top, coated in a melted-then-cooled chocolate armor. Oh yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

I have been promised bagels and lox for brekkie tomorrow, and TAYLOR FRIGGIN’ HAM for brekkie on another day. Ooooh, maybe I can buy Jahn and Cindy’s leftover Taylor ham from them, and bring it home. Unless we have time to stop at a ShopRite or PathMark on the way to the airport. Which would seem slightly less crazy than me shopping out of my cousin’s fridge. Oh, right, and there’s the whole “I’m vegetarianish” thing. But it’s TAYLOR HAM!!! Some vegetarians are done in by bacon… I’m done in by pork roll.

Also: The first photo I took on this trip was of the rust hole on my cousin’s truck’s running board. Rust! I remember rust! Jahn thought it was an odd subject for a photo, then remembered who he was dealing with.

And as for family… My mom has not yet been exposed to the potentially threatening family members. My cousin is a hoot. His wife is sweet, too, though I’ve barely gotten to know her over the years. Today was the first time I met their kids, who definitely have mixed feelings about me. I just don’t exude “kid friendly” even when I try. Also, my aunt is here, whom I don’t believe I’ve seen in probably 25 (or more) years. Oddly, she looks exactly the same. I, on the other hand, am taller. 🙂 At some point tomorrow, I’ll have to point out to her that one of the rings I’m wearing, which I wear every single day and even sleep and shower in, was a gift from her nearly 30 years ago. (Have I ever mentioned my freakishly small hands? Like a child’s?) Anyway, she says that the only part of me she recognizes is my smile. I bet if I put my hair in pigtails, and brush my bangs to the side… and maybe put on a velour shirt and start singing, “My brother threw up on my stuffed toy bunny, now you may laugh but it really isn’t funny” … then it would all fall into place for her.

A fresh report, and photos, after the weekend is over.

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