The other late-night waitress, a short dark-skinned girl with a lot of energy, is a local, who is engaged to a military man, just like the six-foot-three waitress. Her relationship has been going on longer, though. She's on good terms with the manager, and pleased him further tonight when she gave a birthday dessert to a table of customers, evoking a round of cheers and applause. She, too, is bitter about how little money the late shift generates. "On the other hand," she says, with a shrug and half a grin, "It's tough when it gets this busy, so what the hell, eh?"
For a while I sit next to an army man who just drove in from New Mexico. He hates this area, and doesn't really appreciate the weather, though he does love the beach. Not the beach in town, though, that's too crowded for his taste. He likes to drove North a ways and have a barbeque in the clear spots just beyond view of the highway. Hasn't had time for it these days, though. He's about to go back to work. He has a very tight-strung manner, even when joking, as though he secretly resents the entire world for not being disciplined enough. This, and his shaved head, contrasts sharply with his loud hawaiian shirt. And his appreciation for mini-golf. He quizzes me about the courses on 405, and I give him good news.
Then it's another man. At age 36, the oldest one yet. Apologizes repeatedly for being highly intoxicated. Another pilgrim from Texas, it turns out. "Tip your waitress a lot," he advises me conspiratorially, "then she'll give you free stuff next time you eat here." He blathers about Hollywood Squares and makes painfully un-funny jokes with the waitress, who rolls her eyes at me. When she brings him his omelet, he unscrews the lid of the pepper shaker and pours pepper over it. Then he adds more pepper to his salsa, and pours the salsa on the omelet. Then he dumps pepper on his hash browns, and follows that with a cascade of salt. As he demolishes this repulsive meal, I notice the red scab inside the crease of his elbow. Either he's given a lot of blood, or taken a few very heavy drugs recently.
This, friends and neighbors, is late night Carlsbad.
Luckily, I had my laptop along, and got several hours of good coding time in.
Reign of Fire: What a silly film. It needed more jokes. It was a non-serious movie taking itself seriously.