The man at the table next to me, the only other customer, grew up in Texas before moving here. He made his money waiting tables at a gourmet restaurant, where the tips usually ran more than 400 dollars a day. He took that money and invested in stocks, and with the profit he bought himself a BMW and moved into a swank San Diego apartment. Then the market took a shit, he moved out of his apartment, and he's thinking of selling his car. He just turned 30 a few weeks ago, and it worries him that he hasn't settled down, ... but not too much. He mostly lives his life for clubs and bars and women. Just the same, he hates Tijuana, because "Everything there is one big hustle." When he was 13, girls at his school called him Duckie because he resembled John Cryer in Pretty In Pink. He talks like he's slightly buzzed, and has a hard time listening. He saw Severed Heads in concert when he was young, and loved them.
The girl who served me was 19 years old. Half Irish, half German, with stark golden-red hair in a pony tail, and six feet, three inches tall. The night shift at IHOP is her other job. She also works as a receptionist, answering phones for four hours. She sleeps days at her mother's house, though it's hard because her mother runs a daycare. Her parents are divorced and her father, a retired career army man who worked his way up to Master Sergeant, remarried a half-insane woman who is jealous of her independent nature. This girl wants to teach and play basketball, but can work towards neither, as she tries to support herself. Her father gives her nothing, even though he is very well off. She is engaged to a military man who is currently away on duty. They've known each other for eight months now, and he's constantly calling her, afraid that she's going to dump him for a non-military man. They plan to get married next February. The girl has a soft mezzo-soprano voice and a very calm, dedicated aura. Her eyes are an alarming grey-yellow mixture.
I'm a 26-year-old computer geek who has ambitions of being a musician, likes to write and sing, and played in Rocky Horror for a year. I used to play massive network computer games at midnight in the labs. My first real job was as an ice-cream scooper, but I recently got lucky with a good contract job and paid my debts and bought a good car. My social life in Southern California has been a strikeout, and I'm itching to move north. I don't drink or smoke or go to clubs or bars, and so, I have little to do here, or so I've told myself, though I suspect it's not true. I'm self-effacing, almost embarrassed, at my ability to think and talk with precision, so I add extra pauses and slurs to my words, thinking this will put the other two at ease.
100 minutes later we all part ways. It amazes me we could talk at all, let alone for that long, with our very different backgrounds.
People are funny.