* because "Eggs Benedict Arnold" is too obvious, and "Quisling Bacon" is a bit of a reach.
I may have mentioned a few billion times that I have lived here, in the only New York apartment I've ever had, for ages. How long? When I moved in, Microsoft was still tinkering with this new product called "Windows." And for all that time, My Diner has been two doors down, on the corner. Over the years, it's been renovated and expanded, bought and sold, and persevered in a rapidly upscaling neighborhood. It was a dive when I found it, but the food was tasty and cheap. Plus, George the grumpy waiter always recognized me, so I never had to see a menu. He'd see me coming, and within seconds of finding my seat, my Eggs Over, Whiskey Down, and Coffee would magically arrive.
I've been loyal to my diner for many years. I never went to that Other Place, the one down a block and across the street--out of laziness, yes, but also out of duty. And when the super-trendy pancake house moved in next door, I boycotted it. Because the pancakes were big as manholes, and you got four of them that only a linebacker or a mountain lion could possibly finish, and every weekend morning the sidewalks were choked with clueless B&T trendholes who couldn't wait to drop $14 on a stack of flour and eggs that cost 14 cents to make.
I was genuinely worried that market forces would drive My Diner out. Then, mercifully, it became less trendy to stagger away from your Sunday brunch with a distended belly and a yearning to die, and the pancake joint shut down. We, and common sense, won the day.
About a year ago, when Bagels With Butter morphed into a full-blown meal, a ritual was born. The diner knew us, we knew the diner, and every Sunday, within seconds of finding our seats, our Lumberjack with Coffee and Two Extra Plates would magically arrive.
But then came the troubles. The prices went up. The furniture went posh. The Lumberjack wasn't enough food. The pancakes went dry. The bacon withered and cracked. And then, a new waiter overcharged me two weeks in a row. So one Sunday morning, when the three of us walked out of the house, we kept on walking. To the Other Place.
The Other Place has all the charm My Diner has lost, from the oil painting of Mykonos by the owner's daughter's friend, to the Madonna-and-Child woodcut wedged above the shredded wheat, to the colossal breadfruit tree in the window. The staff are friendly, the food is better, the bar has rotating stools that the kids can spin themselves sick on, and the bathroom doesn't smell like a menthol fart. All in all, it's a much more pleasant experience on almost every count.
I am a traitorous dog.