#37: Sunday Diners

July 23rd, 2012

Look, look, see, see. See how the diners dine.

Part 1

It started with us in the morning, part of the sleepy-happy contingent of the brunchtime crowd. A certain segment of Chicago treats its Sundays very well. They start the day with food at bars, outdoor patios with breezes and skies and, in this case, an entire cycling team dressed in 312 beer gear.

We ate inside, chasing away the last night’s booze with biscuits, gravy and eggs.  Tired and light-sensitive, we giggled and talked about people we know who have weird jobs. A group of young women at the next table discussed cell phone payment plans. Roscoe Village spun by through the window, but it didn’t matter to our coffee, juice and shy laughs.

Somewhere, people were drinking bloody marys. And somewhere people had cold cereal. And somewhere people were sleeping in or riding bikes or doing something more sad and lonely that I don’t want to think about. Throughout this town, people were getting ready however they get ready for a day still fat with possibility.

Part 2

The evening of a pleasant summer Sunday turned the coffee into wine and the eggs into chicken. People still eat outside, of course. Now it’s the dinner diners’ turn. They take over the streets of gentrifying Chicago Avenue, one or two patios a block with thigh-high fencing marking off a chunk of the sidewalk for tables and food.

I walked alone now, taking a dusky stroll in place of the more far-reaching Chicago exploration my ailing car prevented. I’ve got to take it into the shop again.

The dinner diner crowd is a bit fancier than the brunch one. Sure, some brunchers are very fancy indeed, and some of the restaurants had table after table of evening-eating slobs. But whole swaths of diners had been cut off by the day. There were no sleepy, happy couples still wearing the previous day’s clothes. There were no trios of friends who looked like they just wandered by and plopped in for food.

The nighttime crowd looked like they planned to be there. There were older couples on casual nights out, groups of middle-aged buddies shooting shit over a leisurely dinner.

There was no sense of hurry with this crowd, no one checking their watch to make sure too much of the day hadn’t slipped by. This wasn’t a ritual preparation for a potential-laden morning. This was a victory celebration for a pleasant kill, a simple day quietly defeated.

Look, look, see, see. See how the diners dine.

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You are currently reading #37: Sunday Diners by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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