If you can believe it, I have a soft spot in my heart for grungy hang-outs as well as a high tolerance for grotesqueness. It’s probably the result of successfully overcoming germophobia. As a child, I refused to eat at any restaurant that had gum underneath the tabletop. All it took was a glance under the table for me to go on a hunger strike until we got home, where there was no gum in sight. I was once so disgusted by the sight of bubble gum stuck to the table that I accidentally shoved my mother out of the booth. Everyone in the restaurant believed she was drunk, so I had to go on an hour-long time-out for making her look like a fool. It was then that my parents and siblings told me to man up and adapt to gross aspects of life, as I’d encounter more and more of them throughout my life.
With that, I’ve developed an appreciation for the otherwise repulsive. I’d take the subway, which is covered in gum, urine, water puddles, human excrement (really), and food at any given time, over a taxi in a heartbeat. The L train’s nauseating moldy smell has even grown on me, probably because a lot worse could go wrong at the train station. I prefer dive bars over snooty clubs with cover charges. Most of all, I am a diner groupie.
Lately I’ve been going to The Diner in Chelsea. Now that I’ve publicly disclosed one of my favorite Manhattan hotspots, it’s likely that I’m going to have to find another diner to frequent. That’s going to be tough, though, as I love everything about the west village Diner. The servers are nice, the food is great and not too expensive, and best of all, there are free magazines to read towards the back of the room. Since moving to New York, I have resurrected my love for print media, and though I want to cry every time I cough up more money than necessary on a physical copy of TIME rather than simply read it for free on the Internets, I absorb much more of the information on paper than on screen. There’s no going around that. Plus, it’s relaxing to flip through magazines again. I spent much of my youth doing this, and it doesn’t happen enough anymore.
As much as I love my favorite diner meal — grilled cheese and tomato soup (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If I were male, I’d be considered a “man child”) — I don’t like that I’ve been hanging around diners alone lately. Is that not the epitome of depressing? I swear I’m all right, but this scene always brings to mind Mavis in “Young Adult,” a “man child” woman who doesn’t totally get grown-up life.
Quite honestly, though, I’m pretty happy with my life at the moment. Sure I’ve become a diner groupie, but that will change before long.
Besides, who could be troubled in a city that has a Sofia Vergara billboard? Agree or disagree, but I think her ad is the best part of Manhattan. I’d kill to interview her someday: