The other night, I woke up at 2:30am. I was a little sick, with a sore throat, stranded at my place in Brooklyn while my girlfriend slept peacefully at her Manhattan apartment. There’s a diner nearby called Tina’s Place, one of those places with cheap pancakes and shitty-good coffee.
On weekdays, it opens at 3:30am to serve the truck drivers and factory workers that come through the industrial neighborhood turned hipster enclave. Within a one-mile radius, there’s a Boar’s Head plant and several factories; an Insta-famous vintage shoppe; and an over-priced cupcake bakery.
Ordinarily, I’d be asleep during the opening of the restaurant. Or if I was awake, I wouldn’t be sober enough to properly document the experience. So, the other night, my restlessness provided me with a rare opportunity to hit Tina’s with the early, early-morning crowd.
I took to the streets in a black pullover, jeans, and a white ballcap. My usual attire. I cruised past two bars that had recently closed: Archie’s and Fine Time. Each spot had four people standing out front. Outside Archies they smoked cigarettes; at Fine Time I overheard someone say, “He didn’t rape 100 women.” They were probably talking about Bill Cosby, which makes the statement at once absurd and completely necessary.
The door to Tina’s Place opened three minutes late. I settled at a table in the back of the restaurant, right in front of the television. Judge Judy was on. In the episode, two women were disputing a fender bender in a school parking lot. I’ve long admired Judith Blum, since she presides over the courtroom with such pomp and severity. Before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was co-opted by the feminist movement and entered the pop-consciousness, Judith was the de facto female icon in the realm of Justice.
Judith says things like, “Be quiet,” and “I don’t care,” and “Don’t look at me,” which are not, to my knowledge, legal terms. Her use of language actually makes me question the validity of the courtroom proceedings, in the same way that I question the show To Catch A Predator. Who, other than a desperate actor, would agree to appear on such cut-rate programming?
I ordered the banana pancakes, in hopes that I would get fatigued and fall asleep back at my apartment. I had coffee, too, which was served to me by none other than Tina. It’s worth noting that coffee has no effect on my alertness – after years of caffeine abuse – and might even make me more tired.
I sucked down the coffee and scarfed down the pancakes. The bill was quite reasonable, $7.50 for the whole experience, including Judge Judy. When I walked back past Archie’s and Fine Time, en route to my apartment, the streets were empty. No Cosby talk.
I fell asleep swiftly.