On a blustery Saturday morning, I met my old friend at Lucy’s Corner Café. I walked in a little later than he did, and across the chaos that the diner held, I saw him sitting comfortably in a little burgundy booth. His head was leaning against the window, and he held a little white cup of coffee in his left hand.
I stopped for a moment, clogging up the aisle, hearing babies crying behind me and the beginnings of conversations between the customers coming in. I stopped for just a second to capture the moment. I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, and, too, it had been a while since I’d eaten here.
But, some places, and some people, regardless of the frequency I see them, just never get old. It’s comfortable, it’s perfect. His blue eyes mimicked the color of the sky and the walls he leaned up against. The clinking of the plates and the hushed gossip at the next table was somehow like a theme song from a show I used to watch. I knew all the words, and it made a lump in my throat from memories I thought I had forgotten.
I sat down across from my friend, and an enthusiastic waitress came over, asking me if I wanted any coffee. She called me hun. Oh how I do love this place. I got a short stack and eggs — over easy. He got a Denver omelet with jalapenos.
As she walked away, I heard her say to the boy at the next table, “Hunter, you want chocolate milk right?” And the whole morning was like this. Easy, comfortable, homey.
The older couple at the table to my right never spoke. Neither of them had a book, neither of them messed with a phone. They just sat across the booth from each other, with little half smiles on their faces. They didn’t need words. You could tell that they had been together so long, that nothing more needed to be said, their conversations were happening with their eyes.
The booth behind me was filled with raucous laughter. One wore a camo Chiefs hat; the other wore a fisherman’s cap and a plaid jacket. Both dug into their meaty breakfasts and teased one another endlessly.
The waitresses balanced plates from the tips of their fingers to crooks of their elbows. The plates were piled high with steaming pancakes and sizzling bacon. One Direction and Kelly Clarkson played in the back, and I think I saw a cook groove along with the music, even for just a second.
This is why I love this place. It’s not about the food, although it is unbelievably delicious. It’s about the atmosphere. From the second you enter, you leave your shell outside on the Columbia sidewalk. In Lucy’s, you’re more vulnerable. Like the hunting pals, the older couple and the shuffling bus boy, warm in his tan hat, my friend and I fit here.
Lucy’s is a place to down three cups of coffee. It’s a place to get sticky fingers and accidently get syrup in your hair. It’s a place to realize old friends will always know you best.
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes