Sunday, June 07, 2009

Near Reno, Nevada is the town of Sparks. It used to be a nothing sort of town but I'm sure now it's huge and important with golf courses and housing divisions with the word "Estates" in them.

Years ago on a solo road trip I found myself in Sparks. I'm still not sure why. There was a little diner there. Place called "Edna's" or "Ethel's" or some such name. ("Ed"s?) I driven all night from the Bay Area and found myself there at about 10 am, eating silver dollar pancakes and drinking coffee from a mug with a picture of a cow on it. All there coffee mugs had cows on them. There was nothing other cow-themed in the place. No photos. No cow creamers. Just the mugs with the cows. Must have gotten a deal on them.

The pancakes were as light and fluffy as brake pads, but as I hadn't eaten since lunch the day before I didn't particularly care. I ate them at the chipped counter where Saturday morning cartoons played on the overhead TV and I could watch the cooks dance orders around the grill. The waitress had bright red lipstick, the kind that went out of style before I was born, and had fingernails with polka dots painted on them. The guy sitting next to me looked like a biker, but he was reading The New Yorker and shared with me a cartoon that made him laugh featuring two goldfish in a bowl taking about passing an interview with the co-op board. He also asked me if I knew who Charles Bukowski was and if I had any gum. (I did, and I didn't.)

After breakfast I walked down the block to a grocery store where I bought a 6-pack of Coke, a bag of Ruffles, and some aspirin. I remember passing a guy in really ugly brown suit who had a shopping cart loaded with Hungry Man dinners and generic vodka. Finally someone who was having a worse day than I.

I got into my car, which didn't have air conditioning. It was still morning but it was already about 90 degrees. I popped open one of the lukewarm cokes and prepared to leave Sparks. Turning my radio I found, oddly enough, a station playing Chopin and preluded my way out of town, heading toward Tahoe.

I've never been back to Sparks. Never felt the need.

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