Dispatches from Suburbia

If I played an instrument, I would have a band called "The Simon Thomsen Sex Tape"; and other musings, rants, and disconnected ramblings.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Blast From The Past

Quote of the Day: "Nothin' so nifty/as food fun and fifties/ at YesterDave's!/ Yum! Yum!"
-theme from YesterDave's Diner commercials.

I got my first job when I was 14 as a busboy at a local fifties-themed restaurant called YesterDave's. Fifties-themed diners are a dime a dozen, but they're still fun. This one had a DJ booth, a soda fountain, and hostesses who wore poodle skirts and called you "hon."

One of these hostesses, I swear, was bound and determined to take my virginity. She often sent me home, beaming, with lipstick on my cheek. At the time I was pretty proud, being a young man with an older girl (she was in her twenties) hanging off of me and telling everybody how darned cute I was. In hindsight, I now find her actions a tad predatory. Not that it matters--nothing ever went further than a kiss on my cheek. At the time, though I definitely enjoyed the attention, this sex kitten certainly scared the hell out of me.

I was trained by Josh, another busser who, like me, stayed with the restaurant until it finally closed. Theme restaurants are often cursed--the novelty wears off and people lose interest, and YesterDave's was no exception. I was there for three years, and during that time I branched out by working at the soda counter, on the kitchen line, and even as a dishwasher before the restaurant closed it's doors and we all said our tearful goodbyes.

Fast forward to today. I still work in restaurants (that is, hopefully, until I graduate one year from now) as a line cook. Recently, I was surprised to see Josh, the guy that trained me in my very first job, applying as a cook. After YesterDave's closed, he'd gone on to father a child, get married, get divorced, and put on a surprising amount of weight. For some reason, I found this very disconcerting.

I've been with this current restaurant for over a year now, and because of this I am a certified trainer. All this jargon basically means that I am now Josh's trainer.
This whole story is thick with irony. Here I am, training the guy who originally trained me in a restaurant meant to maintain the innocence and naivety of the fifties, a restaurant inevitably forced to close because people's tastes change. People themselves change, though I don't think any of us YesterDave's employees every quite grasped that until the official announcement that YesterDave's was, in fact, closing. It remindes me of a Smith's lyric: "Time's tide will smother you."

Anyway, it feels as if Josh, who was still in high school when he trained me, has lived an entire lifetime and undergone one phase after another since working in that time capsule for however many years. I wonder how he sees me. Have I changed as much as he has? My nostalgia for a decade I've never actually experienced hasn't, and therefore I still have a deep fondness for YesterDave's diner.

Now, I despise the owner of YesterDave's, but when I worked there I loved the place. I couldn't get enough of it. I'd come in even when I wasn't working. I'd hang out and somehow feel important.

I loved everything about that cheesy diner--the jukeboxes, the dark red bar, the stainless steel of my first ever kitchen job, the vinyl booths that made a fart sound whenever somebody sat in them, and the floozy in the poodle skirt that left lipstick on my innocent cheek nightly.


At 2:15 PM, Blogger snowfly606 said...

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At 2:33 PM, Blogger thethinker said...

Great story.

Your description of YesterDave's reminds me of a diner called Johnny Rockets. I don't know if you've ever been there but they've got great food.

At 2:36 AM, Blogger ShadowFalcon said...

There is a real 50's diner that was importated years ago in the subburbs of London, it called Starvin Marvin, complete iwth original jukebox and chrome I've been deperate to try it!

At 3:46 AM, Blogger JR's Thumbprints said...

I agree, theme restaurants get kind of boring after awhile. There's a chain of "Dick's Last Resorts" down south--their shtick is to be rude to all the customers. For some reason people find this hilarious and keep going back for more.

At 1:29 PM, Blogger Danny Tagalog said...

Watch out! - the floozy may be the next one you re-train.


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