[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=diner&iid=217850″ src=”http://view4.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/217850/thinkstock-single-image/thinkstock-single-image.jpg?size=500&imageId=217850″ width=”234″ height=”351″ /]

Please tell me I’m too tired to be reading this text correctly. Please tell me it says the entire rain forest burned down to nubs. But no, it’s clear—our hometown Jersey diner is on fire!

My brother, living in the Midwest, found out from his NJ girlfriend. He then texted me, living in the South, first thing in the (his) morning. I had just gotten to work, and between his texts and my sneaky Internet browsing I was relieved to finally learn that no one was hurt, the fire was out before (my & NJ’s) 9:30am, and the damage seems to be confined to the roof.

Meanwhile, my mom, living within smoke distance, blissfully slept, since, being way past retirement age, she can resume her night person/sleep late nature. I called her late in the morning with news that her favorite chicken dish would be something to look 

Photo courtesy of PicApp


forward to in a couple of months. I called my sister in Florida, and we both worried about singed Linzer tarts and smoked Baklava.

In Jersey, your diner is yours wherever you relocate. It’s where we’d all get eggs and coffee at 3 am to laugh about things like how that guy really believed that 645-1196 was my phone number. It’s where my sisters (unfortunately I missed this outing) put so many quarters in the jukebox to play Loudon Wainwright III’s Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road that management unplugged the sound system. (Which reminds me, after this burnt roof thing gets taken care of, the diner owes them $6.75.) It’s where you can order anything from a place that has too many choices. You know you can’t ever pick what you’d really want because you could never have enough time to read the whole menu, but whatever you do pick is delicious, fresh, quickly served, and too much to eat. It’s a place with a social atmosphere all its own. When I went back a few years ago, my daughter asked where I knew our server from. I told her I had just met her when she took our order. My daughter didn’t believe me; she thought the server was my long-lost best friend. That’s how it is in a Jersey diner.

I miss you. I’ll see you again next time I’m up there. I’m glad you’re going to be OK.