Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Best Band In Town

Biscuits and gravy by yourself doesn't really taste the same.

For over a decade my Grandpa and I would go and enjoy monthly brunches at a small diner in Layton called One Man Band. I'm sure you've eaten at one of those slop-infested joints before.  A place that hasn't seen a vacuum since the Nixon Administration, doesn't have a single set of matching silverware, and whose napkins come out as giant poofs of air.  Yeah, I'm talking about a hole in the wall that most homeless people would classify as a dump.

But that dump known as One Man Band was our hole in the wall.

The great thing behind One Man Band was that there was literally only one man that ran the entire show. He took your orders, he cleaned up your tables, he undercooked your pancakes, everything. Heck, to place orders we had to pick up the phone in our booth and "call-in" what we wanted. So what if that one man was standing ten feet away from us in the open kitchen, making the usage of the phone a complete waste of time, it was all about the experience. And that's what made me L-word the place.

Those brunch sessions were ours, no one else's. My little sister once got jealous when my Grandpa politely declined her request to tag along. One Man Band wasn't for her, it was just for us. It was the place where he would tell me about the time he won the YMCA basketball National Championship with four of his fellow Air Force recruits. Or when he was claimed to be the luckiest reconnaissance pilot in Vietnam who flew an extra 106 missions than he was supposed to. Or when he played golf on a course made of nothing but sand traps while working security in Saudi Arabia.

Those stories certainly made our meals so much better.

I miss that tradition. I miss the cream cheese omelets and plastic-tasting tap water. I miss the clock shaped like Elvis that would hang on the wall above us, his hips swinging in motion to count down the seconds. I miss asking my Grandpa when he first realized that his high school girlfriend was the one he was going to marry, and then recounting the stories of his life to me over ketchup-covered hash browns and English muffins.

The harsh truth is that those memories aren't happening anymore. They are in the past. They have ended. Stopped. Deceased. One Man Band down the street was bought out by some C-average pizza chain, and diabetes decided to shut my Grandpa's body down a little over a year ago. But that's life I guess. All great things we cherish have a terminal shelf life.  
Yesterday while driving down the same Interstate I have lived on for the last three years of my life, I spotted that old hole in the wall on the side of the road in Nephi. It was dusty, it was 50's themed, and it had the same Elvis clock hanging on the wall whose hips were shaking on cue.  And so I decided to pick up that phone and order a plate of scrambled eggs and French toast, in an attempt to recreate those memories with my Grandpa once more.

But it wasn't the same. And you know why?

Because he wasn't there.

I understand those meals with my Grandpa at One Man Band really don't mean a single thing to you, that's fine. But then again, you've had meals with someone else, or card games, or road trips, or workout sessions, or anything else that means something to you and means diddly squat to everyone else. And those are some of the most important things you hold on to when times get tough. At least that's what those meals at One Man Band mean to me.

One day I'll have a grandson. And one day I'll have a grime-infested diner to go to like One Man Band. And one day I'll share stories with the kid about the time I killed a dragon, the time I wore a mohawk, the time I sliced my head open, and the time I met his Grandmother.

And one day those roles will change again.  And a young man I helped raise will be sitting with his own grandson.  Telling his own stories.  In his own One Man Band.

What do you think?


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