Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fishies love the Mexican hat dance

My walk to the clinic this afternoon took me by the Charlestown Street Cafe. Like Husky Deli, the Charlestown is a West Seattle institution. It's popular with old-timers, I think, and also with families who go there for brunch after church. So I've never been there.

The restaurant has been in the news lately because there's a plan on the books to tear it down and put up a Petco pet store. Save-our-neighborhood protesters have been organized and media-savvy; even the P-I wrote about them. It occurred to me, as I walked by, that I should sample this legendary place once before it becomes a big fish tank, so I stopped for a late lunch.

Immediately I was not very impressed. It was a weird, mid-shift time, around 3 o'clock, and there weren't many customers -- several retired couples, a few stragglers. I was seated in a smallish, sort of back room, behind a frog-faced woman and her 20-ish daughter and across from a couple of strapping middle-aged guys and an old man in a beige cardigan who might have been the talkative guy's father.

A young waitress came over and asked if I wanted something to drink. I hadn't looked at the menu yet but I knew I wanted to try one of the Charlestown's celebrated breakfasts so I asked for grapefruit juice. "I don't think we have that," she said. Then, before I could switch up to orange juice she asked what size grapefruit, small or large, and when I said large she spun around and headed off. Strange. A few minutes later she came back with a large grapefruit juice.

"I'd like two eggs over easy, please," I said. But my waitress said "I'm not your server," and turned around again and walked away.

Ok then, whatever. I had my book, the one Mom doesn't like, and my iPod. I could wait. The server, whoever she or he was, was taking a long time to appear, and bits of the other diners' conversations started seeping through my Patti Smith mix.

The three men were talking in hushed tones about some big business deal, possibly construction, possibly even the plan to rip this place apart. I heard the words percentage, margin and million, and finally the old man interrupted the long-winded son.

"Two percent? No way would I settle for 2 percent. Just hold out!"

Eventually a high-school-looking girl came over to take my order: eggs over easy, which came with delicious red potatoes and an english muffin. Nothing remarkable about any of it, except the potatoes which were darn good.

As I was finishing my meal, the woman and her slightly less froggy daughter got up to leave. "One of the best things about getting accepted in the Peace Corps," the girl was saying, "would be not having to see Jason or Dad for 26 months." They hopped off.

All in all, an OK breakfast/lunch, but not worth protesting to save. Couple of lackluster gliomas at most.

Besides, what's so horrible about a brand-new Petco? The old Petco could move down California from its prime location in the Junction, and maybe we could get a new Starbucks there, across from the Husky Deli. That would rock.

Sure, Petco's a chain, and a chain slinging a product I don't care about, but I've had a soft spot for it ever since we were driving with the girls from Seattle to L.A. five or six years ago, and Gina saw one of their stores and improvised a little song:

Petco Supplies and Fish
Petco Supplies and Fish
Fishies loooove the Mexican hat dance
What am I .... talking about?
I don't knowwwww ... what I'm talking about.
Petcohhhhh, supplies and fish.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Man. Classic Peace Corps quote.