Thursday, March 03, 2005

The comments on my last post inspired this one. I was reminded of a little episode from my college days.

There was a place in our neighborhood called Tom's Restaurant. It was the setting for Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner" (or the re-mix with DNA), and the exterior served as an establishing shot for the diner in Seinfeld. (Though the interior was filmed on a sound stage on Warner Bros. studios in beautiful downtown Burbank.)

Late one night, my friend and I went in to that 24-hour joint, amid our bar-hopping, desperately in need of rehydrating. We weren't gonna just ask for some water, so we went to the counter and ordered big glasses of OJ. Might as well get some vitamins and potassium to prevent that hangover in the morning.

The man behind the counter muttered something to a waiter. Pardon the cliche, but it was all Greek to me. A moment later, I learned what he had said was, "These damn rich college kids come in here and all they order is orange juice."

How did I know? I was whispered a translation by my friend --Ted Papadopoulos, who was born in Athens, but his family moved to New Jersey when he was five.

Ted told the man, "Don't worry, we'll be back in the morning for a huge breakfast." Except he said it in Greek, and we watched the guys turn redder than the ketchup bottles they were consolidating.

We all dined at Tom's lots of times during those college years. The food was good, and the staff was actually pretty nice. Especially since -- thanks to Ted -- we avoided any secret smack talk at my big fat Greek setting.


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