|Photo found here: http://www.droold.com/i/236-Crazy-Egg-Pancake-Fryers|
The cozy breakfast diner had at least one hungry customer at every table, except for the empty booth in the back corner, which thankfully, is the usual place I look to in hopes I might be sat for quiet solitude and maximum people viewing potential. It was mine.
I had no idea when waking that morning, that while hacking away at my buckwheat pancakes and guzzling down my dangerously caffeinated self-brought English tea, I’d be witness to many people’s personal nightmare.
As my husband sat across from me, relaying behind-the-scenes war stories of working in film and television, I noticed two uniformed police officers enter the dining room and were headed straight to the back of the restaurant. I was no longer listening. They were headed straight for us.
“This is it,” I thought. My time was up—they’d finally found me. I was to be immediately extradited to my far off no-longer-secret originating planet, or they’d been on my trail for years as I continually checked out books from the library on communism, secret societies, and Area 51. Or perhaps they’d been observing my frequent viewings of online documentaries on the effects of LSD, who killed JFK?, and those ultra-fabulous Linda Evangelista make-up tutorials. I knew they’d catch up to me one day—I know too much.
Just short of reaching our table, it was as if the earth simply stopped. The chattering ceased, and only slow motion body movements commenced. A mother grabbed her little girl and held her head in her arms whilst her face exhibited surprise and fear. Heads were turning towards the walls, as if humans in this brief moment were instinctually displaying the calming signals animals give when they fear for their lives.
A matte black pistol appeared and was slowly being raised up above the head of a young man, over the trembling mother and daughter, just behind my husband. The weapon was now in the hands of a police officer. And the room was silent. Time stood still.
Slowly, and quietly, the young previously-armed man left the restaurant with the officers. His friends continued to eat, though they avoided any eye contact with fellow diners. The chatter was resucitated and the feeding frenzy restored.
Why are they still here? Did that really just happen?
I apologized to my husband for not giving him my full attention, quietly filled him in on what had just occurred just feet away from behind his back, shoved a few too-large chunks of pancakes into my mouth, then in walked the young, previously unarmed man, with his gun in plain sight, tucked into his baggy, sagging pants.
"What happened to the officers?" I thought.
The no-older-than-nineteen now-armed man began to ask others sitting near him, including the woman who feared for her daughter’s life, “Who told on me? Why did you report me? It’s my right! This is for my protection!”
As if they were going to say anything to further anger him.
Great. And I’m now stuck in the back corner. Nowhere to run.
He returned to his plate and the room settled once again.
Forks irritatingly scraping plates accelerated, and finally, Mr. “Lay off my plate or I’ll shoot” and his small pancake-eating posse left the restaurant.
My husband and I wondered aloud, “Whom was this guy running from? Is this form of ‘protection’ needed when dining in a family restaurant? Is the breakfast burrito that good?”
His right under law or not, my logic stricken brain came to a conclusion: if I didn’t feel safe in a family restaurant and resolved to require a weapon in order to enjoy scrambled eggs out on the town, I'd likely stay home and scramble my own eggs. And if by chance I'd run out of eggs and lost my ability to cook for myself, I'd make use of a holster. And a bad-ass one at that.