June 19, 2005

That Coffee Shop in Skokie

I so loved being able to tell my husband's relatives that I was meeting with a client while in the Chicago area. It made me feel so grown-up. In fact, we were in town for my niece's graduation, and I met with B. because I was there that particular week, while I was still looking through the materials she'd sent. Had we lived in the same city, the meeting would have occurred two weeks later.

It's okay, though: I warned her in advance that I might not have anything too intelligent to say, but wanted to get some specifics from her about what her goals are, so I could formulate my plans around that. Essentially, I was going to have more questions than answers.

The day Attila the Hub and I arrived in Skokie, we had dinner across the street from the Holiday Inn at a coffee shop called Jack's, which was a 24-hour restaurant during my husband's youth. He'd landed there with his friends many times after some hard drinking. We were both exhausted, and we knew once our bellies were full we'd simply go back to the hotel and read ourselves to sleep.

My kind of coffee shop: not only does it serve breakfast anytime, but it's got latkes and blintzes, just like the West Coast delis. They took care of us, and we staggered back to the hotel to crash.

Several days later, I was there with B. I'd picked the restaurant partly because I knew I could just walk there, and I therefore wouldn't have to take the rental car, in case my husband might need it.

B. drove all the way out from Deerfield, so I decided it was a "consultation," and I was definitely off the clock. But we both had our notebooks out, and we kicked around some ideas for promoting her project. I continued to compile an action list, and then the food was placed in front of us. The notebooks went off to the side of the table for a moment, and then our waitress appeared.

"I just want to request that you have enough respect for yourselves to stop working for five minutes and eat your food, because cold food sucks."

B. and I sort of blink, but we see that it's a good idea and we clear our notebooks off the table. The woman nods approvingly, and tells us she'll be checking on us.

We continue to kick ideas around as we eat. Because I'm the world's slowest eater, B. finishes first and her papers appear back on the table. Suddenly our waitress is at our side.

B. looks up at her. "I'm finished," she explains.

"But she isn't," the waitress proclaims, pointing to me. Of course, I'm in terrible danger of giggling, because I think the woman from Jack's is being sweet and funny at the same time.

"You see," explains the waitress, "when you take proper meal breaks you can think more clearly, and then you make more money."

B. hides her notebook again, and I take a few more bites. When the waitress comes back, I've pushed my plate away and we're both furiously taking notes again. She starts to collect the plates, and sees me smiling up at her. "What are you laughing at?" she asks in mock rage. "And don't tell me you're laughing with me."

I just shake my head, because I never say I'm laughing with people; it's a cop-out. But my eyes twinkle, and she smiles back as she whisks the plates away.

B. insists on picking up the tab, and I declare that in that case I'm leaving the tip. And I make sure it's a good one.

Posted by Attila at June 19, 2005 10:21 AM | TrackBack

Jack's was OK, but for real late-night drunken dining in the late 1980s there was nothing on the Northside like Dewey's. Steak and eggs with a little cigarette ash dusted on top served by a scowling ex-con. What could be better!

Posted by: Prof. Purkinje at June 19, 2005 10:55 AM

Very little. Very little.

Thanks for stopping by!

BTW: the niece wants to move either to Phoenix or Evanston. Frankly, I think Phoenix would be great, because the cost of living is low, and there's a good boho/arts community there, so she could make jewelry while she decides whether to go to graduate school.

Attila the Hub brainstormed with her, and pointed out that a friend of his learmed to deal blackjack at Indian casiinos to fill a career gap, so there are all kinds of possibilities.

Posted by: Attila Girl at June 19, 2005 11:04 AM

Feenix? Feenix?! Pah! That's a cesspool almost as deep as LA.

Posted by: Desert Cat at June 19, 2005 11:16 PM

Keep in mind that my sister-in-law lives there (Mary McCann, the former radio DJ), and we love the idea that there will be a responsible adult around she can turn to if something comes up (other than her Polish relatives, who tend to smother her just a bit).

And L.A.'s cost of living is so high. Also, it only respects some types of art, and others get short shrift. In the Phoenix art community, handcrafts are more respected—like writing is here in L.A.

Also, she'll be seven hours away from us (5 1/2 - 6 if my husband lets me drive). So that's handy for Christmases.

Posted by: Attila Girl at June 19, 2005 11:37 PM

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