Wednesday, June 22, 2016
I was in the Financial District, and happened to pass along Pearl. Resisting the diner is simply impossible, so I headed on in for a late lunch breakfast. The middle-of-the-day crowd had thinned, and I snagged the front booth, right by the cashier's booth & offering views of both street & diners. The same old order: eggs-over-easy, hash & home fries, whole wheat toast & coffee. To hell with the diet - some things in life are way more important. I order the eggs that way to celebrate again my first days in the city, and thirty years or more on I still savor the pleasure of saying those three words out loud. Eggs. Over. Easy. As good as ever.
There was no rush by now - a statuesque lady, dining alone, lingered long beyond the check's arrival. Other diners, meals over, dawdled & spun out their time at the cashier's station. The purple-lipped cashier was cute. After the her shift ended, the owner took her spot & talked at length about the nightmare of Sandy damage, and the practical pointlessness of insurance. His words brought back memories. Quite by chance, I had eaten here the first day after the diner reopened, in February, 2013.
The Pearl Diner is one of those institutions that restores the anxious New Yorker's confidence in the city. Everything's right again. The seasoned staff, the looks of the place- the counter, the booths, the glorious vertical neon sign. The cramped comfort of a small space & the pleasing regularity of menu. And the customers - a motley assembly of singles, couples, office workers. Nobody glamorous or especially attractive, many middle-aged or elderly, some decidedly wilted by the summer heat, but everybody beautiful. This is the company I'd keep.