My beloved likes to go out to breakfast on Sunday mornings. I do, too. My beloved prefers to go to his favorite restaurant. I do, too. Unfortunately, our favorites are not the same place. Paul loves to go to our local branch of Cajun Kitchen. It's a quick drive and he likes the food. Neither of us ever orders anything remotely "cajun", but he thinks their breakfast basics--eggs, steak, bacon and especially the hash browns--are superior to other local restaurants. Paul likes the booths, the diner-like atmosphere, and the regulars.
We're not regulars. No one calls us by name, but I like to think that we're not totally unfamiliar faces, either. We have our favorite waitress, a lovely Irish woman, whose lilting accent makes ordinary words a delight. This morning her "toast" was the highlight of our meal. We like to observe, from a distance which prohibits us from hearing their voices, the regulars we find intriguing. The middle-aged man who seeks out fellow customers to engage in loud discussions of sports, and the business owners who meet for breakfast on Sundays to hash out problems in the office. Paul and I keep to ourselves for the most part, reading favorite sections of the newspaper and talking quietly. I doubt that the "regulars" notice us at all.
My favorite breakfast spot is D'Angelo Bakery and Bread in downtown Santa Barbara. I like the food better, especially their delicious wheat toast and homemade marmalade, and I like sitting outside in their side patio. D'Angelo's has regulars, too, but none quite as memorable or flamboyant as the ones at Cajun Kitchen. But the real reason I love it is the delicious coffee--rich double lattes served in traditional wide cups and saucers. They are hand-warming, hefty servings of caffeine--the perfect way to start a Sunday morning.
I stopped ordering coffee at Cajun Kitchen years ago. Their coffee is bitter, flavorless and memorable for all the wrong reasons. I resort to Green Tea when I go there, but in my mind a breakfast without good coffee is a flawed experience. Paul bribes me with the promise a post breakfast visit to Starbucks or now, Zizzo's. It's not quite the same as savoring good coffee with a meal, but it's a reasonable compromise. Compromise, like separate checking accounts, is essential in a good marriage. Maybe the true spirit of compromise doesn't entail keeping track of how many times a concession occurs, but rest assured next weekend we won't be heading to Cajun Kitchen.