I went to dinner with my father and my boyfriend Colby in West Hollywood. Restaurants in Los Angeles county are graded in an academic style by the Health Department, and it is required that the grade received is placed boldly in a window, facing the street: A is what you would want and expect for food preparation, B is what you would want and expect but sometimes a cockroach runs over the silverware, C opens the possibility that loose fecal matter runs over the silverware, and unlike in New York, no restaurant can stay open that is dirtier than that.
Although we had been on our way to a Lebanese restaurant in Thai Town, I had instead insisted on a "continental" restaurant in West Hollywood because it is close to our apartment and because I love it. Whereas the mention of mung beans in New York is followed by the phrase, "fuckin' hippies," or a joke about Hari Krishnas, this restaurant dresses the mung in something delicious and excitedly places them in an attractive light; a similar light to the one that shines upon clear skin and firm stools and other signs of good living.
When my father and his girlfriend Mia had first moved to Los Angeles, we went to this restaurant regularly and it was an A. It was dropped to a B sometime later, and in retaliation, the restaurant closed and remodeled the kitchen. It reopened to an A, then was given a B, at which point Mia, whose heart had had enough, swore never to eat there again. Upon my arrival to West Hollywood last week, the restaurant had a big blue A in its window.
A few days ago I did a Google search for "filthy restaurant" and came to the CitySearch page for a Denny's in Miami. Beneath the Denny's phone number and a map of its immediate neighborhood were a string of User Comments on this specific location. The comments were what had attracted Google. "Ususally FILTHY with horrible service," read the first comment. "Only good for the wee hours when people are too inebriated to notice the FILTH." Another read: "I definitely do not recommend. The couple times my friends and I have gone to Denny's the service is terrible and the food is really unpleasant. There are better places to have breakfast than this one."
It was then that the people who work there began to post. "Good food at a good price," one wrote; "most servers in miami are rude, but this dennys is different!" exclaimed another; one post went so far as to recommend the ambience. If I hadn't considered that employees were dominating the message board, the comment, "grand slam is an excellent value and also filling and delicious," would have given me suspicion. [The Grand Slam is $5.99 and has 1128 calories, which is almost two calories per penny, which is kind of a score.]
Lucky enough to not live in Miami and to not have seen a Denny's in years, Colby, my father, and I sat down to a high-fiber, grade A dinner. Each of us was dressed as we normally are: Colby had a plaid shirt buttoned up with a tie; my father in an American Eagle tee shirt that had somehow evaded Mia's quest to dispose his collection of American Eagle tee shirts; and I was wearing shiny, white, spandex pants.
Looking through the menue, I was reminded that I also love the restaurant for their use of organic vodka in the drinks, which Mia and I would assert fucks us up more than normal vodka. The only one to drink, I ordered a greyhound [vodka with grapefruit juice]. The greyhound had begun to cloud my brain when I felt a hand on my arm.
"I love your legs," whispered a raspy voice directly into my ear. When I turned to look, I caught sight of an old woman as she hurried toward the exit.
"Thanks, shorty," I said reflexively.
"What just happened?" asked Colby.
"I don't know," I shrugged. "I thought that was a gay guy."
"She said, 'I love your tights'?"
"No, 'I love your legs.' Something about that being an old woman made it filthy."
Still, it was the kind of filth through which I maintain an appetite.
Lyle Lovett -- Stand By Your Man [cover]