The Medieval Bestseller
I read it somewhere on the Internet...
Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yesterday, after Tracey returned home from work, we set out for lunch at the Maple. As a side note, a curious thing about this portion of the world is that these Pennsylvanians seem to be very keen to title things with "the." For instance, Tracey's church is not a First Presbyterian or even a Westminster Presbyterian but is simply "The Presbyterian Church." Likewise, there's a cafe in Sewickley called "The Cafe." So, we decided to jaunt up to Ambridge to go to "The Maple" for lunch.

When I think of Pittsburgh, I imagine the people and the stores to be a little rough around the edges...gritty. That is not true of Tracey's town, but it is true of Ambridge, and it is definitely true of The Maple. Imagine, if you will, a little hole-in-the-wall type restaurant that has a sign outside it called "Hot Beef Country." Then, when you saunter inside, you're met with a large-ish dining room whereupon you're asked if you want a table in the smoking or non section. A quick glance at the dining room shows you that your answer matters not, as there is simply a flimsy metal ornamental latticework that stands between the two sections. You're seated in a booth that has worn vinyl seats and the plaid wallpaper doesn't quite match the faux stone trim, which doesn't quite match the faux wood of the booth. If you can imagine such a place, you can imagine the Maple. A no-nonsense place with character.

I found myself torn between the cheeseburger and the grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes. In the end I decided to go with the grilled cheese with tomatoes simply because it sounded a bit better (and which other restaurant offers a grilled cheese with tomatoes?). Tracey and I both decided to share fries and we each ordered a diet coke. A bit into our meal, the man who seated us, this elderly man wearing a blue cardigan and black-rimmed glasses came over to the table. He looked at me and my glass of diet coke, where a little less than half of the soda remained. He asked me in a rough-around-the-edges sort of way "Do you want more soda?" I took a second to think about this. Not one to be frivolous with soda refills, I thought that if, perhaps, I conserved I could make it through the rest of the meal without a drink refill. But then I thought, "Well, since he's offering..." So I said yes to the soda refill.

But the man stood there, still staring at me and the drink. Unsure of this turn of events, I looked at Tracey, who looked equally confused. Then I looked back at the man, who sorta motioned an obscure motion to me and I said to him in a rather confused tone, "Well, do you want me to finish it?" The body language I received from him indicated to me that he may as well have answered by saying, "So, you want a refill on your soda? Prove it." So I took the soda into my hands, placed the straw into my mouth, and sucked up the rest of the soda in one swoop, as if my life depended on it and then handed the cup to the man, who took it and shuffled back into the kitchen area.

After a minute or so, he returned to the table with my empty glass. Apparently, the diet coke had run out. He asked me if he could get me a Sprite or maybe a raspberry iced tea, to which I replied that I don't like raspberry iced tea. Fortunately, a waitress rushed up to our table to inform us that someone was going downstairs to change the syrup and it would take two minutes. He turned to me and asked, "Can you wait two minutes?" To which I replied that I could definitely wait two minutes. Eventually a soda was brought back to me, but this time without a straw. I suppose I didn't deserve one after that.

So then after a few minutes the man came back to the table and asked Tracey if she wanted a refill, as her glass was now half-full. She indicated that she would and the man asked her what flavor. She told him it was diet coke, to which he rolled his eyeballs. As she handed him her glass she said, "Please don't make me drink it all."

It was hilarious.

After that encounter, we went for a drive in the city and toured many of the different neighborhoods...Oakland, where Pitt is (and the museums that close super early); Shadyside, where 10,462 rich white people can't be wrong (that saying was on a t-shirt at a store down there); then up to East Liberty where we visited the other PTS, then down to the Whole Foods, where the saffron was $12 cheaper than the markets we had seen it at previously. While we were at Whole Foods, there was also a very cute man working there who made eyes at me. Tracey can attest to this. Mental note to self: New hangout place back home will be Whole Foods, Glendale.

From the Whole Foods, we went back down to Oakland, where we hunted out the rumored Uncle Sam's Classic Subs, which purportedly has the best Philly cheesesteaks in Pittsburgh. Truth be told, they were pretty good and came with fries and a mint. Nice touch. Then we drove to the South Side, right by all of these cool-looking bars and went to this hip, outdoor shopping mall-type area that had a movie theatre. There we saw Martian Child, which I give a firm C-. Don't waste your time.

Today has been a lazy Saturday, which are the best types of Saturdays. After sleeping in late, we've watched a little Ali G, a lot of the Flight of the Conchords, drank some tea and had some cereal.

- Jenny, 11/10/2007 12:12:00 PM

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