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I’ve been here before. Many times.

In the early 2000’s, I co-owned a business 2 blocks from the Midtown II Diner on 11th and Sansom Streets in downtown Philadelphia and I got to know the “Midtown” for many a breakfast.

The place was always a showcase providing a cross-section of the people of this city. Customers from all walks of life including doctors from nearby Jefferson Hospital to medical students, tourists, business folks and a few of the many vagrants who would stop in to get a cup of warm coffee on a cold winter’s day. The waitresses always looked harder than a brick wall but could take your order, crack a joke and smoke a cigarette faster than the blink of an overly mascara’d eye. No frills, no silk linens, all real and all good.

I hadn’t been here since moving several years ago out into the quiet, homogenous, and beige suburbs about an hour away from the city’s magnificent confusion.

It was great to be back in town… if only for one glorious day.

Our waitress, Patty, was cheerful with a well-worn photo of her two blond grandsons embedded within her pad. Breakfast was timely, the coffee real hot and the lighting a little too bright as Daryl and I thoroughly enjoyed beginning our day in the city at this Philadelphia staple. We commented to Patty about her excellent service to which she replied thanks and asked if we liked that our toast was buttered completely to the corners of the bread.

As I finished the last of my fried potatoes (I STILL have yet to find anything close to their perfection, ANYwhere) my mind wandered to a Mother’s Day after midnight back in 2002. I remember enjoying a late night/early morning snack at Midtown after one of my favorite bars had closed for the evening. I was sitting in my booth as all the waitress “Mothers” of the diner raised shot glasses from the well-worn counter at the front of the diner and toasted to “motherhood” with a shot of straight vodka. All of us in the diner clapped and cheered. Those ladies were quite frankly, the shit.