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Date night at the diner

When it comes to life in the fast lane, my wife, Sue, and I are on the side of the road with a flat tire. That's why we can't make it to the airport to fly to some exotic locale like the Greek islands.

But on a recent Saturday night, we did the next best thing and drove to the hottest spot in a city that never wakes: the diner.

This one is owned by a very nice guy named Gus, who was born in Greece.

"Tell me when you want to go and I'll tell you where to go," Gus said.

"People are always telling me where to go," I responded.

"I mean," Gus clarified, "I'll suggest the best places to visit when you and your wife go to Greece."

"Greece is the word," I said, doing him and everyone else in the place a big favor by not singing for my supper.

Instead, Sue and I ordered it from a menu with enough delicious selections to turn me into Zezima the Greek, even though I'm Italian and, according to a DNA test, Martian.

"Would you like anything to drink?" our waiter, Michael, asked pleasantly.

"I'll have a Corona," Sue replied.

"There's no smoking in here," I told her.

"Not a cigar," Sue said with a sigh. "A beer."

Michael dutifully wrote it down, then asked me, "And you, sir?"

"I'll have a Blue Moon," I said.

When Michael returned with our brews, I said, "We don't go out too often. In fact," I added, holding up my bottle, "it's only once in a "

"Blue moon!" Michael exclaimed with a laugh. "I got it!"

"Please," Sue said. "Don't encourage him."

I couldn't be discouraged from ordering a jumbo burger with bacon, fries, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, cole slaw and, the piece de resistance (I speak fluent Greek), a pickle.

"I'm really in a pickle now," I told Michael, who laughed again (I think he wanted a generous tip, which he deserved) and took Sue's order, which was the same as mine, minus the bacon.

"Date night at the diner," she said with a smile after the burgers arrived. "Isn't it romantic?"

"Umph, umph, umph," I replied with a mouthful of food.

The burgers were cooked to perfection by Carlo, whom I later visited in the kitchen.

"My wife doesn't like the way I cook burgers because they end up like hockey pucks," I said.

"I don't play hockey," said Carlo, who added that his wife likes the way he cooks everything.

"Customers like it, too," said a waitress named Margaret. "I've worked in places where I didn't eat. The food here is fresh and delicious."

That was evident by the gluttony of the family sitting next to us. Some of them ordered porterhouse steaks the size of anvils.

"That's my favorite item on the menu," Gus told me. "I could eat one every day."

"So could I," I said, "but I want to keep my boyish figure."

When Sue and I were done, Michael, who is Gus' nephew, returned and asked Sue if she wanted a doggy bag for the half-burger she couldn't finish.

"Yes, please," she said.

I had only a leaf of iceberg lettuce left.

"I don't think I'll take it home," I said. "It could be dangerous."

"Why?" asked Michael.

"Because," I explained, "an iceberg sank the Titanic."

He laughed again, earning a $10 tip for a meal that came to $32.

"You spare no expense for me, dear," Sue said sweetly after I also paid for a baklava for her to take home.

"Let me know when you want to go to Greece," Gus said.

"I will," I replied. "And the next time we go out on a hot date, we're coming back to the diner."

- Jerry Zezima

Jerry Zezima writes a humor column for Hearst Connecticut Media Group and Tribune News Service. He is the author of four books.

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