The Cardinal

I have never seen a 24 hour restaurant that packed at 3 am. So full that we had to park in a different parking lot and walk over. (I have also never seen a sausage patty the size of the one that came with my breakfast.) It was people-watching at its best, and then, at it’s worst, which in a way was also the best. There were so many people there, and the atmosphere was so loud that Charlotte, Dee and I were yelling to each other, both to be heard, and because it was late and we were being a little silly.
I saw a cowboy who looked just like Patrick Dempsey, another guy who looked like “Sugardaddy” from the show Popular, several Backstreet Boy rejects, an asian biker with a long gray ponytail- but where the sides shaved so it was sort of a mohawk ponytail- and a “nipplestache” (Charlotte came up with that one. It was a mustache that only grew on the sides of his upper lip and went straight down both sides of his mouth and was so long it came down to about his nipples) who was sitting with this ultra-preppy guy, not good preppy, but like, 1986 Huey Lewis and the News preppy, and a a guy I described as “Dogbert, but human.”
We realized that we were there right after the bars closed, and the restaurant had a bar attached to it, so we figured the restaurant may have been so full because the patrons had spilled over when the bar closed. I was sitting facing the back of the restaurant, which was cool from a people-watching perspective because most everyone had to walk by me to either sit down or pay their bills, and I was able to watch people while appearing to be looking at Charlotte and Dee, though a lot of people had gone by the time we got our food.
Behind me, voices were being raised above the level where they blended into the music and the drone of voices one expects in a restaurant, to where the words were becoming very clear. It was just an exchange of “Fuck you”s and general insults, and then things quieted back down. I figured one of the warring parties was someone who had been on their way out and that that was the end of it.
But about 10 minutes later, the arguing started again- the people who had been arguing were actually seated at neighboring tables. From the noises I could hear behind me, it was getting a little bit physical. Dee and Charlotte were facing the action, doing that whole “trying not to notice” thing, but apparently there was some food flying back and forth. I could hear the manager trying to get between them and kick them out of the place, so I figured things were under control. When the sounds indicated that there was actual fistfighting going on, I didn’t turn around, but Dee and Charlotte started to take more obvious notice.
My hearing is bad enough and the music was loud enough that I didn’t know how close the warring parties were until in the same second I saw feet flying through the air in the general direction of my head, and Dee’s face changed from amusement to horror as she grabbed my hand and said urgently “Judy get up!!” They were at the table and booth right beind us.
I leapt to my feet and took refuge behind Dee’s chair, which put Dee and our table between me and the two bodies crashing onto the tabletop directly behind my chair. The table went over, food and chairs flew everywhere…
One guy’s friend was trying to pull him off without getting up from his booth, sort of leaning off the bench and holding the back of the guy’s shirt as the guy scrabbled at his fighting partner. A patron seated at the counter jumped in and helped the manager pull the other guy off, and once they were apart it seemed like it was diffused. Two girls were like “Take it outside.” I sat back down and the manager came over to make sure that I was all right. I had gotten out of the way, and they hadn’t actually even touched my chair so I would have been fine anyway, so I was more amused than anything.
Seriously, it was like a scene you would see in a movie. When Hugh Grant and Colin Firth had the fight through the Greek restaurant in Bridget Jones’ Diary, I remember thinking that it looked so fake, that people don’t actually fight like that. But wow, apparently they do.
This was an eventful weekend. It wasn’t the “fun” weekend I had planned, though the elements of fun I had expected *were* there. The Hockey game… the board game party yesterday that I had looked forward to for a month… those were the things I expected out of the weekend. The car and the fight… those are the unexpected moments that make life what it is.

3 thoughts on “The Cardinal

  1. Michael

    Man, oh man– The Cardinal! What were you doing over in that part of San Jose, Judy? Yeesh.
    Hee! The Cardinal! Ah, the memories….

  2. Brad

    Ah, the drunken, late-night Denny’s run. Gotta love it! The last time I was in a place like that, there was a creepy old guy pretending to be coming at the girls in my booth with a steak knife. It wasn’t really that funny, so we told him to bug off. But you never know what you’re gonna see.

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