Monday, August 29, 2011

213. Meet My Other Man: Pete

Anyone who knows me knows I'm in a committed relationship with brunch. It's my favorite meal of the day. I fell in love with brunch when I moved to New York and discovered "drunk brunch." Drunk brunch usually happened around noon or 1 pm, when we'd all meet up at an Australian join in the Lower East Side called Bondi Road. The food to die for and so were the waiters with their cute Australian accents (most of which I think were authentic). Oh, and the drinks were UNLIMITED. All the mimosas, Greyhounds, and Screwdrivers you could drink, along with random, tasty blue shots the waiters would throw down on your table and walk away with a wink.

We'd all order the Burger with the Lot, which came with meat, cheese, bacon, pineapple, a fried egg, and beets. Sounds awful, I know. But it was the best damn drunken meal a hungover, broke journalist could ask for. We'd drink so much at least one of us would get lost on the way home and another one of us would flush our cell phone down the toilet. (Guilty.)

Brunch in Texas is far different, but it still holds my heart. Drunk brunches are few and far between because we don't have subways here to deliver us, stumbling, back to our 5-story walk ups. We also don't have many restaurants here that offer unlimited drink specials. I've heard of a few places that do bottomless mimosas, but they cost a pretty penny. The best deal I've found is at a place down near the Knox-Henderson area of Dallas where I used to live called Sangria. They serve $1 sangria, and it's damn good.

But there's a little place here in Addison that I've come to love for different reasons: Pete's Cafe. What Pete lacks in alcoholic beverages and Australian accents, it more than makes up for in delicious food and a waitstaff that I can only describe as quirky, quick, and genuinely friendly. And it doesn't hurt that you can order an entire meal and a potential cholesterol problem for $7 or less. We wouldn't have known it existed if we hadn't passed Waffle House on accident once and saw Pete's while making a U-turn. It's a small, yellow building with a dark red roof and a small sign in front that says "Pete's Cafe. Like us on Facebook!"

You know how on FRIENDS they all hang out at Central Perk? And on Seinfeld and Rules of Engagement they always go to the same diner? That's what Pete's was becoming for us, on Sundays at least.

Pete's was the perfect place to kickoff our July 3rd celebration; our 2-years-since-we-met-anniversary. Joyce, Joey, and Rae joined us, and we all squeezed into our usual corner booth. Cayden gawked at the menu.

"There are so many options. I just don't know what to get," he said. "What's good?"

"Pete's Special," we all said in unison. Pete's Special came with eggs, bacon or sausage, pancakes, hashbrown, and toast or a biscuit.

"Oh, and the chicken friend steak is money," Joey added.

"So are the biscuits and gravy," Joyce chimed in.

"And the French toast!" Rae said.

Although I hadn't tried everything on the menu, I was doubtful there was anything I wouldn't recommend.

A tall, thin, tan, older woman approached us with friendly eyes and a deep voice. Not a manly deep voice, but one of those sort of rough voices that end up sounding kind of sexy on a woman? Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks that.

"Coffees all around?" she asked, and we all nodded eagerly.

"And an orange juice!" Joyce said.

"And a chocolate milk," Joey said, bashfully.

We'd all gone to bed early the night before after pigging out on PapaJohn's pizza and watching a Suits rerun (my new favorite show) and Can't Hardly Wait (my long-time favorite movie), so for once, none of us were hungover. Which meant we were all chipper and stomach-ache free. We didn't even have to wear our sunglasses at the table.

"I've never had chicken fried steak. Or biscuits and gravy. So I'm trying both," Cayden decided.

We all struggled to keep the surprised looks off our faces. Did they not have crumpets and gravy over there?

Our waitress came back with steaming cups of coffee, pulp-filled OJ and a tall, chocolatey cup of milk. We ordered half of the menu.

"Two years, huh?" Rae asked from her end of the table.

"Two years," I said, smiling. Cayden squeezed my hand under the table.

"And how many years until Cayden becomes a Texan?" she asked. It was the question we were all wondering. Even Cayden.

"I'm hoping to move over here next year," he said. "A lot of it depends on how much money I can save up, because I'll have to quit my job and come here on a visitor's visa, which means I can only stay three months. Then I'll have to leave the country for a day and I can stay another six months. I'll be job searching that whole time, so I want to save up enough to get by if it takes all six months to land a job."

"And if you don't get hired in that six months?" Joey asked. I winced. This time, it was me squeezing Cayden's hand. It was a question with an unsettling answer. I didn't want to hear it. Neither of us wanted to say it out loud.

I knew the answer. Long story short, if Cayden couldn't find a job, we were fucked. Super fucked. He'd have to go back to the UK jobless. He wouldn't be allowed back in the US for another six months. He'd be near broke. He'd have to start all over. We'd have to start all over. It was a situation neither of us knew if we could handle.

"Then we'd work it out," Cayden said with a reassuring nod. Everyone nodded, as if that answer made all the sense in the world.

I took a large gulp of coffee to try to wash the thought out of my head. Cayden put his arm around me and scooted me closer to him. We'd work it out.

"So, about KaboomTown," Rae said, changing the topic. "Has anyone been?"

"KaboomTown virgin right here," I answered.

"Ditto," everyone else chimed in.

KaboomTown is the big 4th of July bash that takes place in Addison every year. Food, fun, fireworks, live music, the whole shabang. More specifically, it took place in Addison Circle, which just so happened to be where Rae lived. We planned on spending another day poolside before catching the big fireworks show.

Our waitress came back with warm plates heaping with eggs, bacon, chicken fried steak, sausage, biscuits, pancakes, and almost any other breakfast item you can think of. We had so many plates we had to angle them strategically to fit just right.

I stared down at our ridiculous feast and put down my fork.

"Umm, guys?" I said, and everyone looked up from their syruped and buttered plates.
"You know we're going to have to get in a bathing suit after this, right?"

"It's a holiday," Rae said. "Calories don't count on holidays."

"But today's the 3rd, not the 4th," I argued. "Not quite Independence Day yet."

"Right. Today's the 3rd," Rae said. "Your 2-years-since-you-met anniversary. Now dig in!"

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