Because they’re not really bald


eagle's plume

eagle's plume


My sister was holed up in her bedroom, recovering from back surgery, and the rest of us were hanging out in the kitchen, playing Apples to Apples while a turkey soup coalesced on the stove. The word to match was “smooth.” Those unfamiliar with the game should know that it works by one player, the judge, putting down an adjective card, and the other players looking at their hands of noun cards, with the goal finding a card the judge will think is the closest match. The winner gets the adjective card, and the next player is the judge for the next hand. One winds up aiming for what they think the judge will pick, not what they themselves would match up. Obvious playcating, like putting up “Canadians,” for the adjective, “brave,” when Susanne is the judge, won’t fare one very well. The game lends itself toward advocating for your noun card so the judge at least can see your logic. Conversations can get a little odd with all the lobbying, but apparently, this is a selling point for the game.

Okay, so the card was “smooth.” I had bubkus in my hand, and couldn’t decide between the following:

The 1970s


Mardi Gras

David Hasselhoff

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

I thought and thought and thought, and I had nothing, so I slapped down the Mardi Gras card just to get rid of it. A number of seconds later everyone else had put down their card, and then the conversation went like this:

Jamie (my 13-year old niece, who was the judge this turn): Um, bald eagle? They’re not smooth.

Michael (my best buddy): Sure they are.

Susanne (my honey): Well, they’re not really bald.

Michael: They’re smooth, really.

Jamie: Uh…

Michael (in defense of his position): They have plumes. They’re smooth.

At this point, the table erupted in laughter. “Plumes” became the Pee-Wee Hermanesque word of the weekend, with my nieces trying to get Michael to say the word every 20 minutes or so. He even recorded the word on Jamie’s cell phone.

Honestly, a 13-year old with a cell phone is like an old lady with a Cadillac DeVille — you just wonder when you’ll hear the acceleration and crash in the background. But for now, she has constant access to “plume.”

Susanne, Michael, and I headed down to DC a few days later, and I cajoled them into pulling off the Turnpike at the Bordentown exit so that we could go to one of my best-loved restaurants on the planet, Mastori’s. This establishment has grown since my parents and I ate there in the 80s, and now features 5 large separate eating rooms.


Mastori's restaurant front door

Mastori's restaurant front door

Now then, for people from New Jersey, diners are a fact of life, and from the day a child can read, we verse ourselves in how to interpret and understand one of the most difficult texts in US culture, the diner menu. I am not kidding — there must be 300 choices of things one could order, everything from the boring and standard chicken tenders, to the nearly high-class dishes like veal scallopini, and absolutely everything in between.

For example, Mastori’s menu looks like this:


Easy to choose menu

Easy to choose menu

Exacerbating the sheer number of choices is the 7-point font, the daily specials list, and the menu items the server only tells you about in person. It is literally mind-numbing.

Somehow, some way, we figured out what to order. It was a blur, actually. I tried to find a way to get Michael to say “plume,” but he was having none of it, being rather plumed out. Mastori’s failed us a little, with slow service not common to the establishment. Perhaps they’ve grown too big to remember where all of the tables are. Out on the terrace, we did seem to be in another ZIP code.

But then again, there’s nothing like a pizzaburger to make me feel like I’m back in my home state.

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Categories: driving, visiting


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4 Comments on “Because they’re not really bald”

  1. Alexis
    January 8, 2009 at 11:28 am #

    Didn’t we all go to Mastoris for my 16th birthday? I think we did.

    We don’t have actual diners out here. Sure, there are a few buildings with the word “Diner” on the front, but it’s just to trick you.

    We do, however, have Ludwig’s corner Oyster Bar. Not as great for a hangover as a diner though.

  2. evmaroon
    January 8, 2009 at 5:02 pm #

    Yup, we sure did. And I went to another diner, the Golden Dawn III, after prom. They were places to go for regular eating and for special occasions, weren’t they?
    Interesting you don’t have any real diners, since you’re in the general region for them, but they still know to call it a diner, like the word has cache out there, even if individual owners have no idea what a diner in New Jersey actually is….

  3. Alexis
    January 8, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    Ah, the prom. Yes, I wouldn’t know about that as you stole my date, remember?

    How is good ole what’sisname nowadays anyway?

  4. Alexis
    January 8, 2009 at 5:43 pm #

    ps – Yes, I did get another date, and no, I’m not bitter. Mostly just amused at this point, but we ended up not hanging out after the prom despite that fact that your senior prom and my junior prom were on the same night.

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