Friday, 5 April 2013

No Thirteen Year Old Ken


When I was thirteen, my mom and dad asked us if we would like to go to Florida at Christmas.

So, the choice was to stay in cold snowy Toronto and get a load of socks, shirts and underwear wrapped up in festive paper or go to Florida where there was warm weather, girls in bikinis and the very real possibility of meeting some of those girls. My brother and I looked at each other and as one we said “FLORIDA!”

Going to Florida was probably the first real vacation that I had gone on. We spent most of our weekends at the cottage, so I really had no need to go camping or any get back to nature kind of vacation. I did go with a friend fishing for two weeks of hell once, but that is just me. Fishing can be fun I am sure, but for me it just isn't active enough to qualify as a sport or a vacation.

One thing that really sticks in my mind about that first trip to Florida was that not only did I have some money of my own, I was allowed to spend it any way that I saw fit. We stayed at a place called "The Beach Terrace Motel" and just down the beach was one of those really large twenty story hotels. They had their own cabanas and attendants that would chase us riff-raff away if we tried to sit in them. This place had a pool on the second floor and its own restaurant.

It wasn't really a restaurant, but more of a lunch counter. There was seating for maybe ten at the counter and it was here that I had toast and a cherry coke every morning that I didn't have to eat with the family. I would take a book and just sit there watching the cook and the other patrons. One of the things that stood out was that the butter was kept in a metal bowl on the grill and the cook would just take a spoonful to butter my toast. I had never seen that before, but then I didn't go to very many restaurants of any kind.

I mentioned the pool earlier, but what I didn't say is that there was a window from this lunch counter and you could see right into the pools deep end. Sometimes you would see people diving into the pool, sometimes kids would swim down and look at us as we were looking at them, and sometimes there would be a good looking girl swimming laps in the pool. Well, I assumed the girls were good looking but it was pretty hard to tell because of the lighting and the weird magnifying properties of the water.

That lunch counter is my benchmark for judging all breakfast places and has been for most of my life. The food might be better, and the decor may be better, but I will never be thirteen again feeling like an adult for the first time in my life.

There is a place just down the road from us here that has/had the same look as that lunch counter oh so many years ago. It was affiliated with a large hotel complex and even though I knew there was no pool, I thought I might be able to take my book and have my breakfasts there, rekindling memories from way back when. I put my Kobo in my pocket and took a fistful of cash and walked over there knowing that this is the thing that will take our trip from a vacation to a freakin' great vacation!
Well, I am a little disappointed because the place wasn't even open and looking in the window, it doesn't look like the kind of place I would like. There was no counter, no metal bowl full of butter on the flattop, no window with wavy greenish girls swimming by and most of all, there was no thirteen year old Ken.


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