Monday, February 23, 2004

The Opposite of Nostalgia

Fridays Kate and I do lunch at Little David's, which is a sandwich shop two doors down from the H&R Block main office on Meeker, in Kent. It makes a realy good Philly Cheese Steak (with peppers) and serves Ivar's clam chowder. But that's not the main reason why we come back.

The decor is pure post-war America. Fifties and early Sixties. Groucho and Marilyn and James Dean on photos on the wall. Old albums that you remember from your parents' collection. Laminated pages from Life, Look, and the Saturday Evening Post. Publicity stills from Bonanza and the Dick Van Dyke show. Vaughn Meader and the First Family. The Fabulous Limelighters. Old Hazel cartoons. Its definitely a reading experience, and a slice of the past. We go there and read the walls.

And the men shown are wearing suits, ties, and hats and all look identical and interchangeable. And the women wear skirts and have thin ankles. And the engineers in the pictures don't have the suits, but they are all in white shirts with thin ties like they were popped from a mold. And the black faces looking down from the walls are safe and amusing - Lena Horn and a young Bill Cosby. And there are no Asians, unless you counted Yul Brynner. And there are full page ads about how what's good for major corporations is good for America, and why automation is a boon and why your duty as a husband/ father/ American is to buy the latest and greatest thing out there.

And every time I'm in there (and the food is real good), I am consumed with a feeling of contentment. Not a longing for the past, but happiness that I'm in the present and I wear jeans to work and no one around me is an identical, replaceable white man in a suit and tie. That the world is a lot more interesting than what is on the walls, and I while its pleasant to visit, I really don't want to go back to those old days.

It is not nostalgia. It is the opposite of nostalgia, but I don't know what to call it.

More later,