Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Breakfast

Christmas morning can be a challenging time for a single Jewish guy who wants to go someplace for breakfast. Every year I get in my car and drive up to Pasadena, and I always seem to find at least one place that's open. One year, the bakery next to Mi Piaci on Colorado was open. Another year, it was Robin's. But it seems to vary from year to year, and I can't seem to count on any place to be open year after year.

Several years ago, as I made my way into Old Town on Christmas morning, I noticed that Ruby's Diner ( at the corner of Green and Fair Oaks was open. Ruby's is a '50s-style diner that had great food and waiters and waitresses dressed in 50s style outfits. Sometimes my swing-dancing friends and I would go there in the evening after a dance at PBDA ( and dance to the 50s music in the aisles between the tables. I was really happy that Ruby's was open that Christmas morning.

Upon arriving, I realized that I needed to buy an LA Times to read as I ate, but decided I'd wait until after I ordered my meal. As I entered, a young woman greeted me and asked me if I was there for breakfast. I thought this was a rather odd question. It was around 8:00 am, so what else would I be doing walking into a restaurant? I noticed that the waiters and waitresses were not wearing their usual Ruby's outfits. Instead they were wearing blue jeans and flannel shirts. I thought, "That's funny, but it is Christmas, and maybe they just thought they'd let them wear regular clothes."

I was taken to a booth, and I sat down waiting for someone to bring me coffee and a menu and take my order. As I waited, I noticed that instead of the usual salt and pepper shakers on the table there were those little paper envelopes. I also noticed that the utensils were plastic. I thought, "Well, it's Christmas, I guess they didn't want to bring in a full crew of dishwashers and others."

I thought it was odd that it was taking so long for them to come and take my order when suddenly two young waitresses appeared at my table. One had a pot of coffee and the other had a rectangular styrofoam plate containing scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast, which she began to place in front of me. "What's this?" I asked. "It's breakfast," one of them said. "But I didn't order this," I said.

Just then a light went on in my head. "Is this a free breakfast for the homeless I asked?" "Yes," she said. "Oh," I said, "I can't eat this. I didn't realize." She said, "Don't worry about it. We have enough food to feed 500 people and only 50 have shown up. We're just going to have to throw it out." So I began to eat my free Christmas breakfast. I began looking around at the other diners. I saw a few homeless-looking people, and a few large tables of what appeared to be special needs patients. I felt so guilty, I didn't have the nerve to get up and buy a newspaper.

After I was done, I went over and offered to pay for my food or to make a donation. The waitress said, "There's no way you can. We don't have registers working, and all the food's been donated and paid for. We're just going to have to send all the leftovers to the park where they're serving lunch, but there will be way too much food."

So that's the story of my embarrassing Christmas breakfast at Ruby's


Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

That is just the sweetest story EVAR!

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

We have to go all the way to LAX Terminal 6 to go to Ruby's. Wah.

Mister Earl said...

I am available for breakfast Christmas morning, if anyone wants to invite me over. ;-)

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

If I didn't have mother troubles this year, I'd invite you over for a zenny zanny French toast toastie B fast in a hot second. Alas, it's holiday purgatory for me.

Vanda said...

That's a great story.

Back when I was in college I used to lose track of time during the winter breaks. I was living in a winter fog of timelessness. One one such day in the year Shindler's List came out I decided to go to the movies and see it. I didn't realize till I got home later that it was Christmas Eve. Everyone else in the theater must have been Jewish. I had no clue.

Mister Earl said...

Hey Vanda:

Yes, Jews going to the movies and eating Chinese food on Christmas is a stereotype. There's even a song about it:

altadenahiker said...

Oh my god, I laughed and laughed. Was I supposed to laugh? I did, though. You would definitely be invited for christmas breakfast were I cooking any. I've got a regular early morning Christmas ride that's a tradition. But I hope to round a few of us up to meet in my little house of bad furniture perhaps next week for an hour or two.

I'm sorry. That story was so funny. It's like, we never know how we appear to others, do we?

altadenahiker said...

And just to elaborate on that last thought, sometimes we think we're so cool and if we're lucky we never find out otherwise. But other times we feel so out of it and outre, but if we're unlucky, we never find out we were wrong about that one too.

Vanda said...

That might be Mr. Earl, but I didn't figure it out till recently. When I grew up behind the Iron Curtain we had Christmas without religion, so in my mind the two are not really connected.