Noon Central and I pull up Yelp on my phone to determine the food options near me in Hopkins, MN. Hopkins was a town of its own at one time I’m sure, now it’s just a zip code so close to Minneapolis that if someone from out of state asks where you live, you probably just say “Minneapolis.”
The Main Street Bar & Grill is only 5 minutes away, on Main Street (amazingly), and reportedly serves the “best burgers anywhere.” It sounds worth a try.
On the way there I witness a collision between two cars, both turning left. One apparently veers into the other’s lane and they glance off one another with a plasticy crunch that startles me from looking at my driving directions while waiting for the light to change. One of the drivers, a big-haired woman, looks directly at me and mouths, “What the fuck?!”
I make it to Main Street without further incident.
Inside, the lounge is straight ahead, the restaurant is to my left. Another big-haired woman sits at the bar rolling knives, forks, and spoons into napkins that she has stacked in front of her. I ask her if I should seat myself and she says, “You go right ahead, honey.”
I move into the restaurant and sit down, positioning myself so that I can’t see any of the flatscreen televisions ringing the room. I order the Main Street burger, minus the thousand island dressing. I open my book, Gaining Daylight by Sara Loewen, and start to read.
At the table to my left a man is regaling his two companions with the stories of how he has blown out both of his knees — one of them twice — playing hockey. Meanwhile Loewen is describing in an essay how she realized she still had mustard-colored baby shit caked on her wedding ring.
A couple comes in and takes the table directly in front and to the right of me. A younger man pushing an older woman in a wheelchair. She stands up from the wheelchair and sidles around the table, bumping one of the vacant chairs at my table hard enough with her ass so as to make the water in my glass slosh over the lip. I can hear the woman breathing heavily as she drops onto her chair. From the corner of my eye I sense her face turned in my direction, but when I glance up I see she is merely staring at the TV screen above me.
The young man gets up and walks away. The woman pulls her foot up and across her leg, removes her shoe, then her sock, and proceeds to scratch and rub her foot. I try not to look, but it’s hard not to considering it is maybe four feet, if that, from me.
“That must be a good book,” the woman says. “Do you like to read?”
I look up. This time she is looking directly at me. “Yes,” I say. “I do.”
“You’re like me then,” she says.
“What do you like to read?” I ask.
“Yeah? Who is your favorite mystery writer?”
“Oh, I don’t care much for the writers,” she says. “I just like the mysteries.”
The young man returns, excited to report there are two pool tables on the other side of the restaurant. The woman puts her sock back on, then her shoe. Their food arrives. She takes a little kit out and measures her blood sugar with some electronic device.