On hot and humid Illinois summer afternoons, we would walk to Grants, the biggest department store in our town of Hoffman Estates. We'd hang out for hours, enjoying the air conditioning, trying on clothes, sitting on the patio furniture, putting on lipstick. When we needed a break, we always ended up at The Skillet.
In those days, department stores came equipped with diners. Now we have Starbucks. Gloria and I would order ice tea, ask for extra lemons and sugar, and then sit and giggle. For a long time. If we were really splurging, we'd order a grilled cheese sandwich with french fries which we had to share because we had spent all our money on other stuff. One year at Grants we bought matching bathing suits, white ruffles with pink bows. We looked like lamp shades. Another year we bought matching outfits for a school field trip. Gloria's outfit had yellow flowers and mine with blue. Or maybe it was the opposite.
We usually left the waitresses our spare change. The Skillet waitresses never looked very happy to see us. Go figure. I recall a lot of scowls and grim expressions.
The young girls at my restaurant didn't tip me well, but that's okay. They reminded me of a happy time in my life, and to lighten up. Gloria and I are still friends and when we get together, we make sure to giggle. A lot.