Monterey Bay, Monterey, California


We grabbed a window table at a cafe in Moss Landing. The smell of potatoes simmering in hot oil, bacon, and fresh coffee filled the small dining room. It was the kind of place where a guy in blue jeans and work boots fit in perfectly. They were using a bottle of Tapatio Hot Sauce to prop open a window, and it didn’t seem out of place. Twin girls as tall as the tables, wearing identical dresses, kept popping up as if from everywhere. 

It was evident the customers knew the wait staff by the words floating around the room. 

“Yeah, we’re gettin’ on just fine.” 

“Well, you tell her hello for me.” 

“Okay, we’ll see you tonight then.”

The day’s special, scribbled on a whiteboard with colored markers, announced, “grilled fresh fish from the bay: cod, salmon, halibut, and our world-famous fries.” An old man in a cowboy hat counted small bills to pay his check while a woman at the table next to us placed her order, “I’ll have a Mr. Pibb, only Mr. Pibb. I don’t want none of that Diet Coke stuff.”

There was never an empty table, and the cafe seemed far too busy, but no one was in a hurry. And spread out over the top like frosting on a cake laid a layer of easy-going laughter.