he finds that walking in midtown can be just as aerobic as it is frustrating when traveling solo. large circumaural headphones can function as blinders, narrowing not just his field of vision but in fact the whole scope of his attention, allowing in only what is necessary in order to navigate yes automotive but mostly also human traffic in the most efficient and expedient manner while completely ignoring pretty much everything else. he ponders whether this an innately moral choice (ie. does this selective narrowing of attention/willful isolation say something about him as a person or what?), and decides to come down neutrally on this particular issue, for the moment.

he hates eating alone more than almost anything else in his life, and supposes that this has just as much to do with the programming of his upbringing as it does the fact that it highlights the solitary nature of his current lifestyle, which just because he has come to terms with it doesn’t mean he has to be proud of it, or even be particularly happy about its status as fact, and so basically tries to avoid thinking about it, much less exhibiting it in his choices and actions. how he allowed himself to return to the same diner again, with the same large novel again, and order the same dish again, is a mystery even to him, as he considers this to be an eating pattern on the order of “crazy cat lady” in terms of loneliness. in considering this, the term “creature of habit” surfaces, giving him chills and filling him with a particular dread.

he realizes that he only puts cream and sugar in his coffee in diner-type situations, and figures that this is probably an unconscious homage to his father’s mystical fascination with the swirling cloud figures of cold dairy liquids being slowly absorbed by piping-hot coffee. that and maybe also due to the fact that most diner coffee absolutely requires at least three packets of sugar and the dilution of a considerable amount of creamer to be even remotely considered palatable (the possibility that this all might be just an excuse for high-lipid dairy products and refined sugar actually does not even occur to him).

the grilled chicken club sandwich is the consummate non-breakfast diner food, at least in his opinion. it is perfected by american cheese and mayo, in harmony with bacon and white bread, though no one wants to admit it in quite those terms: it is negated by the rather pretentious selection of a fancier cheese or less-processed and therefore (theoretically, at least) healthier bread, if you ask him. this already pro-level diner dish is taken to a whole new class of excellence with the addition of edible cole slaw in a ceramic dish (both qualifiers hard to come by in his experience) and, perhaps most importantly, a good, solid, fresh-tasting pickle spear. the french fries occur as more of a fact of the plate than as a result of a conscious decision on the part of anyone involved. part of the pleasure of the grilled chicken club lies in the degree of difficulty in eating the sandwich without dropping anything or looking like a ravenous slob. the same is true of most barbeque sandwiches. after consuming chicken breast meat in sandwich form, the cleaning of the spaces between ones teeth with a toothpick is a not necessarily un-pleasurable but potentially compulsive act, and he finds one toothpick to be inadequate, but three or more to seem greedy when taking them from beside the register while paying.

he likes eating rather a lot. and primarily (though not solely because, c’mon, who is he kidding here) enjoys drinking for its prandial and gustatorily pleasurable aspects.

it occurs to him that it might be more efficient, though way less satisfying and/or enjoyable, if he could actually consume his money, rather than giving basically all of his earnings away in trade for things he ingests.

blindered with headphones, large novel under his arm, toothpick in corner of mouth, and thinking about his exotically interesting-sounding profession, he marvels the destroyingly dull nature of his current high-profile job, and laments that it doesn’t really pay more than the moderately more-interesting but certainly lower-profile work that he usually is engaged in. the term “stunningly quotidian” comes to mind, and he casually but with certainty applies it to his thoughts on his life in general; and then, just as matter-of-fact-ly and surely, though without a necessarily causal relationship, applies the term to his existence as a whole.