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Sundays at Seros

October 21, 2009

Otis B. Driftwood (Groucho Marx): What have we got for dinner?
Ship Steward: Anything you like, sir. You might have some tomato juice, orange juice, grape juice, pineapple juice…
Driftwood: Hey – turn off the juice before I get electrocuted. All right, let me have one of each. And, uh, two fried eggs, two poached eggs, two scrambled eggs, and two medium-boiled eggs.
Fiorello (Chico Marx) (requested through the door): And two hard-boiled eggs.
Driftwood: And two hard-boiled eggs.
Tomasso (Harpo Marx) (signaling another egg order with his horn honk): HONK!
Driftwood: Make that three hard-boiled eggs…and, uh, some roast beef: rare, medium, well-done, and overdone.
Fiorello (repeating his order): And two hard-boiled eggs.
Driftwood: And two hard-boiled eggs.
Tomasso: HONK (signaling an amended order)!
Driftwood: Make that three hard-boiled eggs….and, uh, eight pieces of French pastry.
Fiorello (repeating his order): And two hard-boiled eggs.
Driftwood: And two hard-boiled eggs.
Tomasso: HONK!
Driftwood: Make that three hard-boiled eggs.
Tomasso: HONK! (a shorter honk)
Driftwood: And one duck egg. Uh, have you got any stewed prunes?
Steward: Yes, sir.
Driftwood: Well, give 'em some black coffee, that'll sober 'em up!

(From Night at the Opera’s famous stateroom scene, 1935, MGM Studios)


You could say it’s a tradition for Jews to discuss, ad nauseum, “Where should we eat?” When Judy went with me for a Sunday morning MRI at Henry Ford Hospital to see if my acoustic neuroma on the left side of my brain was still 4 millimeters, I was more excited by the breakfast to follow. We had often gone together to have an omelette at the Henry Ford Cafeteria, which features choices of organic vegetables and cheese, all cooked right there in front of us, with whole grain toast, for $2.99.

            We got to the cafeteria at 9:30 and found out they had closed the chef’s stations for Sunday mornings. What a disappointment!

So, where would we go for breakfast? Gest Omelettes? The Senate? Siegel’s Deli? Hercules? Leo’s? Panera? It took us five minutes of driving and then Judy said, let’s go to Seros. She likes the skillet and I like the lox platter and the omelette. Why not? We hadn’t been there since Aunt Sylvia, Al, Sharon, Mel, and Alan were in town.

            I ordered the spinach and cheese omelette and Judy ordered the skillet. I had to drink a lot of water after the MRI to get the dye out of my veins but I needed some coffee also. We ordered and then my cousins, Maureen and Leon, walked in the door with another couple. A few minutes later, right after the coffee was served, my parents walked in the door and said they were meaning to call us but wasn’t this nice? What a surprise!

            They sat at our table and we shmoozed about the MRI, the movie they saw yesterday that they wanted us to see, Have a Little Faith, Facebook, colonoscopies, my parents’ health, Judy’s sore shoulder, my cold that was getting better, their favorite Seros waitress, salami and eggs, the coffee, and A Serious Man, the movie they saw, featuring lots of trouble, rabbis, Yiddish, and a man who makes Larry David look like a Jew of infinite blessings.

            Then, another family strolled in and sat at the table next to us and said to my mom, “Are you a Strasberger?” Well, we’re related, she said, and we found out that it was the mother of Jaymie who married Sean Strasberger, my mom’s great nephew, a few months ago. The mom and her sister, aunts, and then the grandfather, and then the uncle and soon, Jaymie arrived.

This Sunday at Seros reminded me of the stateroom scene from the Marx Brothers’ Night at the Opera in which Groucho orders some food in his stateroom and then Chico and Harpo follow and then one ship employee after another after another enter the crowded room on the ship until there is complete pandemonium and thirteen people are squeezed into a small, stuffed stateroom.

We wondered, who else was going to arrive, some more cousins, maybe friends, maybe my aunt Lil? Anything was possible.

            Seros is the restaurant that we joke about concerning the average age of the customer, which I would guess is usually about 73. If AARP wanted to do a publicity event in Michigan, Seros would be the place. Seros features lots of eggs, anyway you want them, poached, fried, hard-boiled, medium-boiled, and bagels, lox, and coffee. It also offers a scene filled with many “old cockers,” as we would say in the old country, and that I mean the north side of Livonia, circa 1972.

            If I were to write a sentimental book about senior citizens’ thoughts about death and living, the title might be, Sundays at Seros. Yeah, it might not sell millions of copies like Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, but if I included color photos of all the food options and some candid mishegoss-filled quotes from its patrons, it might just be a best seller anyway.

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