“Doug! Good to see you! Have a seat and I’ll bring you your usual,” Doug’s favourite restaurant at Lou’s Diner says to him. He’s been coming to the diner every Monday night for ages and he always has the same thing: meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, plus a slice of cherry pie for dessert.
“Hey Doug! Here for your usual spaghetti dinner?” his favourite waitress at Antonio’s asks him the following night.
“You know it, Fran. If it’s Tuesday, it must be spaghetti night,” he answers.
Tuesday is always spaghetti night for Doug; just as Monday is meatloaf night, Wednesday is all-you-can-eat rib night at The Rib Shack, Thursday is chicken pot pie night at The Chicken Coop, Friday is fish fry night at The Dock, Saturday is pork chop night at The Baron Sports Bar and Grill, and Sunday is roast beef dinner night at The Country Inn.
None of the restaurants know that Doug visits the other establishments throughout the week. They just think that he’s too busy to cook on the night that he eats at their place, or that his wife must have to work late, or that he doesn’t know how to cook for himself. Doug’s not about to tell them the truth – that he eats out because there is no one to go home to and there never has been. He’s more than capable of cooking for himself, he has all the time in the world to; but going where they call you by name, where there are people who expect him to show up by a certain time, and where they care to remember what he likes and doesn’t like to eat…well, he imagines that what it must feel like to have a family, to belong, to be loved.
It’s a good feeling, one that he wishes he could experience for real, but sometimes in life all you can do is take what you can get.