The Fennelly’s Diner

Some couples take vacations. Some have children. My parents opened up a restaurant. Well, I don’t know if that was what they thought would be THEEE THING to save their failing marriage but, in any case, here were these two people who seemingly hated each other, working together every day and going home every night, and now they had something else to fight about.

And fight they did…much to the delight of the many patrons who would line up around the block for our meh manicotti and processed penne. But it wasn’t the food they were coming for, it was the entertainment. And they got their money’s worth. Every night.

I can’t tell you how many times I’d come out of the kitchen, my parents’ hurled obscenities echoing through the dining room. I’d see the dirty looks diners gave each other if clanging silverware disturbed the hush, lest they miss a muffled word and go home without getting the juicy details of the altercation du jour. Other patrons tried to look nonchalant as they crept away from the wall, discreetly putting down the water glass they were holding up to their ear. Then, my parents would emerge, as if on cue, my mother’s tear stained face, my father with mashed potatoes in his hair.

Of course there was no respite to be had at school. Few made any effort to conceal the ever present vicious gossip. My parents’ diner was soon dubbed THEE place to go if you were going to break up with someone. It was said that seeing what a relationship could become made the dumpee feel relieved. One of our dishes was even lovingly nicknamed the It’s Not You It’s Me-atloaf.

Other kids said that my parents’ fighting made their moms and dads feel better about their own imperfect relationships. Chicken blessed. Still others said that the fighting sparked lively debates in their homes about who was right and who was wrong. Devil’s Food Advo-cake.

Well, finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I went home and I told my mother and father how much their fighting was bothering me; how it was ruining my life; how I just couldn’t take it any more. The next day they went out and found a marriage counselor.

Mrs. Stuart taught my parents how to get along better. She taught them yoga poses that would help open up the channels of communication between them. She taught them how to express their feelings in a loving, tactful manner.

My parent’s marriage improved over the next few months but it wasn’t strong enough to survive the closing of the restaurant. Six weeks after the doors locked for the last time, the divorce was finalized. I don’t think they ever completely forgave me either.


74 thoughts on “The Fennelly’s Diner

  1. You maintain that reading aloud radio style I like so much…an American almost micro genre…crikey, that was just the first soaking in word art only read…now I shall absorb the story. Another ‘bravo’ moment!

  2. “It’s Not You It’s Me-atloaf.”
    Oh my goodness! Brilliant!
    As a former (and recovering) restaurant manager, I can honestly say that it takes a very strong marriage to survive food service.
    I am loving your foray into fiction, Marissa!

    • Yes, they surely weren’t cut out for it in the first place. If there is one industry I will never return to, it would probably be food service. People are way too picky about what they eat.

  3. Sad but true that not always the main purpose attracts people but the sensation! And saving a marriage with “something” mostly doesn’t work out but results in even more issues…. as you wrote it so perfectly!

  4. Reminds me of the time I went to Hogs & Heifers in the city years and years ago just to get a verbal lashing and shitty beer! Love where you went with this. Have you tried dialogue yet? I bet you have a great ear for it!

    • Oh goodness! I never ate at a Hogs and Heifers but might expect no less (or more) from my dining experience. At least, I would think, these two, would keep their customers out of it.
      No, I haven’t tried dialogue but it might be fun at this experimental juncture.

  5. Devils Food Advo-cake?!!!! Altercation du jour! Someone else already mentioned the witty meat loaf name in their comment. You are a prose pro. And I am getting worried. Very VERY worried! Can you please go back to writing rhyming poetry??

    • Ha, ha! I don’t think I could ever come close to you Stephanie…but I do appreciate the high compliment. After thinking up these word plays, I did harken back to much of your writing, the Great Queen of Word Play herself!

  6. I loved the break-up menu items. And the people so intent on hearing the arguments that they frowned on clanking silverware and held water glasses up to the wall. Too bad it didn’t end well. Or maybe it did, depending on whose viewpoint. Great story, kept me reading right up to the end. 🙂

  7. Marissa, so funny and creative. 🙂 I liked this short story which had dramatic impact. It reminded me of my own parents who seemed to like fighting only to get to the “kiss and make up” parts! ❤

  8. Relieved after reading the comments. I thought it wasa true story. This was a good write. The only thing that can save a marriage is the two people wanting to save that marriuage more than anything else. Children, etc won’t salvage the unsalveable.

  9. As you well know, humor comes at the fork in the road (pun intended) when you must choose between making light of the situation or homicide. The former is so much more convenient, so you go with it. And man, do you know how to go with it.

    That It’s not you it’s Me-atloaf? I have served it up, and I have had it served to me. Meh!

    Clever and witty and true.

    Check! 🙂

  10. What an amazing story and childhood in the good and bad sense, but a great person came out of it, in my opinion, and the love and spirit you put into your own children just shows how much you have learned from your own experience. You are certainly one of the good ones !

    • Thank you Peter! Was it that realistic? My parents divorced but this was mostly fictionalized. I’m glad you enjoyed it though. As king of the short stories, it mean a lot coming from you.

  11. Great story, owning a restaurant would be just as challenging as being in a relationship, and here they had both, well not towards the end. Its not you its me-eat loaf- please tell me this is real ?

  12. I hope this is just a story. To be true is too sad. To go through so much, to learn, to give up -what have you learned? As a story -it teaches much. Good job!

    • It’s not true, but based on an I interview I read from another author; just the part a out tue fighting parents going into business together. I took it from there. Thanks for your support!

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