Mark and I went to the early bird at the Peter Pan Restaurant yesterday. It's the Florida state bird, the Early Bird. Either two dinners for the price of one, or cheap specials good only until six in the evening. Back in the olden days, when I was a working man, I would often find myself cruising down Oakland Park Boulevard around four in the afternoon. In front of me, every single time, would be a giant Mercury Marquis or Lincoln. In the back seat would be two giant mounds of pink cotton candy hair. Beyond the ladies in the back seat, sitting up front, would be the guys. Two balding old men with wisps of gray hair strung across their bald spots. It was always that way, the girls in the back seat, the guys in the front. They were on the way over to a favorite steakhouse of the early bird crowd. You can still find early bird specials all over Florida, but that particular steakhouse is long gone along with the customers.
Eating early is something you become accustomed to here in Florida. Interestingly, when Mark and I visited Italy it was the complete opposite. Nobody in Italy eats dinner before nine in the evening except American tourists. We were in Florence and around six in the evening, our usual dinner time, Mark and I needed food. So we left the hotel and walked. We walked, and walked, and walked, but every single restaurant was closed. Until we came across a Chinese restaurant. I could see lights on inside so I tried the door. It was open. Hurray! Mark and I were going to have Italian Chinese food. We stepped inside to find the place empty except for a family of Chinese people sitting around a table eating. I do not know what the nice man at the front door was saying to us, he spoke Italian. I assume with a Chinese accent. We smiled back and sat down at a table. The nice man went over to the table of people and there seemed to be a conference. Shortly, one of the ladies at the table got up and brought us a menu, in Italian. At least some of the selections were the same as an American Chinese restaurant, so Mark and I ordered by pointing to what we wanted. It's quite possible that the restaurant was closed, and that the nice man at the door was trying to tell us so. It's also possible that Mark and I interrupted the only down time those people had, insisting on parking our asses at a table and demanding they make us dinner. Whatever, all I know is that we had a pretty mediocre Chinese dinner in Florence, Italy. Thankfully, the next evening we had figured out that they served free food at the little wine bar on the corner. All you had to do was sit a table and order a glass of wine. They call it aperitivoI, much like Spanish tapas. It wasn't dinner, but it sure was good.