The Diner on Sycamore, Over-the-Rhine

Talking 'Bout Our Generation

Ann's missing. Late presumably.

It doesn't matter. The crowd at The Diner is uncharacteristically sparse. Only four people are dining in the restaurant's front room.

A teen-age girl, wearing The Diner's bright blue polo shirt uniform, sits at the far end of the bar doing her homework. She gets up and walks back toward the kitchen, sucking her thumb along the way.

Another man also sits at the counter. Dressed in a black dress shirt and black jeans and sporting a van dyke, he reads a newspaper. "How you guys doin'?" he asks before standing up.

It becomes clear that the man in black is actually the manager. He addresses one of the waiters, a bald man with hip glasses, funky sideburns and a pierced tongue. "Why don't you take these two tables? It'll be a while before Ann gets here," he says, no hint of authority in his voice.

Ann's disappearance doesn't hamper The Diner's service. Customers sporadically walk in. The hostess happily leads a couple of the elderly ones into the non-smoking section in back. She remains bored after seating them.

A near carbon copy of Angelina Jolie with short, spiky brownish-red hair, she rests her arms on the partition of the bar. She passes time by talking to the bartender. Their conversation is loosely guided by various patrons.

Two teen-age girls, one adorned with purple wings on her back, wander in and sit at the long '50s-style counter. Their appearance prompts mention among the employees of the nearby School for Creative and Performing Arts, but the bartender is more concerned about Ann's whereabouts.

"Where is Ann? She should be here by now," he mentions to no one in particular. No one else knows or seems to care.

The bartender, his long dirty blond hair pulled back tight into a ponytail, putters around the bar trying to stay busy. It's a difficult task amidst slow business.

Just like an old-fashioned diner, stainless steel shines everywhere. The Diner's pink-and-white checkered tile, another throwback in time, seems new. It's hard to imagine that dust covers the red and blue neon lights that outline the shape of the ceiling.

The hippie-esque bartender faces a brief respite from his doldrums when two police officers, a male and a female, take seats at the counter. Their addition means five cops are currently spending their dinner breaks at The Diner, often a popular hangout for the law enforcement set.

Now that the bartender has something to do, he notices Ann through the large windows that line the front of the restaurant. "Oh, look, it's Ann. God bless her," he says, throwing his hands up in victory.

For him, the night is complete, and another member of the friendly and chic staff is in place.

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