Main Moon

When Jenny Boyd began working full-time at the Main Moon Restaurant in 2003, it ocurred to her one day to ask what the name meant—since there’s only one moon for this planet—no others of lesser standing.

Tommy Chang said his grandfather opened the restaurant back in the 60s over on Main Street—the “Main” is a reference to “Main Street”—not to the moon itself. In addition to being a hard worker—Grandpa was an intelligent, creative man who loved Norman Rockwell believing he was the greatest American artist who ever lived. Grandpa was trying to articulate a poetic image of a beautiful full moon rising over an idealized American Main Street. It was just a small Chinese restaurant in a quiet, small town but he had a modest, beautiful vision he wanted to share with the world. Grandpa’s English wasn’t very good—“Main Moon” was the best he could do at the time and it stuck. The restaurant was moved to the current Park Street location in the 80s when business exceeded the original building’s capacity and the name came with it. It was unclear what became of the poetic vision.

Jenny’s mom went to work there about that time—Jenny was still a toddler. She remembered watching her mom wait tables and clean up after she got out of school—the school bus would drop her off at “The Moon,”—as locals called it—like it dropped other kids off at their homes.

She would sit at a table by the kitchen doors doing her homework alongside Sally Chang who was a year younger than Jenny. When the girls entered their mid-teens they both went to work in the restaurant part-time, busing tables and washing dishes at first then as they matured, waiting on customers.

The two girls grew up together and were the best of friends as far back as either could remember—they were like sisters and Jenney couldn’t have loved Sally more if she had been. But the older the two girls got the more Jenny realized Sally was much brighter than her. Sally would go on to earn a full scholarship to a major east coast university.  It was only with some difficulty Jenny managed to graduate from high school. Sally graduated with her—a year early.

The afternoon of their graduation ceremony a party was held at the restaurant for the two girls. After the party the restaurant was opened for the supper crowd and Jenny had

to work as usual. Sally did not work that evening—she had a variety of appointments, paperwork and other errands related her going off to college in the fall.

While Sally would actually work pretty much as usual through that summer, the symbolism of that particular evening was not lost on Jenny. As she stuffed paper napkins into napkin-holders Jenny reflected on the futures of the two of them.

In a few months Sally would leave her home—this town—this restaurant—and begin the process of becoming an educated woman. Sally would become a woman smart enough, educated enough she did not have to wait tables to earn a living. Sally’s prospects were almost infinite—Jenny thought.  Her friend would negotiate and thrive in a social and intellectual environment that was exotic and wonderful—and intimidating—a world Jenny would never know.

And after college her friend would move in different circles, have a more affluent life-style, nicer house, nicer car, marry a man who was a professional. For almost all of her 18 years, Jenny had thought of life in terms of “This World” and the “Otherworld.” Sally was getting on board—leaving for the “Otherworld.” Jenny knew she herself would marry some perfectly nice boy who drove a truck or worked at the mill while she would continue to wait tables at The Moon and one day her own kids would do their homework at that table by the kitchen doors.

The supper crowd that evening was very light. There were long intervals between customers entering, being seated and placing orders. Jenny found herself sitting for long periods at her old “homework table,” conscious of Sally’s absence.

She felt a sort of numb sadness knowing her own life preparation was done—she was an adult now and sliding inevitably toward a drab oblivion. There would be marriage in a year or two to some perfectly nice guy—most likely David or Allen—who would treat her well and make a perfectly adequate income but who would be perfectly satisfied to never think, grow or mature in any deliberate sense. He would go to work, drink beer, watch TV get a new car every 4 or 5 years and get fat, bald and old.

After marriage the first kid would be born—a few years later the second and there might be a third. And she would get fat as her mother did. She’d work part time here—or maybe at the grocery store.

She’d socialize—cards, bowling, the Elks or Moose club—with the same people she knew now. She’d go to church with the same people she knew now and pray to a god

she never knew—that she would never know. After a certain number of years she would become dissatisfied with the routine, the sameness, the pointlessness—each day of which was one day closer to old age and death. She would become dissatisfied with the perfectly nice, ass-hole husband whose greatest joy and sole purpose in life was drinking beer and yelling at the TV and whose primary expressions of communication with her were grunts, “uh-huhs” farts, belching and snoring.

She would get depressed, crazy and stupid—get a divorce, become a bit less depressed, lose weight and start over again—or at least try. Buy new jeans, get a new hair-style, hit the gym and tanning bed—start going to rock or country concerts again—sleep around. But pretty soon it would all just slide back into the same old, “This World”—only with a different, perfectly nice, ass-hole husband snoring next to her.

The late afternoon light—that warm, small-town lotus light that caused the dust and streaks on the big front windows of the restaurant to glow and turn the street outside into an old photograph—or Norman Rockwell illustration—filled the restaurant with a forgiving, golden calm.

Chrome and Formica tables and painted metal chairs were frozen in the spaces they occupied.  The diners seemed drugged, murmuring and lost in the wonder of the moment. Another “this world” day would fade into another “this world” night.  Go home, go to bed, get up—do it again. And again and again until you’re too old to do it again—at which time somebody younger took your place while you spent the remainder of your days staying out of the way and watching the grandkids.

The late afternoon light became twilight. The leaves and branches of that old Chestnut tree across the street in the little town park stopped glowing and become a delicate silhouette moving silently in the evening breeze. Out there, somewhere in the fading twilight, Sally’s train for the otherworld was leaving town—gaining speed—the buildings and trees and roads and people and cars of “this world” accelerating into a darkening blur.

And with all the love in her yearning soul—Jenny wished her well.

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