Jessi’s Restaurant

Boys are on dad time again today. We were going to get old-timey haircuts (for them, natch), but our local chop-shop is closed on Sundays. We’ll be back next week, boys’ attitudes allowing.

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New location in the area for dad to pop in for a quick one on the way home. Last time I was in this building it was a used appliance store (and they were sold out of window-unit air conditioners). Now it’s becoming the “Red Star Rock Bar.” Being a fan of retro-references like the 45 RPM inserts in this cool mural they’re painting, and being a fan of appropriating the devenomed Soviet Union as if it existed only to become an aspect of American hipster pop culture, I think I’m going to like this when it finally opens.

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This Bayshore morning is gloomy. Maybe not Portland-gloomy, but what do I know, I’ve never been to Portland.

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In the year 2063 when Ivo is going to the robot doctor because he has pain in his right hip, the highest court in the land, the Google Internet Court of All-Seeing, will exhume my FaceBook page and blame me for Ivo’s middle-aged arthritis by allowing his older brother to pull his leg out of the socket. This picture will be all the evidence the future needs.

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The gloom is worse over in Pinellas Park.

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It cleared up slightly by the time we got to Jessi’s Family Restaurant, recommended by TBB fan Don B. Jessi’s has a nice web site at http://jessisrestaurant.com/, and in the realm of the physical they’re located at 8331 66th Street N. Pinellas Park, FL 33781. Or in Tirana, if the Albanian omelets are any indication.

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We look like a bad 70s TV show promo picture, don’t we? Ivo’s the tough guy. I’m the unhinged mad scientist. Marek’s the psycho who eats lollipops while tying dynamite to your chest before throwing you out of the back of an airplane so you explode in mid-air.

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It’s a good sign. There was coffee on the table before I could even sit down. And not from the table’s previous occupants, either.

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Marek makes me think of the old Springsteen lyric, “Well now Wild young Billy was a crazy cat and he shook some dust out of his coonskin cap.

This boy needs a coonskin cap.

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Coffee straight up for young Ivo.

Man, that boy needs a haircut. And I should know, just look at all my hair.

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Marek’s lure to come to breakfast: The hot chocolate. He initially ordered the wrong kind. What he really wanted was the “hot chocolate please,” which is so much tastier than a regular “hot chocolate.”

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I’m having the Albanian omelet, and I’m thinking there’s a lot of Albanians in this part of town. Not the first Albanian breakfast we’ve been to. Our waitress, however, is Canadian. A real melting-pot here.

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Two year old with a knife. Nothing to see here.

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Marek would like you to note that he brought his “very special Corvette” with him this morning.

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And here we go with breakfast. Standard-issue bacon and eggs for the Marek.

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Ivo promptly started mauling his pancakes with cutlery. Taking out hidden aggressions from all that militant potty-training, I suppose.

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Albanian omelet. This will put a spring in your traditional Albanian folk dancing.

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I see this and think that Ivo’s conducting an orchestra. Orchestra of his belly.

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Marek’s eating the whole thing. This picture is notable, by the way, as it represents the one split-second where both boys were actually good and calm at the same time this morning. Every other shot I take is of a good boy while the other is pouring sugar down my gas tank.

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Marek pauses. The din of the melee raging around him fades. He looks his nemesis in the eye. Coldly. Measuringly. He knows that this moment will define him and will decide the outcome of the battle. He prepares to strike.

This.

This is what the Iliad would look like if it were about breakfast.

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We all pause for a coffee.

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Ivo whipped out a Jackson and said, “I’ve got this one, dad.”

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Sizing up the challenge.

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On the way out, we noticed all these pictures of, presumably, family and friends. This bumped Jessi’s from a 4 to a 4.5. These are folks who care about folks, and that counts a lot to me.

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Not captured on camera here: Marek stopping at one of these statues and saying, “Dad, this woman is naked!”

Also not captured, dad replying, “ayyyup.”

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Leaving the parking lot. I suspect the building housing Jessi’s is repurposed. I didn’t see a single cart in the restaurant that would cause them to need this sign.

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Jessi’s is a recommendation that came to us from Tampa Bay Breakfasts fan Don B. This was a great breakfast. Food was just right. Staff and customers alike were friendly and warm. A good family atmosphere, and the coffee never ran dry. Two breakfasts and three drinking men set us back just a sliver under twenty, which wasn’t the cheapest ever, but was still in budget. We’re pleased to give Jessi’s Family Restaurant a Tampa Bay Breakfasts Four and a Half Pancake Rating.

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Jessi's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After breakfast, we rolled into the Lake Seminole Park, which is where my parents used to take me when I was Marek’s age.

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As is the tradition with our tribe, we took a quiet moment of solitude to reflect, and also to yell at ducks.

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We had gone to the grocery the day before. Each boy carried his own basket and got to choose one apple. Bachelor training, you know. We brought our apples for snacks for the ride home.

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I took note of this fine American’s pickup truck on the way home. Soon enough I’ll be discussing with the boys why this person felt his misogynistic and violent views need to be on display. Let’s analyze: The “shocker” sticker in the upper left is a sexual reference not suitable for this blog, though we can say that it is not an act of empowerment for women on the receiving end. The “assault life” statement with the weapon implies a life that is founded on violence. I see this truck and it scares me. Not me, personally, but for my children who will have to grow up and navigate a world where it’s not only OK, but even encouraged to make crass statements on the highway that women are toys and lethal violence is the whimsical answer to the question. This guy probably has boys in the back and thinks it funny to teach them the little rhyme for “the shocker.”

I’m teaching my boys to grow up smart enough to manipulate the bullies, navigate the hate, and become real human beings.

Let’s hope so, anyway.

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