Duffer’s


Thursday morning—or afternoon—I woke up with the worst pounding headache and the stalest taste of beer leftover in my mouth. It was a crazy Dollar Bottle night at Echos, and opening my eyes to find myself in a familiar place—my living room couch—and finding out my friend, Meredith, who was passed out on the opposite couch, made it home with me, was a score.
We pretty much opened our eyes at the same time. I observed that she was looking extra rough this afternoon, and I concluded I had to look just as bad as she. We didn’t have the energy to sit up and talk to each other, so instead we communicated via grunts and mumbles. We had important matters to discuss. The conversation went a little something like this:

Me: Food.
Mer: Yes.
Me: Fried?
Mer: Yes.
Me: Where?
Mer: Don’t know.
Me: Decide.
Mer: You.
Me: Fine. McDonald’s.

Normally, McDonald’s on a morning after heavy drinking, when you have the shakes and sweats and can’t stomach anything, but feel that, without a doubt, you can hold down at least a double cheeseburger somehow, is a sufficient choice in the food department. Not today. Mer shot up from the couch:

Mer: I’m not going to McDonald’s. I’m trying to eat healthy.
Me: You said you wanted fried, greasy food.
Mer: But I have to be at least a little bit healthy.
Me: What did you have in mind?
Mer: Broccoli.
Me: Seriously?
Mer: Fried.
Me: That’s not healthy.
Mer: It’s a start.

This only meant one thing. We were going to Duffer’s Restaurant, the one place on the island that has only the best fried broccoli I’ve ever tasted. I was okay with this decision. Duffer’s has always been a choice favorite since I was little. I’ve always loved going there, and it’s not just because the Long family, the family who owns and operates and pours its heart and soul into Duffer’s, has been friends with my family for as long as I can remember.

The thing I liked most about Duffer’s as a kid was the golf course outside. When Mer and I pulled up and parked out front of the restaurant, I saw a group of kids gathered around the last hole, each taking his or her chances at shooting their golf balls to make a hole-in-one to win the jackpot prize, which usually consists of free tickets to win a prize in the arcade next to the course.

And that was my second favorite thing about Duffer’s as a kid—the arcade. My brothers and I used to escape from our parents at the table while we waited for our food and spend the five dollars they gave us on claw machine and racing games. But we always saved our tickets. We were good at that. We wanted that big prize—you know, the stuffed animal that was 500 tickets. After saving all summer, by the end of it we were able to get that stuffed animal.

I didn’t try my luck in the arcade today. Instead, Mer and I walked passed the golf course and arcade and right into the restaurant, where I was greeted by Frank Sinatra music humming in the background—my favorite performer.

We were welcomed by friendly faces—friends who grew up with us and parents who took care of us. Duffer’s is a family restaurant, no doubt. But it’s one of the family restaurants that actually makes you feel like you’re a part of the Long family. Aside from the staff, the décor is homey, with toy trains on tracks, running around the ceilings, flowered wallpaper, and warm booths.

We sat down at a booth, while waitresses and hostesses sat down with us to talk and catch up. Mer didn’t need to look at the menu. She already knew what she wanted. I, on the other hand, had a tough time determining what ice cream sundae I should devour this afternoon. Duffer’s is famous for its homemade, amazing ice cream, and if you haven’t tried it, you need to. You will be blown away. Secret family recipes for secret homemade ice cream can only mean one thing—it HAS to be good. After much careful consideration, I decided on a Here Comes the Fudge. No explanation needed—the name is self-explanatory and alludes to its chocolaty goodness.

So we sat and ate our hangovers away. We recollected the occurrences of the previous night, including everything from what we did, where we went, who we saw, what we drank, what we ate when we left the bar and how we left the bar and made it home, all in the company of friends and family, Sinatra and other diners. And I must say, even with my pounding headache, there was no place I’d rather be than Duffer’s, sitting in a booth and eating ice cream and fried broccoli. It’s the hangover cure.

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