One summer’s morn we Good Gentlemen endeavored to erect a den in which to consume copious illegal drugs. It was Tim Tam’s plan — he being the one who procured for us our intoxicants. In compensation for Tim Tam’s underwriting of our risk, the rest of us provided payment for both our future drug den’s raw materials and the various uppers, downers, hallucinogens and barbiturates to be enjoyed therein.
Our scene begins...
Bizz buzz yip! I am fly! Flip fly! TTYL! Hoo-Ha for flappy
wing dings. YOLO! Can’t swat no no! Big old skin wavers miss! SMH! Fun and flap
flap flap! Nibble zip yum! LOL! Woop woop wee!
He he he! You’re all so slow! The way my wings move IMHO I’m just too much of a hotshot for the noisy bigguns. I can dart in and eat from the smelly bin. Who cares what it is. I eat meats and cheese and eggs and the things on the floor and just about anything around. MmmmMmm! It’s all mine for the licking. Mine mine mine.
The giants make my life a pain. They shoo me out. They snap rags and clap their hands. I’m too quick for all that. Too sharp! They need to understand that I’m here to stay. And boy am I hungry! Scrambled eggs, taters, cheese, pesto and mmMmm! That’s the good stuff. Once they’re done with the food, it’s all mine. If they keep chucking it, I’ll keep licking it. Big old idiots.
I’m kinda becoming a food expert. Everything eventually goes in the trash, my banquet hall. There is one omelet that’s taken my fancy. It has a variety of plump and salty mushrooms covered in smoked gouda cheese. I mean it’s not like that’s all I’ve tried. It’s all so good. The salmon burger is always crisp and moist with hints of ginger. The huevos rancheros are smothered with beans and homemade salsa. Not to mention that every weekly special is an innovative surprise. But for some reason I keep going back to that savory mushroom-filled delight. Mmm!
I have a niggling feeling that my life is nothing but a search for the next meal. Truth be told, it hardly excites me anymore, gorging on food. Of late, I’ve found more peace in simply gazing from my perch, observing the fumblings below. Mind you, I’m still quite fast. I could flip under the lid of that stockpile of detritus any time I please. It’s not, however, what I live for anymore. I ponder on deeper things. Why am I different from these giants? Why am at odds with their world and their words? What is my true purpose here? I try to ignore my nature, to gorge endlessly on leavings. Could I possibly rise above it? Only time can judge.
Red Chili Salmon Burger with Shaved Cucumber & Ginger Lime Aioli
But what is this abode? Why here, was I given the breath of life? Am I the first fly to think this way? Or is it simply that we never speak, that no record of fly-knowledge is kept? Or, hope upon hope, luck upon luck, could it be – just possibly – that I am special? Surely, the abundance of food calls to mind a certain land of plenty – a garden, if you will – from which man was cast. Indeed, could this be a heaven? Repugnant though my mind and form was hewn to be by some almighty hand, could I not be divine still? Perhaps that I am aware of my grossness, therein lies my salvation. Yes, is not the essence of sainthood the realization of one's basest instinct and its subsequent denial? Were I to cultivate my asceticism, ignore the ravening hunger inside… Would I then be worthy of this place?
Despite various machinations, mine beastly desires invariably wrested control; I gorged, therefore, I am not divine. In fact, I am the nadir to divinity’s zenith. Videlicet, I am pestilence; I pester; I am a pest. If this be heaven or below is inconsequence, A fly am I – unchangeable – nuisance to man and beast. Despite fervent, unyielding effort, I could not keep away from the detritus for which I yearned. What purpose is mine? Why must I exist as vexation incarnate to all below? Surely, this be injustice most pure; where was my choice? No hands for goodly toil. No strength with which to improve the land’s contours. Naught but the innate urge for the ravenous pilfering of sustenance. I am bereft of good. Made for selfish purpose sole. I reflect upon this and little else; my end draws nigh.
Tho’ my form withers, tho’ my mind congeals, winsome thoughts return. P’raps ‘tis the propinquity of oblivion that I espy pulchritude in this life’s décolletage. Mine disgusting nature, rendered immaterial – to me – by life’s diminishing embrace. Could it be? That only prostrate, looking up from ‘pon the soil, we ken beauty’s true visage? Is’t that all life, both gross and blithesome, assumes resplendence at the prospect of its departure? Or, hark, be it senility? I think not. I wish not. But sooth! To mine compound eye, the light appeareth more pure, the air sweeter, mine form gentler. Whate’er reason be’t for this beatific morph of disposition, ‘tis not my Gordian knot to slice. Simply, I will cherish't as time dwindles. My love and joy I freely proffer. Every bit I’ve stor’d in this ethereal span. I bid thee, whosoever thou art, a fairer passage to where, graciously, I go. Adieu, my sphere sublime. Adieu.
This is a special diner. The lovechild of haute cuisine and good, old-fashioned grub. Homemade jams (raspberry lime a favorite of mine), garlic-smothered hash browns, perfectly seasoned and prepared omelets, a salmon burger that will crush your soul. Food-wise, this is as close to diner perfection as I’ve tasted. Just the freaking best.
Reasonable beyond all measure. It’s hardly the most expensive diner in the area, but it is the best.
Smoky Art House
Yes, it’s small. Yes, it’s seat yourself. Yes, it’s smoky. This is the Fly Trap. From the funky pictures on the walls to the humongous variety of salt & pepper shakers, there is an undeniable Fly Trapness about the place. Unique in the best possible way.
The same (great) waitresses were there when I started going and remained two years later. Read into that as far as you want.
EAT OR SKIP:
When in Ferndale, do as the Ferndaleans do; go to the Fly Trap. Most days there will be lines; don’t fret. Just hang out for half an hour. It is worth it. It’s always worth it.
F: So, Len goes outside for another smoke and he leaves
me and Harry picking up the slack. We’re going slow since it’s just the two of
us, but luckily Bill shows up and starts helping out. So we’re working for a while and Bill asks
where the heck Len is. I tell him, “smoke break.” Bill stops what he’s doing
and looks at us and says, “Len don’t smoke!”
N: Did you see what Denny’s wearing?
A: Hohoho Dee’s gonna be mad!
O: Oh just a huge guy. Humongous guy. This guy was a gorilla. And who should sit right down next to him but Hollis.
D: Oh Jesus.
O: Yeah. Hollis sits down right next this humongous guy and asks “What’s cooking?”
D: What does the other guy say?
D: What did the big guy say?
O: I’m trying to remember. Well darn! I forgot.
V: Dee, how long’s this place been here?
D: Since 1985.
B: So when are you gonna decorate? (raucous laughter)
B: Eggs and rye toast and sausages if ya please!
D: It’s what you have every day!
D: So why don’t you just start saying, “the usual.”
B: Because I want eggs and rye toast and sausages!
I would describe the decor as "wharf-chic"
H: You ever watch that show Hoarders?
L: Please I’m eating...
H: Oh my gawd you have to. These people keep like everything they ever owned.
H: Oh yeah like newspapers and receipts and food wrappers…
L: Hey! I’m eating!
H: and even some keep like bags of… bags of—
K: Bags of what? Tell me.
H: (Super-loud whisper) Bags of their own poop.
L: Aw c’mon!
D: Young lady, my son could drink before you were born (raucous laughter)
D: How’s the hash dear?
I: Great. Really good.
D: Anything else I can get you?
I: Yeah, actually. Do you have any honey? These biscuits would be great with some honey.
D: Oh sure. (Comes back in a minute with honey in a shot glass with a spoon in it) Here you go, dear.
T: Vin shows up and he’s got no shoes.
J: No shoes?
T: Yeah and we had to go to work.
J: Why didn’t he have shoes?
T: I don’t know. He left them somewhere. I don’t remember.
J: Well didn’t you ask?
T: No I didn’t, that’s not the point.
J: Well why he didn’t have shoes is what I want to know.
T: That’s not what’s funny Jerry. So we try to go to work—
J: Wait. What about the shoes?
T: He didn’t have any! I’m not even gonna tell the story.
J: I’m gonna go ask vin about his shoes.
Morning beers are encouraged.
R: Hey he’s back again!
A: I never left!
P: Aw dude laste night… Me and Jimmy and Steve got all ripped up at Bubba’s.
J: Yeah man, pretty wild. Tell him about Steve.
P: I was about to! So Steve was dancing like an asshole and bam! Knocks this chick. Spills her drink all over. So her boyfriend comes over all mad pissed and started telling Steve, “pay for that. You pay for that drink.” Steve though, Steve is crushed on vodka redbulls so he says “hell no,” you know how he does with stretching out the hell super long.
S: Heeeeeellll no
P: Haha yeah, that.
J: Yeah so Paul goes after this guy out of nowhere—
P: Not out of nowhere. That dude pushed Steve.
J: No! The dude got bumped or something. I don't think he even pushed Steve.
S: I can’t remember.
P: He pushed Steve! He did! So, I get this douche in a headlock and then a group of his buddies comes up outta nowhere.
J: So we all scatter.
P: Just bolt.
J: Steve disappears though.
P: Right, so Steve is fucking gone and these guys chase me and Jim out onto Oxford Street. It’s like two in the morning and I’m still wearing an afro and Jimmy’s got his jean shorts on. The other dudes are dressed in like fake mustaches and mullets and shit. And we get like four steps out the door and we hear the dudes stop yelling behind us and we look and one of them ran into a cop! Coming out the door he just -- bam! -- slammed into a cop walking by. No shit. So we chuck into a side alley and run away. And Steve here, guess what Steve was doing.
S: I was dancing back at Bubba’s! I never stopped!
P: Hahaha like a mad bitch.
M: Hey guys.
J + S + P: Hey Mark.
M: So, I never heard from you guys last night you get up to anything good?
S: Not really.
This is stick-to-your-ribs, greasy spoon, fork and knife-type bar food. The preceding statement was a compliment.
Not to say that it’s egregiously cheap, but Ruski’s serves up a full meal at an inexpensive (some would say “dive-like”) price.
Portland Pirates Tailgate
You’re gonna meet some characters here. And if not meet, you’ll hear them. This is actually the most distinct aspect of Ruski’s. It is a local’s local joint. I almost feel bad for going there, as my hipster-y mustachioed countenance is like a foreign bug introduced to a delicate eco-system. As it stands, Ruski’s still has plenty of local flavor to experience, but the inevitable truth is that Ruski’s, as it stands, cannot last. As Portland becomes more popular (because it will) and the inevitable surface creep of gentrification continues and more people like me start frequenting, the people that make Ruski’s, Ruski’s will be forced to vacate to some other Ruski’s replacement. Let us simply hope that that replacement is nearby, and nearly as tasty.
I don’t know if that’s her name, but there was an excellent lady who treated service as it should be treated. She was nice, prompt and took no bullshit. Excellence.
EAT OR SKIP:
Eat now. Eat semi-often (if only because it is also sinfully greasy and your body is a temple). And enjoy listening to some true Mainer dialect.