X THE DINER (aka Wheel of Fortune)

The Wheel of Fortune is all about your luck turning, about karma, destiny, the cycles of life, a turning point, right? And for me, diners have long been the place where my luck changed or I met someone who set something in motion. I’ve gone to diners when I was traveling and broke, and told them so, and often gotten a free meal or at least a free cup of coffee. I’ve gone to diners and had friends or strangers pay for my food, without my asking. I’ve gone to diners when I was lonesome, and ran into an old friend or made a new one. I’ve met people who later became my lovers at diners. I once had a stranger approach me and offer to do a tarot spread for me, and I said sure, and it was so right on it was spooky. Once, while eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation, I heard one of the most fantastic life stories I have ever heard, and I made notes about it, and I’m still planning on turning that into a story or poem one day. There have been multiple times when I sat down at a diner, thinking that’s where I was going to spend my evening, but then a friend or acquaintance would show up and say something like: “Hey, this rad band is playing a show down the street, and I can get us in free!” Or: “Hey, wanna go walk around by the lake and get stoned with me?” And hell, even on the rare occasions when all I did was sit, drinking coffee and writing for hours, that always felt like exactly what I was supposed to be doing. Oh, Marina Gardens and Frank’s in Kenosha, Ma Fisher’s in Milwaukee, Hanny’s and Olympic Restaurant in Lake Geneva, various Waffle Houses, Clarke’s (the one on Belmont) and Hollywood Grill and The Golden Nugget (and Jeri’s Grill and…) in Chicago, and really so many more across the whole country that it would take forever to list them, they’ve all been my Wheels of Fortune. Hell, an old friend once described Clarke’s by paraphrasing the World/Inferno Friendship Society, saying it was “our roulette wheel, spinning tricks and exit visas.” And she wasn’t wrong. Dammit. Now I’m craving hashbrowns and shitty coffee.

-Jessie Lynn McMains, from Major Arcana of the Punk Rock Tarot (2015)