Man,â Mr. Sills said, then looked at Andy. âHow do you like your eggs?â
The Hungry Man was so much food that it came on two plates, with a dish of grits on the side: a stack of pancakes, two eggs over easy, bacon and sausage, and crisp white toast cut in triangles. Andy dumped syrup on his pancakes, slathered butter and jam on his toast, sprinkled hot sauce on his eggs, and ate all of it, remembering to say âThank youâ when Mr. Sills added a large orange juice and a hot chocolate to the order. He ate and ate and ate, and when he stopped he thought heâd never been so full, not even after Christmas dinners at his grandparentsâ house.
Mr. Sills, whoâd had only poached eggs and rye toast, had kept up his steady patter throughout the meal. Andy was happy to learn that he, too, liked the 76ers, especially Charles Barkley. âThe Round Mound of Rebound,â said Mr. Sills, patting his belly. Mr. Sills was round himselfâround face, round stomach, and big, thick fingers. He wore gold-rimmed glasses, and his skin was medium-brown, not as dark as Mr. Strattonâs, but not as light as Andyâs . Andyâs dad had been medium-brown, too, and sometimes Andy wondered how heâd ended up looking so much like his mother, at least in terms of color. Lots of times, when he was with his mother, white people thought he was white. Sometimes theyâd even say bad things about black people to his face, like once when Andy had said where he lived to a lady who worked at the shoe store, and sheâd crinkled her face and said, âWhy would you want to live in that neighborhood with all of them? You arenât black.â
âNo,â Lori had said, smiling sweetly, pulling Andy close, âbut his father was,â and the woman had backed away, looking shocked.
âYou like basketball?â Mr. Sills asked him.
âItâs okay,â he said, and used his napkin to make sure heâd gotten all the syrup off his chin. Mr. Sills was looking at him carefully, in a way that made Andy think that there was still some left, when Mr. Sills said, âYour dad played, you know.â
Andy was too shocked to say anything. Nobody ever talked about his father. Nobody even said the words your dad to him. Lori had hardly told him anything. âHe went into the army and he died. End of story,â she would say, the handful of times Andy had gotten brave enough to ask. He knew that his fatherâs name had been the same as his, and that his father was black, and had gone to Catholic school, and that heâd gone into the army after Andy was born and he couldnât find a job. Heâd been stationed in Germany, and heâd said he would send for Lori and baby Andy, but then heâd been killed in an accident. Where in Germany? What kind of accident? Where were his parents, and had they ever met Andy? He would ask, and Lori would shake her head, looking so sorrowful it was almost as if she was shrinking, disappearing into her black clothes right before his eyes. They didnât approve of me, she said, in a way that made Andy think that they didnât approve of him, either.
âMy dad played basketball?â Andyâs voice was husky, and both of his toes were tapping, bouncing against the dinerâs carpeted floor.
âYessir,â said Mr. Sills. âCenter. Played with my son, as a matter of fact. In high school.â
It took Andy a minute of rummaging to remember that he knew where his dad had gone to high school, because Lori had told him once. His parents had met at a high school dance and gotten married right after theyâd both graduated, his mom from Hallahan and his dad from . . .
Mr. Sills nodded.
âDid you know him?â Andy asked. âDid you know my dad?â Those words, my dad, felt so good to say that he wanted to say them as often as he could.
âI knew of him,â said Mr.
Jimmy Fallon, the Writers of Late Night