Peter, In The Buff: Tom’s Diner by Peter Hoffman

On the corner of 112th and Broadway a familiar red neon sign glows, leading hoards of students and tourists through its doors. Perhaps they’re hoping to find Jerry, Elaine, George, or Kramer huddled together in a booth, ordering pie and coffee. Or perhaps they’ve come to hear the man behind the counter tell them “It is always nice to see you!” However, I’ve come here for neither of these things. I have come for buffalo sauce.

Unfortunately, Tom’s Restaurant does not have buffalo sauce.

Yes, buffalo sauce: the deep orange, spicy sauce that I’ve become addicted to, craving it at all hours of the day and night, telling my friends while I am deep in withdrawals that “it’s time to buff.”

There was no buffing happening at Tom’s this summer as I met a friend there for a late lunch. She, a Seinfeld fan visiting from Ohio, was excited to be in the famed diner. I was not, as I’d been before to scarf down a pile of (decent) sweet potato fries and because I walk past it every day. My excitement grew as I noticed CHICKEN WINGS front and center on the menu – my mouth instantly drooling at the idea of being able to buff.

Usually when ordering chicken wings you are asked “Mild, medium, or hot?” in relation to the spiciness of the sauce. At Tom’s, that is not the case. “I’ll have the chicken wings,” I said, as I folded the menu and handed it back. “Oh, we don’t have buffalo sauce, just plain chicken wings.” Plain chicken wings? I’m not sure what that means, and I didn’t want to find out. Plain? Chicken wings? Does that mean fried? Does that mean they are grilled? I stared blankly at the server, who then told me her daughter always gets the chicken wings to go and then puts Frank’s hot sauce on them when she gets home, but that the diner just doesn’t have any hot sauce. She must have known that I needed to buff.

I turned to the horoscope and waited for her to pour my coffee. I ordered nothing, my friend ordered a veggie wrap.

I’m still waiting to buff on campus.

Peter Hoffman likes to eat and drink, and does it professionally.

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