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  • My family ate "out" a lot throughout my childhood. Mostly we went to a small handful of restaurants, including Friendly's. "Famous" for ice-cream, they also served mediocre breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods. What I loved, with all my heart, were the Breakfast Potatoes - gloriously greasy, round little fried patties of potato, about 1.5 times the size of a quarter. When my plate arrived, I'd line them up on a napkin and nibble around their edges, one by one, savoring each and growing increasingly anxious as my supply dwindled.

    As semi-regulars, we got to know the Friendly's servers over time. Suzy was especially nice, and cheerful, and always took the time to linger at our table and joke around. My parents would leave her enormous tips, and even hired her to stay with me and my sisters once, while they traveled around England. I remember she had long, long hair that was usually tied up in a bun. And that one night she emptied their jacuzzi-bathtub of the stuffed animals, piles of old clothes, and other random household items that had collected in there, and actually used it. We were so impressed. Suzy was so cool.

    But at some point not long after that, she just kind of disappeared from our lives. Maybe we stopped frequenting Friendly's. Maybe she quit her job, or got married, or went to school, or moved away. I simply don't remember, and doubt I'd recognize her if we crossed paths today.

    This morning I bought some fried patties of potato at an establishment better known for its donuts. This place calls them hash browns. They were decently crisp and even a little bit seasoned with pepper and some indistinguishable dried herb, but they were no Breakfast Potatoes.

    Still, they reminded me of Suzy, and I got to thinking about what it must have been like to get to know my family, and pocket a generous tip each time we supped, and then eventually be entrusted to care for three young girls while my parents vacationed, far away. It seems so unlikely, like something that could never happen today. It seems a little crazy.

    What did she think of us? Where did she disappear to? Is she happy in her life? What is Suzy doing right now?
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