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Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks (1942) is one of my favorite paintings. There’s something uniquely inspirational in the drama and mystery of strangers gathered at a late-night diner. I also like it because it’s stylistically uncluttered, focused, and full of Mad Men era nostalgia. Recently, I had to pick up some friends from the airport at 5:30 am. Because I like to be painfully early, whether to catch a flight, or to pick people up, I left at 3:00 am. Naturally, I had some time to kill, so I dropped into a nearby Waffle House to see what it might have been like to be one of Hopper’s nighthawks. And also for breakfast.
After a few minutes on the interstate, I took an offramp and made a right turn onto an empty road. The darkness was occasionally punctuated by hotel marquees, stop lights, and an unmistakeable bright, yellow-blocked Waffle House sign. I pulled into the empty parking lot and backed my Jetta under the amber glow of the lone street lamp. At least someone might see me if I got mugged.
Through the windows, I saw a man behind the bar, most likely the cook, and a young lady seated at the end of the counter reading a book. Great, I wasn’t the only nighthawk. And someone should definitely see if I get mugged. I grabbed my trusty notebook from my book-bag and headed in.