David Lynch breakfast

I read once that filmmaker David Lynch would eat burgers and suck milkshakes every day at a kitsch Bob’s Big Boy in Los Angeles—until his epiphany as to the unhealthiness of his diner vice.

Keeping this in mind, I drive up into the foothills on a recent Friday morning for breakfast. Auburn is only 45 minutes from Sacramento, but it’s strangely different, like existing inside a Fox News online chat room.

It’s just after 9. A bizarre, sporadic sprinkle mists foreheads and windshields. Inside a Rite Aid off Highway 49, a thin, aging man wearing an Air Force cap plops two plastic vodka bottles on the conveyor belt and the clerk, Becky, cheerfully scans the booze.

“All this snow on the TV and the government wants us to believe global warming,” the man complains, his jowls jiggling.

“I know, what a farce,” Becky replies.

“I mean, the whole East Coast is a white blanket!” the veteran exclaims, incredulous, growing angrier.

Usually, I’m smarter than the guy who gets into a fight with a right-wing hick, but for some reason I try to explain to the old man that, actually, the extreme and unprecedented snowstorms in the East Coast this winter are in fact symptoms of climate change, not a sham. Startled, the old guy looks at me like I’m speaking Cantonese. Becky’s silent, perhaps embarrassed, while ringing up my gum and cash back.

I’m at the Rite Aid because Katrina’s Cafe, a down-home joint a block up, doesn’t take cash. Mom, my omelet date, doesn’t have green. The wait at Katrina’s is an impressive 40 minutes. A 50-something patron sports an Obama-Karl Marx ’08 T-shirt while shoveling potatoes and eggs.

Mom’s impatience reaches a head, so we give up and leave for Wings Grill & Expresso Bar, an off-the-beaten-path hideaway where you can watch propeller-engine planes shoot into the clouds and inhale overly crispy swine to your cardiac arrest’s delight.

Wings is charming. Two 60-plus-year-old Auburn sheriffs sip joe. There isn’t a salmon-colored porcelain toilet like at Katrina’s, but its titanic omelets are made with at least six eggs. There’s more cheese than at a local comedy-troupe performance.

Seemingly out of nowhere, four graying men in white tuxedos with red vests and bow ties with rose corsages stumble in, like a scene from Mulholland Drive. Heads turn. They settle in at an adjacent table and order blueberry muffins and coffee.

The waitress hands my mom their business card; it’s a “singing Valentines” chorus, members of the Nevada Placer Barbershop Harmony Society. And, for sure, the dapper choir is up harmonizing for Wings diners just minutes later. “Hello, Mary Lou / goodbye, heart. / Mary Lou, I’m so in love with you,” they sing. Then, a customer pays $35 for a Valentine’s love song for his wife.

The sheriffs chuckle amongst each other. Plane after plane launches into the sky. My mom reveals that she doesn’t care about climate change. The omelet is cheesy and wet and the rye toast delectably buttery. It’ll kill you, but it’s delicious all the same.