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Lex and I always wondered why we went there - the torn pleather booths and chipped tabletops certinaly didn't excite our tastes for aesthetics. The food was greasy, always sitting in the bottom of your stomach for what felt like years - I am still surprised that my stomach didn't revolt.

The smoke prepetually hung in the air, turning the air gray and hazy.

The service was atrocious, sometimes to the point where waitresses would refuse to serve certain customers.

Every decrepit booth, every world-weary waitress snapping her gum impatiently, every battle of wills just to get a refill on your coffee embodied the cliche of a greasy spoon diner, but every time we wanted to go out to coffee, the automatic reaction was: "Fred's?"

We didn't know why then - we knew every inch of the dingy little restaurant, but we somehow couldn't stay away. For two years of my life, nearly every evening was spent in Fred's, playing chess or doing crosswords, bullshitting with the occasional passerby ...

And I still don't know what drew us there like an addiction. It certianly wasn't the coffee (which was, ironically, the purported reason for going out at all) ... watered-down Barista coffee can be found in every all-night diner all over the world.

Something about Fred's surpassed its pathetic exterior - something having to do with familiarity and companionship. Somehow, knowing that the regulars (people as strangely addicted as we were) would be there was a comfort, a consistancy that we were desperately searching for.

Somehow, Fred's felt like home - you didn't always like it there, but you had no choice but to return every once and a while.

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