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[whitespace] donuts Carbo Cravings: Millie's on a quest to curb those late-night munchies.

Elana Koff

Millie's cravings get the best of him

By Millie

Late at night, when a deep blackness blankets the city--it strikes. Millie wakens with a start. A mysterious gnawing, a burning, an ache from inside. Millie recognizes it immediately--hunger. Millie rousts his companion, some actor/model/Starbucks coffee-jerk picked up on a recent afternoon at the beach. With Millie's signature cape flowing behind them, they make a grand exit and descend to the glamorous 1973 Ford Pinto parked on the street. In a puff of exhaust, they're off to satisfy Millie's deepest, darkest cravings.

The quest begins at the corner of Geary and Mason, at the Pinecrest, San Francisco's longest-running 24-hour eatery. Just blocks off Union Square and only a few doors down from ACT's beautiful Geary Theater, the Pinecrest feels like a truck-stop diner in Anytown, USA. Brightly lit and char-scented, with knotty-pine-linoleum tables, it's straight out of David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Like your diner with a creepy, campy plot line? The Pinecrest doesn't disappoint. A few months ago the chef took a pistol and blew away a veteran waitress of 20 years who mistakenly ordered poached eggs. (Hint: Don't order poached eggs.) Madelyne, a gruff but sweet waitress, opines: "It was pretty awful. But business sure has picked up ever since."

Next stop: Happy Donuts at Third and King. Conveniently located in the heart of San Francisco's club scene, Happy Donuts is like a brightly lit VIP room in the most mixed-up after-party place in town. Trendy hipsters, alterna-punks, muscle queens and hip-hop MCs, all speeding out of control, chatter like birds as they wait in line to purchase donuts of all stripes. (Plain old glazed donuts are the top seller.) And what donut shop would be complete without San Francisco's finest slumped over lukewarm coffee? An overweight patrolman and two motorcycle cops survey the scene from a nearby booth and then turn sullenly back to their chocolate crullers. Pulling overtime, no doubt.

Moments later the 1973 Ford Pinto is hurtling down Geary, Millie behind the wheel, his best fella asleep in the back seat. At Geary and Masonic, it's the Lucky Penny Coffee Shop. Millie makes a dramatic entrance, shouting out in sacred 24-hour-greasy-spoon speak, "Double sunshine on a slow boat with gas--leaded." The prehistoric waitress just bustles off to the kitchen leaving a trail of dust and dandruff behind. Millie looks around. Lucky Penny is all dark colors, plastic plants and plodding Muzak, the perfect place for the clinically depressed and those planning mass suicides. The waitress brings two eggs over-easy on toast with strong coffee, but there's been a terrible mistake. Millie ordered a double cheeseburger on a French roll with relish. Lucky Penny regulars might take this as a cue to sob silently, or repeatedly stab a fork into their palm, or even take out a pistol and blow their brains out. Millie, however, is somewhat better adjusted. He politely accepts the blame, eats his meal and stiffs the waitress.

Still not satisfied, Millie tries Orphan Andy's at 17th and Castro. The line out front is formidable, but thanks to a waitress who doubles as Millie's tax accountant, a party of four quickly becomes a party of five as Millie squeezes in and gets familiar. Fifteen minutes later, Millie's new friends have laughed, cried, shared their innermost feelings, forgiven each other and forgiven themselves, and the food still hasn't come. This place is exhausting, Millie thinks. Sure, Orphan Andy's is a gay-culture landmark--think '70s disco boys converging after all-night parties. But it's time to update your look, Andy. A fresh coat of paint, a new menu, a new name--how about Johnny Rockets? Just a suggestion.

Finally, Millie finds himself sitting at the counter at Sparky's, the venerable all-niter on Church near Market. A delicious ham sandwich on rye with melted cheese and potato salad with water chestnuts hit the spot, and Millie's insane cravings are satisfied--for now. "I don't know where they come from," Millie complains to kooky waiter/comedian Bob McIntyre. "Maybe you're pregnant," responds Bob. "Unlikely," says Millie, glancing at his hunky boyfriend lying awkwardly across three stools nearby. "But it's not for lack of trying."

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From the April 20-May 3, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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