The couple at the next booth showed up for a regular 9:30 breakfast date at 8:30.
"We forgot to turn our clocks back," the husband lamented to Rabi.
Rabi replied, "That's what happens when you get old. You can't focus."
After debating whether to return home, the couple decided to stay and drink coffee. With a wink to me, Rabi returned to their table and told the man, "Here's a snack for you."
It was a small container of chopped onions. (He usually asks for them with his meal.)
Soon, Larry Toothaker, a retired dentist with an appropriate name who is a Rabi's regular, stopped at the couple's booth. "I come here to get abuse," he said sympathetically.
"It keeps me going through the day," the man agreed.
Returning from the restroom, Toothaker stopped at my table to relate a story about hot-air hand dryers.
"They had these when I went to dental school in Milwaukee," he said. "Some wag put a sign on the button that said, `Push here for a message from the dean."'
Meanwhile, Rabi escorted a male customer to the couple's booth and, as he stood there dolefully, she read aloud the motto on his T-shirt: "I'm too good looking to be this old."
"Please," Rabi said dismissively. "Go back to your cage." He returned silently to his table.
A newcomer arrived, saw the couple and joined them.
Glancing about the table, he remarked: "I see you've already got onions for your coffee."
I'm glad I didn't oversleep and miss all this.
ISABEL ALLENDE, the novelist, spoke via webcast from the Bay Area to some 75 people in Pomona last Thursday evening about her book "Zorro," the city's Together We Read book choice.
Published in 2005, the novel is a prequel to the saga that began with a 1919 story that led to movies, a TV series, comic books and other spinoffs concerning the masked adventurer in 1840s California.
Allende is best known for "The House of the Spirits" and other literary works. She was commissioned by the company that controls Zorro to write the book.
Why did a serious writer agree to such a commercial proposition?
"I was hoping to meet Antonio Banderas," Allende joked. The handsome actor portrayed the character in two latter-day movies.
The Chilean-born writer said Zorro was an important presence in her childhood and that her stepfather, a diplomat, used to end meetings promptly at 3:30 p.m. solely to catch "Zorro" reruns.
The appeal of the character, she said, is that "he has no special powers. He's not Spider-Man. He's just a fellow who puts on a mask and a cape and fights for justice. He could be any of us."
Fans of Batman often use the same reasoning to explain why they love him above other comic book characters. There's good reason for the similarity: Zorro expert Sandra Curtis, who joined Allende for the appearance, said Batman's creator told her he got the idea for Batman, who debuted in 1939, from Zorro.
"He wears the same kind of cape, he lives in a cave, he fights for justice," Curtis said. And don't forget the dynamic heroes' alter egos as bored 1 percenters.
Draw your own conclusions at 7 p.m. Friday when the 1940 version of "The Mark of Zorro," with Tyrone Power and Basil Rathbone, is shown at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 242 E. Alvarado St. in Pomona. Admission is free. Should be an interesting contrast for those of us who also saw the 1920 silent version last month with Douglas Fairbanks.
In Batman lore, incidentally, "The Mark of Zorro" was the movie young Bruce Wayne was watching with his parents the night they were murdered.
Early next year, Together We Read volunteers will begin kicking around ideas for the next book. Toward the end of Thursday's talk, Allende was asked by moderator David Kipen, "What book would you recommend that all of Pomona read next October?"
"Oh, it has to be one of mine," Allende cracked. "Absolutely."
- The Pink Floyd tribute band Shine On will perform the band's 1973 album "Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety, as well as other Floyd hits, at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Grove Theater, 276 E. Ninth St. in Upland. Tickets are $15 to $40.
- Ibsen's "A Doll's House," a proto-feminist play from 1879 about a disillusioned housewife, will be staged at 8 p.m. Nov. 15 and 16, 2 and 8 p.m. Nov. 17 and 2 p.m. Nov. 18 at Pomona College's Seaver Theater, 300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont. Tickets: $10 general, $5 students and seniors.
MENTION HERE of actor Richard Kiel and his role as the villain Jaws in the James Bond movie "The Spy Who Loved Me" - which can be seen at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Ontario's Ovitt Library - reminded reader Don of a local story involving the actor.
The towering Kiel was an occasional visitor to his sister's home in Ontario and was known to her neighbors as an actor. On this particular visit in January 1979, Kiel was housesitting and 6-foot-9 actor Ted Cassidy, best known as Lurch on "The Addams Family," had just died.
On his way back from a beer run, the next-door neighbor saw the 7-foot-1 Kiel bringing in the trash cans and screamed in shock, "You're dead! You're dead!" and ran inside in a panic.
Kiel told Upland journalist Pat Jankiewicz that he was happy to have had a walk-on role in the man's sobriety.
David Allen writes Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, which should also sober you up. Reach him via email or at 909-483-9339, read his blog, check out his Facebook page and follow @davidallen909 on Twitter.