In a wave of exhaustion and sick tummies, dinner at the Johnsons was a pathetic affair: two people opted to just go to sleep, and one heated up some canned soup.
So it was no surprise when, at 9:08 pm, John heard Vicky negotiating a trip to IHOP in the morning. He missed most of the conversation, hearing only the reference to his comfort food, breakfast. In a moment, everybody was out of their pajamas and standing in front of me, disbelief in their eyes that I would not accompany them on an adventure to Waffle House.
Let me clarify that one does not go to Waffle House for the food. I mean, the waffles are good enough, and the coffee, when it’s not burnt, is adequate coffee. Everything else, eggs, bacon, toast, is pretty standard stuff. If you’re hungry, it’ll work. If you’re hungry for entertainment, you’ll hit the jackpot.
I must point out that none of the Waffle Houses in our little burg are easily accessible. The population is growing at breakneck speed, the roads are expanding, and the three Waffle Houses have suffered the fate of over development, resulting in terrible access for the roadside diners. I say this merely to make the point that one does not casually end up at the Waffle House, there must be intent and execution.
Our choice did not fail us in the entertainment department. Evidently, there are plenty of people with nothing better to do at 10 o’clock Thursday night. I can’t speak for the employees, who have to work (well, that actually opens up an interesting topic: just how desperate for a job are these people, to isolate themselves in an industry that requires tips?). My fears for their earnings were unwarranted, since there was plenty of activity. I’ll forgo mocking the very countrified waitress, and her obvious frustration with a new, and very inept short-order cook. There would be no fanciful orders for scattered, smothered, covered and chunked hash browns tonight.
First, Vicky immediately hits the jukebox, so she can torture me with Johnny Cash songs. A glance around the diner tells me that the other patrons just might share my opinion. Understand that the Waffle House, open 24 hours and usually situated next to an interstate, is probably accurately referred to as a truck stop. The thing is, I rarely see truckers there, if we’re going by stereotypes.
The booth next to us was occupied by an African-American couple, and the woman’s mother. I recognized the man from a billboard advertising a local church. He must be doing well because I don’t know many people that drive Jaguars, dress to the nines, and eat at Waffle House. Then again, we all save where we can.
I couldn’t help overhearing their conversation. The mother was dissatisfied with her order. It seems they forgot to put meat in her BLT sandwich. Um. Yeah.
Our own repast was momentarily interrupted by a young, hip-looking, equally well-dressed man. If I threw out the stereotype about the truckers, then the notion that urban blacks only listen to rap quickly followed. He wanted to know the title of a song that we played. Something with a really good fiddle. "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band!
Waffle House never fails to deliver. We came, we saw, we ate. Where else can you get cheap dinner theater?