New year, new semester, new post, new format. I think this way of keeping in touch with each other should be a lot of fun. I’m really excited to hear what new foods you make out of stolen produce from the food court. I’m also pretty excited about my herbs that are growing on my window sill now that the sun has appeared. I bought little planters for them from IKEA yesterday, so that I can replant them when they’re a little bigger. Hopefully I won’t kill them like last year. The thought of new, fresh things growing has me excited about eating more fresh foods. Unfortunately, I missed the farmers’ market up the road AGAIN. I always forget about it and regret it on Monday. Maybe I’ll make a special trip to MOM’s because I’m getting low on fresh food stuffs. And then Ennis and I will probably make a trip to TJ’s on Tuesday. I really love that he loves that place. It makes my bourgeois heart happy. You know what else makes it happy?
Seeing how giddy he got about stopping at Waffle House after seeing The Mercury Program play last night.
Oh, that black square font on a yellow background! For me, it’s the round lamps that really makes it an iconic place of late night dining. Anyway, we stopped around 12 am just for a quick bathroom break at a truck stop but the call of the greasy food was too much and we crossed the street to the beckoning light. I think if we’d been walking Ennis would have broken into a sprint. It’s been a while since he’s been to one.
We got in just as the shift changed. Apparently this bodes well. Mac got more enthusiastic. We sat in the booth and watched a “Newb” learn the condiments order on the plates. I didn’t know this, but one of their efficiency tricks is to lay out the proper plate as the order is called. An oblong plate for omelets, a small one for the toast, a larger one for waffles, etc. Then they place the condiment that goes with it in a location on the plate corresponding to the clock. Jelly goes at 12 o’clock. Mayo and a pickle on the sandwich plate. Ennis watched with fascination as the older short order cook sharply corrected a missing plate for our order. When the food came he asked the kid how long he’d been working, how he was liking it and reassured him that it would come. Ennis never worked at a Waffle House but he had friends that did and apparently the order of operations is a closely guarded secret. He had to learn it from the internet.
The food was your typical Waffle House fare. He got hash browns loaded with chili and chunks of ham. It was delicious, but really, the only reason I go there is because the nostalgia layered thick over the place. It’s one of the few places in this part of the country that retains the feeling of late night freedom and the possibilities of the road. I don’t really love the food but I do love how it makes me feel to be sipping free refills of coffee late at night in that brightly lit roadside staple. This time however, it was without smoke! Seriously! Can you imagine a Waffle House without the ashtrays and slightly smoky smell? Ennis looked around for the cigarette dispenser and was confused when he didn’t find one. It’s the first time that’s ever happened to him.
When we walked out he commented that it felt like taking a step back into his old world for a little while. I can see how Waffle House could stand out in someone’s memories of teenage nights, staying up, drinking cheap coffee and smoking an endless amount of cigarettes while the nights pass you by. I definitely get it.
This morning however, he was running toward the bathroom with a different sense of urgency. I guess Thomas Wolfe was right, you can never go home again, especially not if that home happened to be the Waffle House.
That’s all the eating I’ve done here. I’m about to go to Matchbox with Nixon though, so I might write about that later.