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The Romance Waffle House

When I was dating Jay, we lived 250 miles apart. Most of our time together was crammed into two weekend days, and a periodic Monday holiday. He worked for his dad during the day, and then worked a graveyard shift at a pasta factory. In addition to becoming a pasta expert, he became a zombie. He didn't sleep enough, didn't eat enough, and didn't get nearly enough face time with his beautiful girlfriend.

Looking back, it's hard to believe I fell in love with him and knew he was who I wanted to spend my life with--the way that he was. He was nothing like he is now. You could say I saw the diamond in the rough. He really was just as wonderful in my eyes then---but after we were married and he got sleep and food on a regular basis, people started commenting on how wonderful and delightful he turned out to be. I like to think it was all me. Because I like to think everything is all me.

But it wasn't. It was more like how I'm an ogre when I'm pregnant and really, I'm a delightful person aside from those 9 months. And the 1 month before and two months after....
J realizes that a regular dosage of chocolate, and a good year will get me back to my normal wonderful self.

Back when I was young and spry and in love, I thought it was the greatest thing to take J to work at 11 pm and be there in the parking lot at 7 am to pick him up. WITH makeup on. He couldn't pay me enough for that kind of service now.

One of those times he jumped in the car smelling like vermicelli and rigatoni, we were recently engaged and he leaned in close to me and said, "what color are your eyes?" I put the car in reverse and replied, "Blue, same as they've been every single time you've ever leaned in to gaze lovingly at them, or kiss me. Why?" He leans back in his chair and says, "Oh, because one of the guys I worked with asked me what color your eyes were when I told him I got engaged, because he says that's how he knows when a man really loves a woman, he knows what color her eyes are. I guessed blue and I was right!"

My heart skipped a beat. So romantic.

Another one of those early morning pasta pick-ups, J wanted to take me to a nearby Waffle House before going home. To this day, I'm not entirely clear on why he liked it, but I know it was something he really wanted to do. I don't feel bad for not knowing because I'm certain if today, someone asked him what color my eyes are, he'd still have to guess his answer.

We went there. I don't remember the food. I think I enjoyed the hashbrowns. I vaguely remember the setting. I remember sitting across from the emaciated, sleep-deprived love of my life and not caring that he ate bacon like a caveman. Boy have things changed.

Fast forward nearly 5 years. I am driving our 3 year old to an "ABC Art" class (which Benja subsequently called his "1234 Learn" class and "ABCD Painting" class) and pass a Waffle House. In my rush to get two kids fed, dressed, clean, and out the door before 9 am, I hadn't eaten. So I was hungry. After dropping off Benja and wrestling Avee back into her carseat because we do NOT leave Benja in a roomful of toys and other kids and expect her to leave willingly, I headed back toward Waffle House.

My heart still fluttered a bit from the memory of sitting across a booth from my true love, watching him lick ketchup from the corners of this mouth and dip toast in runny eggs, and thinking it was all charming. I scooped up my still yelling Avee and headed inside.

There were about 10 other guests there and at least that many employees behind the counter. A girl quickly came and was ready to take my order. She tried to talk to Avee who wasn't interested in conversation as much as she was in trying to stab my ribs with a fork. The waitress asked me how old Avee was. I said 21 months. "Oh man, she's leetle. She's soo leetle, is she okaaay? Why is she so leetle?" You mean, why do I, a 5'11", non-petite woman have such a small child, or do you really think she's so little that something must be wrong? I. don. know. Finally she took my order. I then watched her walk 3 feet away to the grill and prepare our food. While she was doing it, another girl walked by and untied her apron. Our waitress swore at her. Three feet away. About 10 feet away another lady opened up a swinging door and proceeded to yell out the name of every employee that was behind the counter that she could see. Loudly. Repeatedly. NOBODY responded to her. She just went away. Another waitress yelled across the restuarant "AMBER, TABLE 4 NEEDS A COFFEE REFILL!!!" Amber was cooking my hashbrowns, elbow deep in potatos. The yeller was next to the coffee pot, NEXT to table 4, counting her tips.

That same lady later went over the the fridge and retrieved 3 big strips of bacon, slapped them on the grill, started to walk past us and stopped to coo at Avee. She took Avee's face in her hands and then rubbed her hands all over Avee's "adorable red hair". I almost threw up. It's not like Avee hasn't had nastier things in her hair, or even more elaborate food concoctions---but SHE put them there. Not some grown, bacon-fat hands, stranger woman.

Avee dropped her coat on the floor and I almost threw up again. In their defense, I am like 19 or 20 weeks pregnant (yes, I really don't know) so I'm sure "almost throwing up" comes a little more easily but not THAT easily. The floor was disgusting. Almost too disgusting for my $12.99, 3 year old Payless shoes even.

Avee dumped water all over the table and at the same moment our waitress walked by and said in passing, "everything okay?" and kept walking. I actually laughed at that. Why even ask?

Avee's waffle wasn't cooked in the center, fortunately she's a pretty consistent edge-eater so it didn't matter.

It's hard to mess up hashbrowns, so my food was fine.

As I left, I couldn't believe I had eaten there before and RETURNED. I'm totally curious now what J's attraction to the place was. Maybe it had something to do with mine and Avee's meal, with tip, costing $10. It must be. Even though he didn't/doesn't know what color my eyes are, I DO know that boy loves to pinch a penny 'til it squeals.

I taught you were 5 foot 10 and 3/4 inches! :-D

I think I would have thrown up at the bacon-fat-hair-cooer-stranger too. Yuck!

Tanks for the laugh Loveya!

Awww, how romantic! You are so cute together, you both did real good.
I was looking through your archive (because that's the way I stalk you best), your "this is for Big T..." post, which remains one of my favorites, BUT anyway, you have changed so much, look how thin J was (he needed you dude), and you, look at all that red hair! I keed!.It’s all you baby, all you.

She's soo leetle, LOL. Greasy bacon fingers? Gross.

Are you really an ogre while pregnant? This sounds like "taking some liberties" to me. I have known you to be nothing other than lovely.

SUch a sweet story. How come you don't know how far along you are? Are you like me and don't go to the doctor until you're 20 weeks??

The nerve of that waitress! Bacon fingers! That's even grosser than Avee drinking out of the toilet this evening. I mean... at least it's OUR toilet! Who KNOWS where that lady's hands have been!

minus the J, avee, and payless shoes I had the exact same experience the time I tried A waffle house.nasty doesn't begin to describe it. when u come lets try the one on front street ;0

"She's so leeetle. Ees she reeally a meedgeeet?" No, I'm starving her. "Oh. Should I call ceee peee essss?" Only if you wash your lardy fingers first, you vulgar thing. "Hey, don' make me get my manager Leeeenda out heeere. She weell seeet on you." Out comes 300-pound Linda, who was in back beating up on a side of beef. "Ees thees the juan who was complaining?" "Si, Leenda. Geev her what-for."

Yeah, I don't think I'd be going back either. Too much drama.

Did you not know that I used to be a server at Waffle House? Honest! During training you are actually encouraged to stand as far away from the cook as possible and yell your order out loud. If you were lucky and you got the good cook your food would come out exactly has you had screamed it at him 10 minutes earlier. If you go the bad cook, your hash brown could come out dices and smashed instead of smothered and coveredd! I also don't think anyone ever actually tipped the recommended amount, especially not the college students who would come in on Friday Night All You Can Eat for $6.99. Yep, that place was disgusting then, too!

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