Sometimes we all need comfort food. Waffle House is the place for it.
“Good morning!” “Howdy, how are you.” “Welcome, come on in and grab a seat.” The greetings are the same for every person who walks through the door. Other restaurants have names that appeal to a person’s longings for home, but no other place is so genuinely friendly as the Waffle House.
I visited this eating establishment the Saturday morning of the U.T. versus Georgia football game. An empty seat at the counter was waiting; all the tables were filled with groups, some Big Orange fans and others Bulldog faithful. Because my literary idol is the late Lewis Grizzard, who loved UGA football, I didn’t mind sharing the area with “foreigners.” This tiny eatery was a comfortable spot to all sorts of folks. One man with a party was dressed in a suit and tie, a rather odd sight. Other folks were dressed in their game-time garb. Splashes or Georgia red clashed with the predominantly orange shirts, hats, and sweaters of most customers. Still others, like me, were dressed in either weekend work clothes or comfortable sweat pants and t-shirts. I had tugged my ball cap down to hide the fact that my hair was a mess; I had stumbled from the bed and to my truck in search of a filling breakfast.
The menu at the Waffle House is a heart attack’s delight. We Americans enjoy playing this deadly game for the sake of satisfying our appetites. Foods at this little building that might offer some healthy value, but those positives are removed during cooking. A scrumptious meal at the Waffle House is served up from vats of grease or lard on the grill. Globs of butter, bottles of ketchup, and containers filled with syrup are every bit as much staples as are salt and pepper. A person is sure to exit with his triglycerides and cholesterol racing to see which can reach stroke level first.
My waitress took orders from other customers and yelled toward the cook such words as “covered, smothered, and scattered.” I have no idea what she was communicating, but other customers smiled with the mention of the words. I was there because my body, more correctly my stomach, needed a break from the intake of items listed on the Atkins’ diet that I’d been following for a couple of weeks. I played it safe by ordering a waffle, cup of decaf, and a small orange juice. Other patrons went to the brink with their orders. I saw bowls of grits swimming in butter, bacon and link sausages accompanying two or three fried eggs over easy, and mountainous side orders of hash browns. Only occasionally did some health-conscious person order a steak with his eggs, toast, hash browns, and leaded (caffeinated) coffee. One thing we all had in common was smiles beaming from our faces when the plates were sat in front of us.
Folks also visit the Waffle House because they enjoy the time with friendly employees. Shirley was my waitress, and she was jovial and loud. She also was quick to please any customer. She greeted me with the standard “Hi, honey” and offered me a cup coffee. I placed my order, and she scooted to another man two seats down the counter. She encouraged him to buy an orange juice. Seems that the waitresses were holding a contest, and seven juice orders earned them a touchdown. It was a clever campaign on a football Saturday. The guy relented and asked for a small glass. Shirley treated those seated at her station as if they were royalty. No server at any upscale restaurant ever treated customers better.
I left the eating establishment completely satisfied. Yes, I had shoved down my throat enough carbs to fill the entire week’s allowance. At home, a bookcase, shelf, dresser, and filing cabinet awaited my return. Two coats of Hunter green paint needed to be applied. The thoughts of performing that much work on a full stomach weren’t pleasant. I preferred, instead, sitting in my chair and watching the football games that aired until the heaviness in my stomach traveled to my eyes and lead to a nap. Eventually, I struggled to my feet, found the painting supplies, and unenthusiastically jumped into the project.
The rest of that Saturday was a day I spent happy. The meal from Waffle House left me content. My hunger didn’t arise again until evening. Every once in a while a man needs good food, stuff fit for a god. That’s what I had on Saturday morning: Southern ambrosia.