good morning and welcome to the waffle house

I woke up around 0530 this morning. I don’t sleep as much as I used to, though I generally sleep better. I have fewer nightmares, which is good. Fewer and less intense. And I seem to be better at remembering good dreams. This morning I remember dreaming about ordering breakfast at a Waffle House.

I’m sitting here in the kitchen in the heart of the American Midwest, drinking my cold brew coffee, craving hash browns, covered and chunked. Unless you’ve spent some time in a Waffle House–which is to say, unless you’ve lived in the American South–that won’t mean much to you. It’s probably been twenty years since I’ve set foot in a Waffle House, but I know in my bones I can walk into any Waffle House in any town and ask for hash browns covered and chunked, and they’ll know exactly what I want. It’s not code, exactly; it’s culture. I could make my own hash browns, of course. I could add some diced up ham and cover it all with melted cheese. But it wouldn’t be the same.

It’s 44F this morning. Unreasonably and unseasonably chilly, so I’ve been forced to put on socks and sweat pants–which I sorta kinda resent (I mean, c’mon, we’re three weeks into May, for fuck’s sake) and sorta kinda enjoy (it’s not so much the warm feet, although I like that; it’s that brief delicious pleasure of sliding my feet into warm socks). It feels like a late October morning in the South. The cat clearly thinks the chilly weather is bullshit, so is seeking extra attention this morning. I’m okay with that. Cats are warm.

The cool weather and the Waffle House dream have me feeling particularly nostalgic and Southern today. I enjoy the quiet too much to put on music, but in my head I’ve been hearing Mahalia Jackson, Mattie Moss Clark, and Tennessee Ernie Ford singing gospel music. I’m not even remotely Christian, but that was the Sunday morning music I grew up with. Snatches of Just a Closer Walk with Thee will drift through my head for a while this morning. As the sun comes up and the coffee disappears and the cat retreats to some quiet spot where she can curl up and sleep undisturbed, that music will gradually fade away again.

There. I’ve rinsed out my coffee mug. I’ve done today’s Wordle. I’ve read all the news I want to read (it’s still to early to read the news and pay attention; I’ll come back to it later, when I’m more willing to deal with reality). The sun has come up enough that I can turn off the kitchen lights. I’d say it’s time to start getting on with the day, but that sounds like I have some sort of plan or agenda to be accomplished. I don’t. I’ll read a bit, maybe go for a bike ride, give some thought to what to prepare for supper, do a few household chores. Since I woke up early, at some point I may take a nap.

There’s a verse of the gospel song Just a Closer Walk with Thee that rarely gets included in the more popular covers. It goes:

Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?

I know the lyric is meant to suggest the Lord cares, but since I don’t believe in any lord, I like to interpret the lyric as more tolerant and forgiving. It’s not a license to fuck up, but it acknowledges the universality of fucking up. Everybody fucks up. And everybody is welcome at the Waffle House. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done, if you ask for your hash browns chunked and covered, that’s what you’ll get.

11 thoughts on “good morning and welcome to the waffle house

  1. The Waffle House I remember, from years ago growing up in the mid-west, was the place we ended up after the bars closed down. :) Thank you for sharing your morning with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So strange that this morning I was thinking of Waffle House, as I was basting my breakfast eggs. I was just pining away for a Waffle House breakfast, where someone else cook and cleans, where the food is reliably good, and the hash browns didn’t require my own kitchen gymnastics. I’d have had a side of crisp-cooked bacon. But this is Sunday in the deep red South, and I know for certain that my local Waffle House is a Covid haven. So you and I, we’ll just keep dreaming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Covid has been brutal everywhere. Waffle House has been so consistently open during all manner of natural disasters, that FEMA actually has a Waffle House Index to determine the severity of the disaster. But the slow-rolling invisible Covid kneecapped the chain. And, of course, GOP governors made everything worse.


  3. I’m from Buffalo. I like my hash browns with onions, no ham, no cheese. No Waffle Houses here yet, unless one of our new Buffalo Bills has his way & I’ll never set foot inside of it. Gimme a nice Greek restaurant & a souvlaki breakfast, marinated beef grilled just so & eggs over easy with my hash browns with onions & thick slices of Italian bread & the best coffee known to man.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the regional differences in breakfast. There was a small breakfast/lunch diner I used to frequent in Dover, NH that served real actual honest corned beef hash at breakfast. It was amazing.


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