Not our WEDDING anniversary---we just celebrated our 29th---but our WAFFLE HOUSE Anniversary of the Christmas Day that we moved from Alabama to Indiana. I’ve told you about our ongoing love affair with Waffle House HERE, from Christmas Day, 1990, when we were on the road to our new life here. We’ve had countless breakfasts there since, sometimes at midnight, if the whim strikes.
So, this past Saturday, the day-after-Christmas, we braved the sleety day to go and celebrate our TWENTY-FIVE years in this wonderful, adopted place.
We walked in onto the slippery, slidey tile floors---wet with countless footsteps, and were embraced by that unmistakable aura of good coffee, sizzling bacon, and the welcoming bright waitresses and cooks.
We were seated beneath the only PINK-painted lamp in the house, with fanciful snowflakes giving our table an unaccustomed rosy glow.
The windows had all been painted from the inside with festive scenes---wreaths and drums and ornaments, reminding me so fondly of a nice boy from my childhood, whose great talent for chalk-drawing was amazing---he’d come into our classrooms after school, painting blackboard after blackboard with scenes of elves and Santa, or Easter bunnies on bright green hills, or hay-shocks and pumpkins. It seemed so magical to walk in one morning to such happy pictures, like strolling into one of those Easter eggs with the tiny dioramas inside.
Waffle Houses are always filled with a cheerful energy, with scurryings and lively banter and rushing to get that good hot food out HOT.
Our own server, Brittney (hoping that’s spelled correctly, for she confided that her name tag had broken, and she’d caulked it twice, and was waiting for a new one---a thought that I found absolutely charming and sweet) was swift and cheery and quite interested when we told her it was our “anniversary of Waffle House.”
As she sped and skidded on those continuously-mopped floors, we told her of our tradition, and then, as she went back into the cooking area, we could hear the words “anniversary” several times, including once from the booth just ahead of me, where sat a nice couple having their own breakfast.
Chris ordered his usual waffle, pouring the warm syrup into all the little “hotels”---old family joke---and easy eggs with grits and bacon and that fabulous dark raisin toast, fire-blasted and buttered between and triangled onto a saucer with apple butter.
I veered from my always Western, and had just the hash-browns, choosing four of the toppings, and having to consult the menu for the proper titles: scattered (shoved around the griddle til delightfully crisp and separate) covered (cheese), smothered (sautéed onions) and topped (lovely rich red chili).
We ate and talked and made a few pictures, just for here, and as the couple next to us left, they congratulated us on our years together, saying that they’d been together thirty years “I used to do his homework,” she confided, “and we’re getting married next year.” So congratulations all round and many smiles and good feelings.
On one of Brittney’s return trips with that ever-filled pot, she handed us our ticket. “I told my manager Nate about your anniversary, and he’s paid your bill,” she said.
What a lovely thing! We were simply overflowing with thanks, and as we prepared to leave, we asked to meet Nate and thank him. He came out and stood behind the register as we repeated the story, with all the staff gathered round. I don’t talk very loud, but I could hear “AWWWW,” from several places around the room, and as we headed for the door, I waved and said Bye, and it seemed that the whole room chimed in, waving and calling out.
And that’s our Anniversary visit to the Golden Torches--familiar beacons along every highway. Stop in sometime, and be sure to have the scattered, smothered, covered and topped.