10/5/13

Waffle House

Always a good idea!
Breakfast is my favorite meal, regardless of the time of day.  It's the meal I cook most often for myself and also the one I am most likely to reach out to friends for company if I have none.  Even though my tastes are pretty simple (usually a couple of scrambled eggs, some bacon, toast, and hash browns) I will never tire of it.  Brookside by Day is my favorite local spot, but my favorite chain is Waffle House.  This confounds just about everyone I know.  "Are you serious?" they either ask or plaster all over their facial expression.  They don't understand.  But it's like going home for me.

The genesis of this emotional attachment goes way back.  Breakfast is tied to Sunday mornings at home with everyone pitching in to help prepare the meal.  Even Dad made the eggs.  However, Waffle House came into the picture in the mid-nineties.  We took a road trip to Florida to go to Disney World and, at some point, we realized just about every highway exit in the South had a Waffle House nearby.  It became a game for my brother and I to spot them first and point them out to Mom and Dad.  Of course, we stopped a time or two as well.  Once I attached that bond, every dining visit strengthened it.  When I worked out at the Cingular/AT&T call center on the eastern edge of Tulsa, there was a Waffle House two miles away that I became a regular at.  In fact, I came in so frequently that the staff knew me by name and order.  When I left Tulsa to start my trip around the world back in 2009, it was the last place I ate at before hitting the road.

2009 with Reva and Virginia

I have fond memories in many WH locations in and around town.  The 61st/Aspen location in Broken Arrow held conversations with my old friend Tony Finley.  The 11th St location was a frequent stop for Indi and me when we were first dating; after they tore it down & turned it around, it became a memory cache for drunken 2 AM dinners.  The Mingo location is the one I visit most often these days, as it's closest to work.  Last time I went in, one of the waitresses asked why I had stayed away so long.

This morning, I woke early and had nothing planned.  Since nobody was awake or available, I decided to head out to Catoosa for old times sake.  It had been over a year since I was last in. It exists next to the Hard Rock Casino, a place full of terrible memories for me; my stomach still clenches as the old emotions flood my system. Happily, my two regular waitresses from back in the day still remembered me and gave me a hug.  "Where the heck have YOU been?" they asked.  I sat at the counter, ordered my regular, and enjoyed my meal.  "How've you been?" "How's work?" "You seein' anyone?"  It's like something out of a movie.  A comfortable place with food I enjoy and people I care about.  It's the most accurate version of comfort food I know.

Before the huge expansion


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