It demands no less than that

"Waffle House customers consume 2 percent of the total eggs produced in the United States for foodservice use. That is more than 185,000,000 eggs every year – 500,000 eggs every day – 20,833 eggs every hour – 347 eggs every minute and five eggs every second.”

I read that paragraph from the Waffle House site to a friend of mine. He thought for a minute, taking a sip from his can of Sam’s Choice Dr. Thunder. At last, he spoke.

“Respect the Waffle House,” he said, “for it demands no less than that. Imagine how many people have gotten meals there at 4 a.m. I wonder how many DUIs they’ve prevented. How many families have stopped there during cross-country trips.”

“It’s true,” I said, reading from the PR list. “Since 1955, they’ve served 957 million cups of coffee and 123 million T-bones. ‘If you used all of the eggs Waffle House serves in a year to make a cheese omelet, it would weigh 28 tons and would need 185 million slices of cheese.’ Wow.”

“You must respect the Waffle House,” my friend repeated. “You mock it only at your peril.”

“I love Waffle House,” I said, getting a bit defensive. “If I was in Snellville, Ga., or North Vernon, Ind., it’d be my first choice.”

“You liar,” my friend said. “You’d go to White Castle or Steak ’n’ Shake.”

“Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t,” I said. “I only go to White Castle because the girls who work there are so pretty. I don’t even really like their food that much anymore.”

“You lie again,” my buddy said. “I’ve seen you polish off a sack of White Castles as recently as a few months ago. I question your sudden loyalty to Waffle House.”

“I only go to the White Castle at 16th and Illinois,” I said, “and that’s because I do research for my novel there. I only order coffee. My doctor warned me about steam-grilled burgers with onions. I’ve eaten so many of them, any more could cause a fatal embolism to form in my brain.

“And the last time I was at Steak ’n’ Shake was about five years ago, when I went to meet someone there,” I said.


“Remember that punk-rock girl we used to know? She needed $500 to pay her probation fees so she wouldn’t go to jail, and I had $500, so I gave it to her. I met her at Steak ’n’ Shake and gave her the money. I remember she had the chicken strips.”

“That makes it even worse,” my buddy said, scrounging through my fridge, unsuccessfully, for a beer. “Only a dumbass would give money to a drunk punk-rocker. I do remember her. They should have locked her up long ago anyway. And then they should have thrown you in jail for being so stupid.”

“Anyway,” I said, “you should never question my allegiance to Waffle House. Remember when I was getting highway narcolepsy?”

“Yeah,” my friend said. “I always thought you’d take out a school bus full of nuns some day.”

“Well, I used to stop at the Waffle House in Shelbyville all the time,” I said. “They even knew me by name. They’d brew up a double-strength pot of coffee just for me and then I’d take a packet of Mini-Thins. That’s where I first started to appreciate the genius that is Waffle House. Wendy. That’s the name of the waitress who’d make the coffee for me.”

“OK,” my friend said. “Jesus Christ. Calm down.”

“I’ve been everywhere, man,” I said. “Franklin. Martinsville. Rising Sun. Madison. Evansville. And everywhere I’ve gone, there’s been a Waffle House there to give me a T-bone, some eggs, a few cups of coffee and some hash browns. I’d walk across the street to the Amoco and get a pack of smokes and I’d be on my way. Capitalism at its finest.”

“Read me some more Waffle House facts,” my friend said.

“Do you know who’s eaten at Waffle House? Jay-Z, Beyonce, LeeAnn Rimes, Emmitt Smith, former President Bush and Reese Witherspoon,” I said. “‘The Waffle House System operates more than 1,470 restaurants in 25 states.’”

“See?” my friend said. “The Waffle House demands your respect. You must treat it more respectfully in the future.”

“Sir,” I said, “I take offense to this and I must now ask you to leave. Good day.”

“What the hell?” he said, as I ushered him towards the door.

“I said, GOOD DAY.” I closed the door.

I turned on all the monitors, the police scanner and the Internet feeds. Finally, at long last, some peace.

For the first time in two months, I felt relaxed.