RECOMMENDED:

Waffle House
2264 Cheshire Bridge Road, Atlanta, GA 30324
www.wafflehouse.com

Good choices: For years I never ate in one of these except for emergency purposes. But I now go happily and voluntarily to the Midtown one. I only go near the breakfast dishes here. The country ham’s my fave, but the bacon isn’t bad (skip the sausage), and the eggs are decent. Pancakes and waffles, meh. Hint: the less surface area of the food that is exposed to the grill’s nameless ointment, the better.

The AA meeting began. Robert tried not to stare at the hot crystal meth addicts in the room. His attention waxed and waned as the group discussed gratitude.

“I come home and the electricity was cut off and my pet turtle had got out his box somehow and I couldn’t find him,” someone was saying.

“Plus, there was nothing in the refrigerator ‘cept a single beer my roommate left there. I said to myself, ‘Now is the time to have an attitude of gratitude for my sobriety,’ so I lit some candles and prayed.

“You know what? That turtle crawled right out in front of me and I had no hesitation setting him in the sink and dousing him with that beer, because I knew he’d love it and I didn’t need it.  That’s what gratitude means to me, and, another thing…”

So it went. After an hour, Ralph rose to receive his first-anniversary blue chip. He thanked everyone and talked briefly about how grateful he was to hear the turtle story.

“My baby sister had a little turtle when we were kids and I stepped on it by mistake,” he said. “Today, thanks to AA, I can tell myself that I’m grateful I didn’t kill my baby sister instead.”

Everyone applauded. The group broke up. Janet and Robert hugged Ralph and asked him to dinner, but he was heading to a celebration with his AA friends.

“I’m exhausted,” Janet said. “Can we just grab something simple and quick?”

“That took it out of me too,” Robert said. “Let’s hit the Waffle House.”

“Oh, I love the Waffle House,” Janet said. “It’s pure theater, even if the food sucks.”

They sat in the front of the restaurant. Robert, looking around, was shocked, once again, to see Lee eating at the bar. He whispered to Janet, “I think I’m being stalked for real.”

Janet looked up and shot Robert a skull-rattling eyeroll. 

“He’s really weird,” she said.  “I think you’ve picked another lunatic as a possible boyfriend.”

Robert bristled. Then, someone came through the door, making a lot of clamor as he rushed to take the seat beside Lee, who greeted him enthusiastically.

The man, quite thin in a full-length black raincoat, sat down. Robert and Janet heard squawking, just as the man removed a snow-white cockatoo from under his coat and set it on the counter.  The bird walked in circles, screaming, “Any tops in the house? Don’t smother me!”

Lee smiled and continued eating his country ham and eggs.  The staff paid no attention.

The man pulled out a deck of Tarot cards and began shuffling them. Just then, a dwarf wearing a gun and a tiara pushed his way through the door and shouted, “Party time!”

Robert watched, open-mouthed. 

“I always want popcorn when I eat here,” Janet said.

(Cliff Bostock celebrated 30 years of sobriety last April.)

 


Food Porn is a fictional series by longtime Atlanta food critic Cliff Bostock. Set in real Atlanta restaurants, it chronicles the adventures of Robert, a gay man in search of a husband — or at least a good meal. For past chapters, visit www.thegavoice.com

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