Y’all, I thought I was gonna be real sad about it.
And I was, quietly and small-ly sad about not having one of my childhood institutions nearby, but I felt silly about it.
The closest Waffle House is just outside of Toledo, Ohio, about 60 miles away from me.
But, y’all, I’m a Georgia girl at heart sometimes and this is one of those times.
Cause in Georgia, there is a Waffle House on almost every single corner.
In fact, just this week Social Circle got their very first Waffle House. When I was growing up, we had to drive one town over to Covington to eat at one of two Waffle House options.
Or to Monroe for a lesser Huddle House option. But at least they knew how to make my order good enough.
Waffle House is the first place my dad and I would stop on every one of our many work/play trips in the summertime.
Waffle House is where I went after my closing shifts at Blockbuster with my other closing shift buddy and drank coffee and talked about all the things. It felt very grown up.
Waffle House is where I decided to that I wanted to ask for a divorce. D and I were sitting at one, eating dinner, which is something we 100% were not ‘allowed’ to do when I was married.
Waffle House was a food to be ashamed and embarrassed about and, oh no it would make us fat. The list of foods and drinks like this were never-ending.
The pure unadulterated anger I feel at that man for making me think I was fat when we were married will never be resolved. I was fucking tiny (for my frame – I still had these big-ol hips that aren’t going anywhere.)
He would tell me, “Oh, you’d have such a cute figure if you just lost ___ pounds.”
“Oh your body could be so tight if you just lost some weight.”
And I’d be so mad at myself as a human when I could not lose those pounds.
And ,on their own in my broken brain, they seemed almost like compliments, don’t they? My brain translated them that way, for sure. Like it would think, “Oh, he does find me attractive! I’m just a little too heavy.”
That’s how that shit eats at your brain and why I keep harping on the importance of the words you choose. I was not too heavy. I was gorgeous and I’m so sad I didn’t celebrate that then.
I was very bad about knowing who to put my trust in at that time, obviously. .
So, D and I were sitting at Waffle House, he was on a business trip away (which is the only reason we were at Waffle House) and on the way there we sang in the car and had so much fun. During his business trips, we were freer in the house and just in general. I didn’t feel any guilt about taking her (or myself) to dance class (he didn’t understand the point). We were just being. And it felt GOOD.
And the she turned to me and said, “You know, it doesn’t have to be like this.”
She didn’t have to say anything more and I knew what she meant. We didn’t have to sneak around to do the things we loved or to be the people we enjoyed being.
Something about that single sentence put everything into perspective for me.
When he arrived home a few days after my birthday and he gifted me my gift (a dress two sizes too small for me that I could ‘grow into’), that I knew she was right.
We didn’t have to live like this and wouldn’t any more. So, I asked for a divorce.
And now, I’m finally learning to use my voice for things that matter TO ME.
Like sitting at the counter at Waffle House and ordering this exact thing every time:
“Two grilled cheeses with hashbrowns scattered, smothered and covered with a full sugar Cherry Coke, please!”
Every time since I was a child, this is my order. I don’t think it will ever change.
So, up here in Michigan, there are no Waffle Houses, as previously reported and, at first when I was google maps scouting, I didn’t even see diners on the map anywhere. So my diner-food lovin’ brain panicked.
But then, when we were up here on one of my scouting trips, KPerks told me about Coney Islands.
Coney Islands, as I knew it, meant one of two things:
- An amazing theme park, home of the Cyclone (and the Warriors)
- Hot Dog
KPerks told me that up here in Michigan Coney Islands are also what they call diners up here.
But also, Coney Islands serve Greek food?
It was all honestly very confusing… until I entered one.
Yes, it’s a diner, but like, a REAL diner, where it looks like they’ve been cooking on the same flattop since the 70s. And the food is REAL good.
It wasn’t until one day when we ordered breakfast at a Coney Island and the hashbrowns were almost Waffle House perfect that I even considered making my traditional Waffle House order at a Coney Island.
Here’s what I love about Coney Islands. They are small. TINY. And most often run by only a handful of people that have been there since go. The food is always so good (and so hot! I think they are allowed to have hotter oil up here or something) and I think it’s because they care. They are invested in their place of work and not just going after a paycheck.
I found that same energy in a Waffle House. Those folks take PRIDE in their place of employment. This was driven home after I stealthily joined some Waffle House employee groups on Facebook a few years ago.
Here was Mickey’s meal from our most recent Coney Island (Triangle Coney Island in Allen Park):
Yes, he got actual Coney Islands. With chili! And perfect crispy-on-the-outside fluffy-on-the-inside fries.
Oh one more thing about Coney Islands.
When I say they’re also Greek restaurants, I don’t mean, just like slappin’ a Gyro on the menu and calling it a day, I mean that they will light cheese on fire in front of you tableside if you pay them the proper amount of money.
Lemme tell ya, that looks WILD in a diner setting, y’all.