From The Waffle Iron Into The Fire



It’s been a sad and strange thing, watching the erosion of culture all around us. America was once the land of the generally well-mannered, and the home of those who didn’t make a career out of being victims.

Nothing seems sacred anymore, and somebody is always getting their hackles up over the most inane concepts imaginable. Once, it was good for a chuckle, such as somebody suing McDonald’s because the coffee was hot. The Fortune 500 company replied, not with a condescending pat on the offended’s head and the obligatory “well, bless your heart, darlin,” but with a redesign of coffee cup lids, complete with the warning affixed: “Hey! This here coffee is hot!”

America was once a far more rural nation, which meant a whole lot more rural people were busy doing rural things, such as farming, fixing things, digging post holes by the sweat of their brow, working hard before and after the sun’s appearance and disappearance, thereby keeping food on the table.

And there was little time for leisure or unknown distractions such as video games and social media.

But we’ve cultivated an entire generation who have been raised in front of televisions, and exposed to comforts unknown to all generations prior. What was once worked for, then appreciated, is now expected by a crop of people who only break a sweat if the pizza delivery guy is ten minutes late.

So, for those who expect the easy life to be the norm, no variation from the script can be tolerated. And since these generally non-working types have gobs of spare time on their hands, they can invest themselves in conjuring up trouble where none exists.

The freak show is getting a little long in the tooth. It’s become weary, this placation of those offended by such things as statues, inanimate objects that can somehow mystically disable those who set aside their remote controls long enough to invent the latest public blasphemy. The former mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, ordered a four-sided plywood wall erected around a statue of General Robert E. Lee in a city park because, you know, the city’s progress was being hampered by its existence. Plus, there’s always a need in the Iron City for something to march about.

The latest landmark under assault hits way too close to home. Ever since I can remember, Waffle House has been a part of the southern landscape. Waffle House is our iconic greasy spoon, complete with jukeboxes and waitresses who still call you “hon”, pour coffee (hot coffee, no warning given) and deliver plate-fulls of warm southern goodness.

Ask any bona-fide southerner. We can all tell you without hesitation exactly what “scattered, smothered and covered” means without batting an eyelash.

Waffle Houses are everywhere down here; as plenteous as Baptist churches and boarded up stores that used to be KMarts. Waffle House has long been the go-to place for business deals, marriage proposals (“I’ve got sumthin’ to ask you Doreen, right after you pass the ketchup”), story-telling, or just sitting back down in your booth after having deposited your quarters in the aforementioned jukebox, which at one time only played selections from George Jones, Tammy Wynette and Conway Twitty.

There’s just something wondrous about ingesting a plate of grease with He Stopped Loving Her Today wafting throughout the diner’s background.

And how many young boys have had their first waffle on their way to the little league baseball game, the pleasant memory now forever ensconced in their noggins?

But now we’re suffering a rash of misbehaving malcontents, descending on our revered institution. For whatever reason, probably to get famous on YouTube, they act up and make a scene, much to the discomfort of the other far more well-mannered guests who simply want to eat their hash browns in peace. A hard-working manager attempts to deflect the invasion, ultimately calling the police.

Now it’s showtime. Everyone puts their forks down and watches the latest uh, victim being rassled to the floor by a man in blue.

Predictably, the obligatory video makes its way to social media, and also predictably, the usual suspects rush to the nearest TV camera to defend the irascible social justice warrior, while demonizing the hallowed southern institution which is now evidently the post-rally meeting place for the KKK.

Seriously, the only time I ever remember being offended at a Waffle House is when there wasn’t a seat to be found, and I was stricken by the paralyzing notion that they might actually run out of eggs by the time I got a seat.

Bernice King, youngest daughter of her famous father, has weighed in on the matter, calling for a boycott of Waffle House, because of its inherent racism.

Racism. My least favorite word of all. Right down there with “liver.” It’s my least favorite word because of its over-usage and because most people who use it are clueless as to its definition. If anyone should know better, you might think it would be the daughter of MLK, who, by her ill-advised actions, does a disservice to her own father’s name.

Anybody who’s got anything at all going on between his ears can walk into any Waffle House anywhere, and take a quick look around. Look. Smell. Touch. Feel. Hear. Tell me if any of your senses give you any indication of “racism.”

There is a real problem here, but it ain’t racism. The problem is a bunch of spoiled brats whose mamas never gave them the lickin’ they deserved when they acted up at home. Thus, they figure they can act up anywhere, and without consequence.  And if anybody dares challenge their, uh, rights to act up in public, then we’ll play the usual racism card. Far easier than acting like an adult with manners who knows how to behave, particularly in front of other people who did not visit the diner to have it interrupted by your cell-phone camera show.

Anyway, I’m all for Bernice’s boycott. Boycott away, honey-child. You’re only making the treasured seats vacant for those who simply wish to enjoy pleasant conversation, a waffle, and cup of coffee while being serenaded by Loretta Lynn.

Stick that in your do-rag and smoke it.

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