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Robbi grew up in the South and misses his Waffle Houses which they don't have up North. They have Pancake Houses up North but a Pancake House won't do.

As for myself, when I was a child I loved the Pancake House. There was one in Richland. It was the only restaurant I was taken to as a child, so when I was around ten and got to go to a Howard Johnson's I thought that was really special.

The Pancake House. It had all those jars of different flavored syrups on the table, which was nice, though I only had the regular (I'm getting a peculiar sense of deja vu here). I remember on the wall by the waitress station was a mysterious little sign that lit up and showed a number. The number never changed. I wondered what this was all about. I now know that the sign didn't work, but I didn't know that then. It was simply mysterious. I stared at it alot, waiting for whatever it was that was supposed to happen. Beneath the sign was a cocoa machine, which was also something mysterious to me because I was never permitted to order cocoa. I could have pancakes and milk. That was it. So on cold days I would stare at the steaming cup of cocoa pictured on the cocoa machine and to me it was very mysterious that cocoa would appear out of this machine if someone ordered it. Occasionally someone would order cocoa and I would watch the waitress work the machine. This was something very special to me. Whoever ordered the cocoa was doing something very special and privileged. I had this idea that people who ordered cocoa were traveling salesmen who ate out at restaurants alot and that they probably ordered the cocoa without thinking twice about it, this not being anything very special to them. It was just something they liked to drink and since it was there they ordered it because they were self-assured people who could do what they wanted and get what they wanted out of life. Those really were my thoughts about the people who ordered cocoa.

My wonder over the mysterious llittle light at the pancake place was the same kind of wonder I felt over the little lights above the confessional booths when I was five years old and at High Mass at the cathedral. I saw a girl go through one of those mysterious doors over which was a mysterious light which now shown red, and I watched and watched but didn't see her come back out. I became convinced that behind the door was a stairway that led down to hell.

I remember sitting by the window in the Pancake House and leafing through my favorite book in the school library. I was seven years old and loved to read about Norway. This book was about Norway and had all these pictures of the fjords, and of the spare grassy valleys of Norway filled with cows that gave milk that was made into exotic things like real butter and cream and special cheeses. The book was blue and there were alot of pictures of blue skies in there and for a long time I associated Norway with the color sky blue.

Just where does the word "waffle" come from anyway? Let's see, Old High German, waba, honeycomb. Akin to web, which is akin to weave. And then there's "waffle" from waff, which is to talk foolishly or without purpose; idle away time talking. Kind of like I'm doing now. Oh wait, get this. Guess what is a variation of "waffle?" Wafer is. The unleavened bread of the Eurcharist as used in the Roman Catholic Church.

Waffle House, the church.

Assorted People

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