Monday, December 19, 2011
High Street Waffle House.
After the closing of Tastee Donuts in Fondern, and before the need for wi-fi, I lived there. Waffle House is a Southern Institution...you wouldn't pass it up if you were in these parts.
A couple of weeks ago, I stopped at a gas station in Poplarville to get a cup of coffee. As I leaned on the hood smoking a cigarette two cars pulled up and out poured 10 kids from Birmingham England. They were on their way from New Orleans to Memphis. Best I could tell they had been having the time of their life.
Two things they were most excited about at the moment...one, the Mug Shot papers. You'll find 'em in every gas station. It's just a little paper magazine that reprints the county mug shoots, booking photos, for that month.
"Ohhhh...somebody be'd going to jail over this back home."
And the food..."Waffle House...yeah Waffle House," it kinda echoed around the nodding group.
It wasn't uncommon for Brits to show up at High St. on their way to New Orleans. It was right off the interstate.
"How much farther?"
"Three hours maybe"
Slumped shoulders and a look of total defeat.
The food is scrumptious...when they're clean enough to eat in. Usually the first six months they're fine...then the retired hookers, drug dealers, etc. are moved in and it's a steady decent. Most of the clientele don't care...truckers, cops, working girls and students.
The place is open 24 hours...that's all you really need to know.
High St. was where I got through school and met half the people in my life...and this was my view.
I was sitting in that very spot the night that David Allan Coe asked if he and a very young, very Asian, very stoned woman could have the booth.
It's also the place where I met Allan...our Allan. I was there preparing to start at Millsaps. He was already a superstar there....preparing for a senior year that would end with three Oral and Written comprehensive exams. He left the place with a degree in History, Philosophy and Religious Studies. He would go on to receive a PhD in Philosophy and is now warping young minds in Mobile Alabama. He is most famous for holding the position of non-contributing Philosopher here at Flimsy Cups.
I also met Matt M. there...and for the next four years we spent hours there almost every day. Talking (mostly music and his lady troubles), smoking and drinking as much coffee as they could make. About $1.09 for a bottomless cup back then.
Matt's at Princeton now studying music.
There was Brannon...a kind of brooding figure that delivered papers in the morning and pizzas at night during his last year of high school. He had calculated every dime it would take to pay rent and buy groceries for four years of college. He'd have a hasbrown...but, no smother or cover. That 75 cents might be the difference between having a tube of toothpaste in March or brushing with baking soda.
He was also brilliant and, last I heard, a PhD candidate at Harvard...probably done by now.
The help were ambiguous about our presence. They'd clown with us sometimes...ask for rides home, try to sell us dope...growl about having to make another pot of coffee.
They had their own problems...bail bondsmen, the poleese, ex girlfriends.
What really makes a Waffle House besides never closing and the ash trays...is the sound. Stainless steel constantly banging and scraping on cast iron, the ring of plates spinning on linoleum, shouted orders, metal spoons pinging against ceramic coffee cups.
For someone who can't concentrate when it's quiet it was the best possible place to study...and I worked my way through school in that place. That and I doodled.
I have stacks of these little tablets...occasionally there are notes but, mostly just doodles and misc. thoughts.
Somehow it all worked out.
We aren't done with the Waffle House.