I’ve never been a breakfast person. I don’t wake up hungry—I just wake up sleepy. And even though I enjoy the calm of that hour just before lunch, it takes me a while to snap out of my coma and figure out where I am. My husband, on the other hand, has veins full of sunshine. Do you have any idea how annoying it is for a zombie to be married to the Good Humor Man?
I can’t help being sluggish—it’s like my veins are full of molasses. But I can’t handle caffeine and cold cereal is of the devil, so mornings are a challenge. When I was a teenager, I thought leftover pizza and potato salad were the breakfast of champions, and an iced tea chaser was the bomb.
Those days are gone.
Welcome to midlife—land of nutritional guidelines and disapproving doctors. I’ll say this for me, though—I never skip breakfast, no matter how boring it is. I rarely skip any meals, but discussing that could only lead to hurt feelings and grudges, so let’s not go there.
Rob and I drove to Kentucky last month to visit our kids and grandbabies. Our first night on the road we slept well and the next morning went down to the hotel lobby to check out their breakfast bar. I was practically awake at the time, so I did a quick survey of the room and suddenly I saw it. Alone and unclaimed, it called out to me.
The waffle maker.
Waffle makers rock. They are the highlight of a free breakfast and I hardly ever get there first so I hardly ever get a free waffle. But today was different. Today I went directly to the round, flippy machine, poured in a Dixie cup of prepared batter, shut the lid, turned it over and waited for three little beeps to announce the arrival of an epicurean fantasy.
At the far end of the counter, I piled scrambled eggs on my plate, surveyed the sausage—not bad—and took my bounty to the last empty table in the room to listen for those tantalizing beeps. Like Wile E. Coyote, impatient and drooling, I sat mesmerized by the thought of a buttery, imitation maple syrup-drenched waffle and finally understood his Roadrunner addiction. Then I ate a piece of sausage.
After entire minutes of anticipation, I heard them—THREE TRIUMPHANT BEEPS! Grabbing my medium sized paper plate, I scooched the eggs to one side, lifted up the lid of the shiny, steamy appliance and . . .
It was empty.
Cleaned out like a burgled bank vault. I nearly wept at the shock. And then, as the stages of grief set in, anger welled up in me and blew open my big mouth.
“Somebody took my waffle!” I announced to the entire room. “I can’t believe it! Somebody took my waffle!”
Rob rushed to my side.
“Hush,” he said, “everyone’s looking.”
“But I can’t believe it!” I told him, as he pulled me away from the violated appliance. “Who would do something like that! Right here in America—who walks over in broad daylight and just takes somebody else’s waffle?”
“You can make another one,” he said, placating me with an impossible dream.
“I don’t want another one,” I told him, “I wanted that one!”
We sat down across from a man who looked at me and timidly asked, “Did somebody take your waffle?”
Rob shook his head and got up, walking away, but it was too late—everyone knew he was with me. I scanned the room for the perpetrator of this crime, but no one had the decency to make eye contact.
And no one was eating a waffle.
“Guess they wolfed it down,” I muttered to the empty chair across from me, suddenly vacated by the shrewd stranger. I finished my breakfast alone, pondering the gall it took for someone to whisk away another person’s waffle and never even apologize.
“I don’t think I want to live in a country where no one respects another person’s right to their own waffle,” I muttered bitterly, swallowing the last piece of cold scrambled egg. “I hate breakfast,” I said and threw my soggy plate in the overflowing trash.
Oddly overcooked smells began wafting throughout the crowded breakfast room and, distracted from my heartache, I tuned in to a loudening clamor behind me brought on by the acrid aroma.
“Where’s that lady who couldn’t find her waffle?” a tall man said to his seated wife. “The one with the red hair?”
Every eye in the room now focused on me. Sure. Now they care, I thought defensively.
“I found your waffle,” he said. “It was still cooking on the other side of this two-sided appliance,” and he held up a black hockey puck that used to be my coveted breakfast.
On the upside, I’m not the only one who hates breakfast now. On the downside, Rob refuses to book us in any more hotels with breakfast rooms. But for the record, my faith in America has been restored. And I’ve sworn off waffles forever.
Who needs breakfast. I’ll just sleep another hour til lunch.