Last Friday night I was able to take part in one of my favorite holiday traditions – Christmas Eve dinner at Waffle House. That’s right – I said Waffle House. It’s one of those meals that I look forward to each year in a way that only comes from sharing a tradition with family. Like most great family traditions, this one appears to be completely insane to an outsider. Why would anyone subject himself to Waffle House food on any day of the year, much less Christmas Eve, many will ask. The answer is simple. Wrapped up in each of those golden waffles is a little piece of heaven – a warm fluffy touchstone to home. They don’t call it comfort food for nothing.
The evening started off pretty well. The kids were behaving, it looked like the rain was going to hold off, and despite the crowd, we were seated quickly at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Johnny Carino’s (yes it’s a chain, and yes – we still enjoy it immensely). Then there was a small tremor in the Force. We waited for our server – and we waited – and we waited. Right then I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we were in for a terrible dinner. How did I know? Simple – it was my birthday. Dinner on my birthday is ALWAYS a disaster.
I guess disaster might be a bit strong. Let’s me put it this way – going out to dinner on my birthday is one of those traditions that we have stumbled into along the way. We don’t really plan it in advance, but we try to go out for a nice dinner. At some point over the last few years, my birthday dinner has become an exercise in bad service, bad food, scared children, and vomit. Yes – I said vomit – and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that vomit and dinner is a combination that never leads to anything good.