Rowan and I were oh-so very hungry the other night and neither of us felt like cooking. We didn't know what we were hungry for, but we knew we didn't want anything too crazy. So we headed over to the IHOP to get some breakfast for dinner. Cheap, tasty, calm and pleasant. Turns out we walked right into crazy central.
"Hi! Welcome-to-IHOP-where-breakfast-is-served-all-day! What-can-I-get youuuuUUU?!"
The waitress looked like faces of meth at week 3, and spoke in this sing song-y robotic voice. Re-read the sentence above and give each word a wildly different intonation; that's what she sounded like. And for each person who came in, she said it the exact same way.
I know it's their job and that after the 100th time they've said it, it gets to be second nature and they maybe don't notice it doesn't sound natural. But this woman came off like the worst community theater performer trying to brute force their way through Chekhov.
[Angrily] Leave me alone? How cruel. You! are. [She tries to go out.]
[Preventing her] There, there, my beauty, I apologise. [He kisses her hand] Forgive me.
Confess, that you, would try the patience. Of. An angel.
I let Rowan order first.
"Could I have the two eggs and bacon please?"
"I'll have the Pancake combo."
"Okay. I'll-be-right-back! [big smile without using her eyes] I'm-a-gon-go-hit-the-pipe-for-a-sec. If-you-need-any-thing, write-it-dowwwwwwnNNNN!"
She flitted through the kitchen doors, half-skipping, singing to herself. Rowan and I just sort of sat there in shock for a bit. But really, she'd taken the order, she wasn't rude, so it would probably be fine.
When she came back with the food, her hair was in cornrows.
"Herrrre you go! Two-eggs and ba-con for the laaaaa-dy, and pancake-pancake combo-combo for the mist...errrr."
"Thanks. Say, when did you get those cornrows done?"
"Someone gave you cornrows in fifteen minutes?"
"No, silly, I did them all. By. My. Self. People here are too-damn-slow, don't-have-time-for-noth...in'. Grabbed-my-mirror-with-the-one-hand [holds up her left hand], my-hair-with-the-oth-er [holds up the right] and got. To. Work. It's not that hard once-you-done-it twen-ty, thir-ty times."
She briskly jogged back through the kitchen doors in silence.
The meal itself was okay. My pancakes were just right. But both of our eggs were far from over medium, barely over easy. Maybe over novice. I like runny eggs though, so I ate mine; Rowan didn't care for hers too much. The bacon was good, but a piece of Rowan's toast was oddly charred on one side.
"How is every-little-thing?"
"Fine, fine. It's just this piece of toast. It's burned over on this side here."
"Looks like somebody-tried-to-smoke-it. It. Turns out ya-can't! Haha! HAAAAAA!!!"
She then let out this shrill, child-like scream and took off into the kitchen again, hands held high, blowing hard through the swinging doors. The doors swung shut, and there was silence for a while.
Eventually the doors swung open and she appeared, looking very serious. She walked slowly to our table, arms straight and held tight to her side.
"I'm very sorry for what just happened, that was very unprofessional. I hope you'll accept this token of my apology."
She reached into her pocket and handed me this clump of orange yarn, all twisted and knotted.
"Um...thanks. What is it?"
"It's the first Harry Potter translated into Khipu, the ancient Incan knot language."
"Did you make this?"
"Yeah. After I did my cornrows."
"Well I never did read the first one, so...thanks."
"Are you ready for your check?"
"God no, we're not paying. You're incredibly frightening and we were planning on sneaking out at the next opportunity."
"I get that a lot. People call me Sir That-a-lot all the time, because that's what I get. A lot. A lot-lot-lot-lot-lot..."
She continued speaking, no longer looking at us, as we rose up slowly and slid by her on our way to the exit. The old woman behind the cash register tracked us with her eyes and gave me a slow nod as Rowan opened the door. She mouthed something I couldn't quite make out. I wanted to ask, but Rowan pulled me through the door and into the parking lot.
I could see the cashier watching, staring at us through the window as we crossed the parking lot, still mouthing some silent words. Our waitress was still talking, her arms clutching a menu to her chest like some holy book.
In the car at last, I asked Rowan to look at the cashier.
"What do you suppose she's saying?", I asked. Rowan turned around and checked her out for a second.
"She's saying 'Take me with you'."
"'Take me with you'? Well that's just plain creepy."
"Yeah, fuck that."