Monday, August 1, 2011

What I Did This Summer -- Part 1: Strange Amish Waffles

This summer, we have been traveling.  Like crazy.  If you have ever traveled with children, you know what an exhausting, soul-sucking, memory-of-a-lifetime adventure this can be.  If you haven't, I am here to tell you a few things.  We have found a two day driving strategy that works, with or without cupcakes.  But, one six hour trip took us ten, and we aren't even sure why.  I am developing a website where people can rate public toilets and fast-food playlands.  Jonah learned that vegetarians don't eat bacon or sausage.  Jonah is developing a website to raise money to buy bacon and sausage for poor vegetarians.  Samuel learned to poop in the woods, in a hole dug with a shoe, and he can't wait until Thanksgiving so that he can do it again.  More bedrooms don't actually make for less crowded sleeping.  How many ninety-year-old women are too many?  A house so haunted we had to leave.  So many stories.  So little time to write them all down.  Where to begin...

BEWARE BREAKFAST:  Medium-Rare Waffles with Amish Strangers

Samuel's favorite part of any trip, is the Free Hot Breakfast offered by most mid-priced hotels.  These are usually a make-your-own waffle set up, but all Samuel has to do js place an order with one of his parents, and keep repeating, "I want a waffle, I want a waffle, I want a waffle, I want a waffle," until one appears on the plate in front of him.  As one of his parents, I can tell you it would be easier to pay for waffles at the Denny's across the road.

When people hear that make-your-own waffles come free with the room, they are going to make their own waffles, dammit, even it means pulling at the frayed edges of polite society.  You'd think that we as a people would have evolved past the primal urge to pounce, cheetah like, on the nearest warm food.  But no.  It is still a jungle out there.

This particular jungle story happened over Fourth of July weekend when we went to see the California Redwoods.

The first thing I had to do was jockey for position with my fellow hotel guests, most of whom were just hovering around waiting for their waffles to finish.  There is a timer on those things, people.  It takes three minutes.  You have two minutes and twenty-seven seconds left.  Go stand somewhere else, would ya.  No one is going to steal your waffle.  I promise.  Because if they tried, the whole crowd would turn on them.  It is the Law of the Free Hot Breakfast.

Once a waffle iron opened up, I had to push forward, reach across the blazing hot contraption, and get the batter.  This required I do five things simultaneously:  1) hold a sloppy plastic cup under a waffle-batter glopping machine with one hand, 2) pull a lever on said glopping machine with the other hand, 3) monitor the fill level of the sloppy cup, 4) hold off the encroaching horde of waffle-zombies with my backside, and 5) not sear my left breast.

With glop in hand, I lifted up the heavy top of the waffle iron, and began to pour batter onto the beeping, steaming, hissing mess.  I had about half of the glop in there when the top of the waffle iron slammed down, barely missing my hand.  No.  That it is not true.  It did not miss my hand.  It tried to burn my hand clean off.  And it would have too, but for my lightening-fast reflexes.  I yanked my hand away, just in time.  Disaster averted.  Except that I flung half a cup of glop behind me.  Amazingly, none of the waffle-zombies were hit.  And, none of them saw what happened.  Fifteen people, all focused on two waffle irons, and not a single one of them saw the thing try to bite me.  They looked at me as if I were a mental patient having some kind of episode.  But they all managed to look away as I cleaned up the mess.  Even the man who stepped over me to steal my turn at the waffle iron.

When I finally shoved my way back to the front of the non-line, and successfully applied glop to iron, I returned to sit with Sam while I waited the three minutes.  Like civilized people should.  It was then that Sam looked slowly around the room and loudly announced, "Mom, these people are all strangers."

"Yes, Sam," I replied quietly.  "They are."

"I'm not going to talk to them because they might take me," he said and glanced around suspiciously.

This did not endear me to the other diners, who, I could tell, were wondering why such an adorable child would be left in the care of an obviously deranged woman who had hallucinations involving kitchen appliances.

Ten minutes later, Sam tucked into his pink waffles without a care in the world.  Did I mention that the waffles were pink?  Well, the glop was pink.  Strawberry they called it, but I recognize waffle batter made with artificially-flavored strawberry milk when I see it.  The waffles were some kind of hybrid; brown on the outside, pink of the inside.  Like a well cooked steak.  I found it troubling.

Among the strangers was a large group of Amish.  (They avoided the waffles.)  This is a very rare sight in California.  Sam had a million questions.  (Luckily, he kept his voice down this time.)  And, to be honest with you, it was just as hard explaining to him why the Amish dress the way they do, as it was explaining to him why a lady in our sub-urban supermarket was wearing a burqa.  Sometimes, having kids makes my brain hurt.

In the end, and after breakfast, the trees were nice.  Big.  Really big.  And, old.  Thousands of years, I am told.  Big, old, and not nearly as boring as I thought they might be.  (Don't tell Hubband I said that.)

Now...which story should I tell next?


  1. LOL!! I'm glad the emotional scars will heal...

  2. I just read this aloud to my husband and we had such a laugh--we are in the middle of a two- week road trip involving many mid-priced hotels and many make-your-own-waffle breakfasts...thank you so much for this laugh, I feel such a kinship!

  3. How I've missed you!!!! Nobody can tell a humorous story like you, dear! Oh, I laughed out loud the whole way through. Oh dear, nothing humbles you like kids.

    And nothing turns people into weird creatures like food. Gosh, why is that? I laugh at people forgetting their brains at Sams Club when free samples are offered. They walk over you for a free apple slice, leave their carts blocking the entire crazy!

  4. Like your other commenters - this gave me a good laugh! I can relate.

    The waffle thing...why do we stand there forever waiting to have one? Okay...covered with syrup - they're good. Never seen the strawberry version. Hmmm...

    And Sam's comments about the strangers...reminds me of the little boy, Jack, in the book, "Room" by Emma Donoghue. It's a disturbing book narrated by "Jack," but he was also funny without knowing it.

    Glad you included the pic of the HUGE tree; makes me want to travel to see one. Might even risk injury during the trip for a waffle.