For this former Washingtonian, the Denny’s in Parkland brings back floods of fond, maple syrup covered childhood memories. Whenever my parents felt like an evening out, the six of us would pile into our wood panelled station wagon and make a pilgrimage to “America’s Diner”. Before the waitress even had the chance to hand us menus, my father would order six $1.99 grand slams and six waters. “It’s the best value.” he would sternly say.
As we cleaned our plates, I dreamed of one day working at Denny’s–earning a king’s ransom in tips through exceptional service and witty banter with my customers. Free pancakes and popcorn shrimp would obviously be an added bonus.
Over the years, the restaurant of my youth has declined–or perhaps it’s always been crappy and I never noticed. Either way, I still secretly love eating there, despite it’s rough demeanor and questionable breakfast meat.
All this is to say, when my sister sent me the following text last Friday, I wasn’t exactly shocked.
Apparently, she wasn’t either. ‘Ish like this really isn’t out of the ordinary in our ‘hood.
Speaking of P-town, the next morning I found myself back in my old stomping grounds–my parent’s house, to be exact. I had made plans to take my mom to breakfast prior to attending a wedding later in the evening.
ME: So…where do you want to go eat, mom?
MOM: Let’s go to Denny’s!
ME: We can’t go to Denny’s…two people got shot there yesterday–it was a drive-by. Let’s go with something a little less violent.
MOM (completely unphased): Oh…okay. Wagon Wheel?
ME: Yeah. Wagon Wheel.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the hot spots of the 98445 zip code, the Wagon Wheel is a 24-hour Parkland institution that sells beer for $1.50. They’re famous for having delicious, chicken-fried breakfasts, and a large, obnoxious sign.
Unfortunately, we made quite a disappointing discovery upon rolling up to “The Wheel.”
They had up and gone out of business.
ME: Look mom…they’re closed. For good. Do you just want to go to Starbucks and get pastries?
MOM: No, not really. I’m still kind of in the mood for Denny’s. Is that OK?
ME: I guess so. I mean…if someone just got shot there, chances are it won’t happen again for at least another month or so–statistically speaking, our odds for survival are actually pretty strong.
MOM: Right. And Starbucks doesn’t have good bacon.
She had a point. Five minutes later, we found ourselves seated on opposite sides of a booth in an extremely crowded dining room. Apparently, the people of Parkland are more than willing to risk their lives for a three dollar omelet.
Being that this could potentially be my last meal, I decided to go all out with a short stack of blueberry pancakes (extra butter and syrup), hash browns, sausage links, scrambled eggs, and several cups of coffee. Mom had the same.
MOM: Why does coffee always taste so much better when you don’t make it at home?
ME: I know. This coffee is totally worth a bullet wound. So are these pancakes.
MOM: Especially the pancakes.
We wolfed down our food, caught up on our gossip, and complained about my dad and his ridiculous pants collection. We felt totally safe — like the drive-by shooting never even happened. I even worked up the courage to use the ladies’ room before we left.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, our bellies full with grease and simple carbohydrates, I breathed a sigh of relief.
ME: Well mom, we didn’t get shot.
MOM: At least not yet. Hey–wanna go to the Quilt Shop?
ME: Not really. I kind of needed a few things from Target.
MOM: Yeah…but we’re far less likely to get shot at the Quilt Shop.
She was right. Worse case scenario, one of us would get stabbed with a crochet hook–but those things aren’t that sharp anyway. We probably wouldn’t even need stitches…just maybe a tetanus shot.
With an argument like that, I couldn’t really say no.
Well played, Mom. Well played.