While I’ve always loved pancakes, I never seemed to get the mix right at home. Regardless of what recipe or box mix I tried, they came out too thin or too thick, and under- or overcooked. By the time I finished making up the batch, the pancakes had sat longer in the oven than optimal, which made me resent the time I had spent on them. Every time I took the leftovers out of the fridge, my desire for pancakes lessened, while my frustration over my inability to make top notch pancakes increased.
Denny’s seemed the perfect alternative. The waiters always brought us hot, steaming pancakes that were moist and flavorful, and these round, steaming objects filled the plate. As I coated them with a thin, glistening layer of butter, and drizzled them with syrup, my mouth would begin to water. When I cut into them, and placed a small piece in my mouth, the flavor whisked me off to the dining rooms of the elves in Rivendell, as described by English author J. R. R. Tolkien.
As we’ve never liked garlic toast, or any of the bread options, my wife and I tended not to buy the dinners at Denny’s. But one night, several options tantalized us. When I explained our predicament to the waiter, he responded, “I suppose we could substitute pancakes for the bread or garlic toast.” New vistas rose before us. No longer were we relegated to the breakfast options. Now we could partake of pot roast, chicken fried steak, or any other dinners that appealed to us, and still enjoy our beloved pancakes. Words of thanks to our waiter gave way to songs of thanksgiving. Fellow diners thumped their glasses and mugs atop their tables, and their voices rang out to join with ours. After several choruses, my wife and I could no longer remain seated. So we leapt from our booth and danced atop our table. The waiters noted our delight, and clapped and sang along with the customers. Once a plate crashed to the floor, but for the most part, the kitchen staff juggled their plates, mugs, and dishes without accident.
Discarding our shoes, we kicked the salt-and peppershakers to the dancing, shouting children. Menus soared across the room, and were caught by waiters and customers alike, who sent them on, Frisbee-style, to those waiving their arms above their heads. The faces of all in the restaurant, whether young or old, customers or staff, glowed with soft, warm light. The world seems so vibrant, so rich with possibilities that evening. If only such moments could last forever.
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