Meb Byrne

IHOP: A Poem

In breakfast, restaurant on July 15, 2009 at 2:48 pm

It’s called the International House of Pancakes.

Maybe that’s why English isn’t the staff’s first language.

One waitress asks another how many Ls are in chili,

one or two,

as I sit waiting on the squashy bench,

grey drizzle skittering down the window pane behind me.

The whiteboard by the cash register proclaims

Smile Your At IHOP.

Apparently, it’s my At IHOP.

If English was the staff’s first language, maybe the titles of the dishes would be more precise.

I order the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity,

which sounds like Carmen Miranda’s hat, chopped up and served in a chilled glass,

stuck through with a plastic sword and a maraschino cherry.

It’s not that exciting.

It’s just another permutation of omnipresent breakfast foods.

You still have to say Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity when you order it, though,

even though you know what you’re really getting isn’t very fruity,

not particularly fresh,

and mostly void of rooti- and tootiness.

You still have to say it.

Otherwise, it doesn’t count.

I’m not bothered that the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity isn’t a fizzy drink.

Sometimes, words just can’t convey intended meaning.

I say Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity, not twoeggtwosausagetwobacontwopancakewithfruittopping,

because there’s no better way to say it

and the staff knows what I mean.

When I sit there with you,

I don’t say

“You helped me get through four plays, two musicals, two years of high school and one boyfriend,”

or

“You were my only friend on the first scared night I spent in New York City,”

or

“You have never steered me wrong, and I still have immense faith in your opinions.”

I order a Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity instead,

and we share stories while sipping syrup,

and it is enough.

When you pick up the tab

and you drive me home,

even though you don’t have to,

I don’t say,

“I have loved you as long as I have known you.”

That’s a hyperbole

(a tiny one)

and I don’t think they’d understand hyperbole

at the International House of Pancakes.

—–

The International House of Pancakes is a nationwide restaurant chain, with 1,402 locations in fifty states, Canada and Mexico.

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