IHOP. The breakfast of champions.

Champions of what, I don’t know.

I always spell it iHop on first try.

We’re seated at a huge table, just the two of at this table that could fit ten. Maybe we look like we’re going to order a lot of food. Maybe it’s because we both picked up our free copies of the Long Island Press at the door and the hostess thinks we need room to spread out and read while we don’t talk to each other.

But we talk. We make fun of the people in the Long Island Power Listing because that’s what we do.

“He looks constipated.”
“Interesting, because he runs a compost company.”

We note that Tracy Morgan is playing at the local comedy club and then that Matthew Sweet is playing somewhere in the city.

“Great, I can go and stay for the two songs I like.”
“Or we can go see Tracy Morgan.”
“You’ll be in San Diego then.”
“I will?”
“I know your schedule better than you. You should totally hire me to be your secretary.”
“I have a secretary.”
“But she doesn’t have sex with you.”
“Well….”
“Don’t finish that thought.”

There’s a table behind us. About ten people at the table, including a few children, one of whom is singing the alphabet very slowly from beginning to end in a constant loop, like a deranged episode of Sesame Street where Ernie an Bert have done quaaludes and are listening to 45rpm records on 33rpm.

“Aaaaaaa bbbbb cccccc dddddd eeeeeeeee” on the “E” her voice drops even lower and I have a flashback to some Grateful Dead concert acid trip where I thought Jerry Garcia was a bear coming after me. Turns out he was just singing a slowed down version Uncle John’s Band. But I never stopped seeing him as a hungry bear after that. A hungry, stoned bear.

At the table of the singing child are two white men, a Filipino lady, two dark skinned children, two women speaking Spanish and an African American woman who is completely astounded that nobody in her party remembers the cartoon Jem. They’re having a grand old breakfast time when the waitress - an older woman with a high pitched, quivering voice that sounds like caffeine and craziness - checks on their table.

“I have to ask,” she says, and I know what’s coming. I can see it on her face. In her eyes. I cringe before she even says the words. “What’s going on here?”

The white guy with the singing kid in his lap rolls his eyes like he’s been here before but answers her like her rude curiosity is new to him.

“What do you mean?”

You can tell he knows what she means.

“Well, you’re all so different. You know?” She emphasizes differentlike it’s incredulous even in this day and age that people of different races would have breakfast together. “Are you…related?”

Her unapologetic bewilderment is both horrifying and amusing.

“Uh, this is my brother. And this is my girlfriend. And this is my brother’s wife, her sister and her sister’s best friend. And my nieces.” He answers her like one would answer an adult who just asked why water is wet. Like he’s answered it before.

“This is so interesting!” The waitress with the least self awareness ever laughs at whatever joke is playing in her head.

It’s really not that interesting. It’s not that interesting that a family would go out to breakfast together. That one of them was talking about Jem makes it just semi-interesting, in a “let’s listen to other people’s conversations about things we’ve probably talked about in the past” way.

The waitress finally stops talking, drops the check on the table of diversity and leaves. The young man sighs. The little girl on his lap sings “xxxxxx yyyyyyy zzzzzzzzzzz,” takes a deep breath and starts again on A.

A man at another table barks at the waitress to bring more whipped cream and butter.

We go back to reading the Long Island Press together.

Our food comes. I got a 480 calorie meal of fake eggs, turkey bacon and whole wheat pancakes. I proceed to pour five thousand grams of sugar in the form of boysenberry syrup all over the pancakes and make a mental note to stay at the gym a little longer later.

“Hey, Louie Anderson is playing at Governer’s next month.”
“Let’s not and say we did.”
“Let’s not and say we didn’t.”