Why I’m Not Allowed Back in the Austinburg, Ohio Waffle House
It was a cool and calm night. I had been driving for what seemed like days. It had really only been 38 minutes, but when you leave the Crazy Horse Club in Bedford, Ohio, with the only natural blonde in the club on your arm, time takes on a new kind of meaning.
She was beautiful, not like the other girls at the club who bleached their hair. She was cut from a different kind of cloth, not the sparkly, day-glow, stretchy, barely-there kind of cloth of most of the women in her particular place of employment. She was cut from a luxurious, rich, high-thread-count kind of cloth that Egyptians use for their bed sheets. Her legs were long and slender, and she moved with a conceited grace and a careless confidence. I was so enamored by her creamy white skin and flowing golden hair that I had hardly noticed that she had approached me and was standing right in front of me.
I was shocked back into reality when she had asked, “You vant drink?” Her thick Russian accent was like soft music to my ears. I blinked at her for a moment, my vision slightly blurred by the poor lighting in the club. She repeated herself, her Russian accent mixed with annoyance, “Do you vant drink?” My mind raced. I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. “I like your eyes!” A look of confusion crossed her face, which then quickly became anger. “Wodka vith ice?! Vhat is vrong vit you?” I quickly realized she had misheard me over the loud music of the club. As I leaned closer to her, I could smell the faint scent of what I assumed to be designer tobacco. I repeated myself, “I said I like your eyes.” Her anger slowly turned back to mild annoyance, “I bring you wodka, no ice. Is Russian way. Drink like real man.” Her words were like the alluring tones of a siren (the sexy women who lure sailors to their deaths, not the loud things on fire trucks). She turned and floated away to the bar. I tried to gather myself together enough to make some haphazard attempt at small talk when she returned.
After 17 minutes, she returned with my drink. As she placed the room-temperature shot of vodka on the small cocktail table, I tried to stoke the fire of conversation, “So, do you come here often?” She shot me an angry glance which could have pierced through a bank vault door. She had clearly heard this line before, as she quickly responded, “Yes, is vhere I vork.” I decided to change my approach, “So what are you doing later? Wanna grab some dinner?” Her expression softened for a split second before turning back to stone, “My shift ends at two in morning. You take me to Vaffle House in Austinburg.” I wondered why she wanted to go to that particular Waffle House. Aside from it being the northernmost Waffle House and way out of the way, there wasn’t any thing special about it that I knew of. But who knew. Maybe she had a friend who worked there and would give us a discount. Besides, I never argue with hot, blonde, Russian women or discounts at restaurants.
At a quarter ’til 2, the bouncer told me the club was closing and that I needed to leave. I told him I was giving my waitress a ride. He grabbed me by the arm and said they didn’t allow that kind of language in the club and that I had had too much to drink. Having only had the one warm vodka shot, the bouncer seemed amazed at my sober awareness and ability to walk. He escorted me out the front door which he slammed behind me. I waited by my car until the neon lights of the club had been turned off and there were no cars left in the parking lot . It was almost 2:30 in the morning now. I was almost ready to chalk the evening up as a loss when I caught the faint scent of what I assumed to be designer tobacco. I turned to see her, the street lights creating the most beautiful silhouette I had ever seen. “I thought you weren’t coming,” I said. “Vent to gas station for cigarettes,” was her response as she opened the passenger door and got into my car.
Twenty-six minutes into our trip, I saw the Waffle House sign and started to exit the highway. She stared straight ahead and said, “Vat are you doing?” I blurted out a confusion-laced response, “Taking you to the Waffle House?” As her right hand held a lit cigarette, she threw her left hand up in disgust, “Is not Austinburg Vaffle House! Is nowhere! Keep driving!” I merged back onto the highway and leaned hard on the accelerator.
My ’76 Chevette screamed down I-90. I looked over at her as she lit another cigarette and took a long, slow drag. She held the smoke in for a miniature eternity before slowing exhaling. She had commented when she got in the car about her window not rolling up all the way. I had explained that I had bought the car like that and the window guide track was bent and that’s why the window wouldn’t roll up the last inch. As the smoke gently poured from her lips, it swirled for just a second before it was quickly whisked away through the one-inch window opening and exiled to the desolate world outside. Interstate 90 was like a forgotten stretch of highway, the lone Chevette lighting up the otherwise pitch-dark thoroughfare. The faint glow of Austinburg lit up the night sky in the distance like a nocturnal mirage.
Another eight miles and we left I-90 via exit 223, then a right onto Center Road. She lit another cigarette. A couple gas stations, a Burger King, a McDonalds, and just off of Gh Drive the familiar yellow and black moniker of the Waffle House. I parked the car and we both got out. The glow of the lights in the Waffle House in contrast with her black Partners in Kryme t-shirt made her creamy white skin radiate as we crossed the parking lot. As I swung the door open for her and the noise and aroma of the Waffle House escaped into the night, a surly waitress with a name tag that said “Bernice” in bold black letters shouted, “No smoking in here!”
My Russian beauty stopped cold in her tracks. She lifted the half finished cigarette to her bright red lips and took a long, slow, rebellious inhale before she flicked the still lit cigarette out the open door. She held the smoke in until we reached the table and Bernice had her back to us before she exhaled. I sat down and she slid gracefully beside me in the booth, putting one slender arm behind my back, her hand finding its way to rest on my shoulder. She pushed the menu in front of me, “Order vhat you vant.”
Her arm draped across my back was distracting, but I tried to put it out of my mind as I looked over the menu. Bernice waddled over to our booth and asked, “Whaddya want ta eat?”
Her fingers lightly brushed my shoulder and she nodded gently at me and then to the menu, “Order vhat you vant.” I looked at Bernice and said, “I’ll have a waffle with some sausage, please. And coffee to drink.” Bernice scratched the order down on her notepad and looked to the thin Russian goddess sitting beside me. Bernice glared at her, the smoking incident at the door still fresh in both their minds, and said, “And what’ll you have, little missy?”
She met Bernice’s glare with a glare of her own. Her lips curled into the slightest sneer, “Two eggs, ower light, bacon, large plate smothered, cowered, topped, and diced, vith coffee.” Bernice jotted the order down, furious that this little minx had spoken to her in her own language. Bernice marched off to get our coffee.
With her arm still around me, she pulled her lighter and pack of Newports out of her jean shorts pocket and sat them on the table. She shook the pack to loosen one cigarette that she held up and delicately removed from the rest of the pack with her nimble lips. She rolled the cigarette around to the edge of her demure mouth as she set the pack back on the table. I asked her, “Isn’t this a no smoking establishment?” But before I could further inquire, she took her index finger and pressed it gently against my lips as a, “Shhhh,” escaped from her perfect face. She lifted her lighter and struck it. The fire gleamed bright between us. She lit the dangling cigarette and inhaled.
It was about this time that Bernice saw what was going on at booth number 4 and started stomping in our direction. Before Bernice reached the booth, she yelled, “I thought I told you there was no smoking in here!” Bernice’s voice cut through the noise of the Waffle House like a fog horn through a cold, winter morning. Bernice marched from behind the counter around to the outside of our booth and snatched the cigarette from her slender hands. Bernice threw the cigarette on the ground and stomped it out with her Brahma boot.
As Bernice stood there lumbering over her, she looked to me and whispered in my ear, “Vun moment, darling.” I felt her arm around me slither behind my back and she turned and raised up out of the seat as though she were weightless. Once standing, the size difference became blindly apparent. She was about a half foot shorter than Bernice and about a third, possibly a quarter, of Bernice’s size. Bernice was too busy being proud of herself for stomping out the cigarette to notice my Russian accomplice pivot hard on one foot and brace her hand on the edge of our booth. Before Bernice realized what was happening, the soft laces of a well-placed white Ked connected solidly with the right side of Bernice’s sullen face. Bernice landed hard on the brown tile floor. The dainty foot and leg continued around in a follow through that resembled a pirouette. As Bernice lay there motionless, I looked at this Russian beauty before me. She looked back at me, rolled her eyes, and reached for her pack of Newports. She lit another cigarette and slid back into the booth beside me, her arm draping back into its previous position.
Bernice was propped up in a chair with an ice pack on a quickly-swelling black eye when the blue and red lights of the Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Department flooded the parking lot of the Waffle House. I do have to say that Mary-Alice, our replacement waitress let us in on the fact that everyone who worked at Waffle House #1830 had been wanting to do that very same thing to Bernice for years. And Mary-Alice made sure we got our food and that our coffee stayed filled up until the Sheriff’s Department arrived. Mary-Alice even offered us to-go cups of coffee but the Sheriff’s Department wasn’t real keen on me and my Russian love having coffee in the back of the patrol car.
While the Russian Bonnie to my American Clyde sat with me handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, waiting until the Sheriff’s deputies decided what they were going to do with us, she looked at me and leaned over close. Her lips parted ever so slightly and she exhaled, her breath cool against my lips. She continued to lean closer toward me, our lips just inches apart when suddenly the door of the patrol car opened and a hand grabbed my shoulder and gently ripped me out of the back of the patrol car and away from my destiny. “You’re free to go, bossman,” was what the deputy said to me as he slammed the patrol car door shut, “and the manager has asked that you never come back to this Waffle House again.” I just nodded, my mind still on her lips moving toward mine. The deputy took the handcuffs off of me, and when I turned around, the patrol car was leaving, my beautiful Russian soul mate securely in the back seat.
I reached out a hand in the direction of the fleeing patrol car. The deputy looked at me and said, “So what’s your name, bossman?” I learned a long time ago from a very wise man that you’re only supposed to lie to two people in life: your wife and police. So I told him my name was Walter Kronkite, with a K, not a C. The deputy said that was cool. I went and got into my car and left. I was on parole and nowhere near the state I was supposed to geographically be in. And I didn’t need any more trouble.
♠ The title for this essay is courtesy of Artie Beaty. If you have an essay title you’d like to suggest, email it to BatDocBlog@gmail.com. You might see your essay title in one of my books, and I’ll be sure to thank you in the book for it!
Posted on July 7, 2014, in A BatDoc Original, Original Series, Short Essays and tagged 76, 90, accent, alice, allowed, amazing, artie, ashtabula, austinburg, babe, back, batdoc, beaty, beautiful, bedford, bernice, blog, blond, blonde, boots, brahma, chevette, cigarettes, club, comedy, county, crazy, cronkite, department, doc, drink, essay, funny, girl, hair, horse, house, humor, i, i'm, in, interstate, keds, kronkite, kryme, laugh, lighter, lips, mary, newport, newports, northernmost, not, oh, Ohio, original, parole, partners, red, russian, series, sexy, sheriff's, short, smoke, states, strip, the, tobacco, united, us, vodka, waffle, waitress, walter, why, woman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.