Apr 30, 2006

Meet America at IHOP

My girls have been begging to go to IHOP for their NEW stuffed French Toast. So, this all started with a successful American-style marketing scheme. But, since I’d gone to mass Saturday night and we might be able to beat the morning church rush, I thought “what the heck”.

The only IHOP I knew of in town has been here since when I came as a kid – let’s just says its decades old. I was thinking it would be run down and greasy spoonish, in a not so great neighborhood, so I got on MAP Quest to try to find a newer one. There were two others farther away and I didn’t know exactly where they were, so I decided to take a chance on the one I knew.

Here’s where things get good. We wait five minutes, thinking it is going to be 20 because the restaurant is jam packed and only has 20 tables in the front section. It is a long narrow projection where the booths are set up in a U configuration; that is, booths around the edges and booths in the middle; all booths facing into the U shaped aisle. The first thing I notice is how polite and friendly the elderly wall-eyed waitress is who is serving us. It seems most of the waitresses are old-pros, which explains the short wait. I like that. The d├ęcor is bright cream painted walls with accents of red silk geraniums hanging from the ceiling. I like that, too. Not pretentious, but pretty in an old-fashioned way.

The waitress is chatty with the tables around us, but in an unobtrusive way. A couple of young black men at the booth across from us were joined by three young black women and were having to squeeze in to find room. Our waitress quipped over her shoulder “I hope you all know each other?” They laughed and carried on their amusing conversation.

I then noticed her speaking Spanish to the table of two women behind us. None of these women (including the waitress) looked particularly Latina to me, but there they were speaking Spanish.

And then I started a little census looking around the room: There was a youngish attractive black man reading the paper on the other side of our booth; I noticed a young couple looking like they’d been to the prom last nights because her hair was still made-up; There were two inter-racial couples over fifty: a black woman married to a white man; an Asian man married to a Latina woman; A young white family with three boys and a girl; Another table of young white men with tattoos and piercings wearing black and adorning their ears with Ipods; and, of course, the young group of black friends enjoying themselves at the booth across the way. The rest were predominately white of mixed ages – one little boy a Down’s child.

And then it hit me! Eureka! I found America at the International House of Pancakes! Not the bitter backstabbing racially religiously Balkanized America the Left sees. This was a room full of strangers behaving with civility and good humor toward one another. This is the America I imagined and found. Here in a predominately conservative white Christian community I found a place where we can all just get along. Don’t believe the America bashers! This is a great country with mostly wonderful people. Get out – rub elbows - and have some really good pancakes too!