“Life is something that happens when you can't get to sleep.” -- Fran Lebowitz
For some reason KM and I both woke up well before dawn last Saturday. I think it was around 3:30 a.m. I suggested we go to IHOP for some pancakes. She agreed, saying that would probably make us sleepy again. So we headed out into the warm dark morning in search of batter and butter and syrup.
Inside the well-lit restaurant there were a few others with the same idea, however most of them looked like late-nighters rather than early risers. I walked past a sheriff’s deputy who was standing watch near the cash register. Nothing wrong with that I thought to myself. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel safe, but you never know these days. The other diners that I took notice of all were younger than we were, some hip-hoppers on one side and and gothic types on the other, all in good spirits.
Our waitress came. She was perky without being obnoxious, a rare skill I’m not sure can be acquired. She mentioned she had four kids and I wondered how some people are able to survive.
I looked at the paper and a story told about the shrinking economy, mentioning a large chicken plant closing. How would those laid off survive?
Inside was a story about a bank worker who stole millions from the branch where he worked after a gang took his family hostage and threatened to kill them unless he cooperated. Some scheme to survive.
Our waitress poured more coffee and asked if we were ready to order. KM told me to go ahead and I picked the short buttermilk stack with some link sausage. KM went with pancakes covered in strawberries.
I heard the hip-hoppers get excited and looked up, seeing their enthusiasm was over the pancakes being put in front of them. The deputy caught my eye and smiled, as if to say maybe pancakes was the answer to the world’s differences.
Back in the paper things quickly got worse. A six-month-old was choked by her dad because she wouldn’t stop crying, while another guy beat his two-year-old stepdaughter with an electrical cord. Below those I read that an oil worker named Geno fell out of his truck to his death after a heart attack. Eventually, no one survives.
The Religion Section had a story about communion that I skimmed. It had two good photos with children smiling, their young faces full of hope and dreams, and I felt better.
Next was an article about a mayor. She’d been arrested on a felony theft warrant over accusations she stole a city check and tried to spend it at Walmart.
Moving on, I checked the obituary pages to see if I knew anyone who hadn’t survived, which always seems a little strange to me when I do. Not so strange that I knew them, just that all of a sudden they’re gone. I do enjoy some of the more creative descriptions on how the dearly departed actually made that departure. While most just “die” or “pass away,” quite a few “depart this life.” One I saw, “passed peacefully.” Another “Went to glory.” The next “Took his Father by the hand and entered heaven.” But my all-time favorite is, “He escaped his earthly bondage and climbed upon the fiery chariot pulled by majestic steeds and entered triumphantly into the golden gates of paradise.” Now that’s an exit. Wouldn’t it be great if everything was like that? Like when my pancakes finally arrived, if a deep voice from above said, “He poured the deep rich maple syrup generously over steaming stacks of golden bliss, the honey nectar of the gods, as gothic and bling-adorned rapping angels serenaded him and his bride during another glorious dawn.”
Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.