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Don’t Go To Denny’s 2010

Janet Kuypers

(poetry converted to prose)

    So one morning leaving New Orleans on New Year’s Day ready to head back to Chicago, she said we should stop at a Denny’s for breakfast... and I get it... remember being a Goth drama kid, hanging out at Denny at all hours of the night because you sere too young to drink in a bar, but I don’t go to Denny’s because...
    One year, after partying for New Year’s in D.C. Paul, one my buddies there, said he wanted to go to this diner in Delaware for breakfast. Now, we hadn’t had anything to eat, and we had been drinking forever for New Year’s, so we thought this was a great idea and off we went. Now, as I said, we hadn’t eaten, and we were starving in Maryland, so when we saw exits to Annapolis we thought, this is a good place to grab breakfast. we walked into an empty Denny’s which didn’t even have locks on their doors ‘cause they were always open... they sat us in a booth and took our order. the waitress brought Paul’s Grand Slam and whatever I ordered (I don’t know, an omelet, hash browns). just after we started eating a really big man entered Denny’s. and even though the Denny’s was empty they sat him right behind me in the booth right next to us. he was built like Chief Wiggum and he shook my seat as he worked his way in. I thought of the Simpsons episode where Wiggum was in a booth at a diner and Lou had to stab Wiggum’s seat with a switchblade, popping it like a balloon so Wiggum could get out of his booth.
    so when he sat in his seat he moved my booth seat six inches toward my table and he immediately lit up a huge cigar that smelled like burning manure. now, how would I know what burning manure smells like? okay, look, I’ve worked on a farm — lived in one for a bit. so when I tried to eat all I could smell was that burning manure.
    so not two minutes after Wiggum sat down I started hearing noises and my seat started moving. a minute into the gurgling noises (which sounded more and more like heaves) I suddenly heard what sounded like wet plaster splattering against cement. this man right behind me was shaking, and threw up for over one minute.
    now instead of burning manure all I could smell was his alcohol and bile.
    so I said to Paul right then and there, “we’re leaving, and not paying for our food.” still eating, Paul said, “what? why?” so after I tyrannically whispered about the smells and sounds of the fat man’s vomiting escapades, the nonplussed Paul relented and followed me to leave. I gave the waitress a tip, but the people at Denny’s understood why we wouldn’t pay.
    so yeah, we did go to that diner in Delaware and the food was good and no one vomited. and you know, for a minute there I even thought about getting biscuits and gravy.
    but that New Year’s, I resolved to never eat at Denny’s again.

Chicago poet Janet Kuypers
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