Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, February 16, 2019, 12:14 p.m.
The Waffle House was hopping this morning. I could barely hear Olivia Newton-John over the din.
You’re the one that I want, you’re the one that I want, uh, uh, uh-uhhhh …
Keith and Robert Wooten – for some reason, everybody called Robert “Dan” in high school – were finishing up, and Keith and I talked about the 1977-78 reunion of two of Clinton’s state championship teams, both of which he was on.
When the Wooten brothers left, an elderly lady replaced them on the stool around the corner from mine. She was a woman I know but not by name. When I said hi and she said hi back, I think both of us had that feeling. We knew we were supposed to know each other. What I’m guessing were her granddaughter and significant other arrived soon to relieve the mild tension of name non-recognition. It’s always easier among men. That’s because it’s awkward to refer to an elderly lady as “bud” or “big time.”
Have you noticed that people who call you “pal” usually aren’t?
One waitress with one kind of red hair delivered my ham-and-cheese omelet. I was still getting the grits just right when another waitress with another kind of red hair dropped by and asked, “You done?”
I didn’t say, “Ma’am, I haven’t even started,” but the look in my eyes said it for me. She just wanted to leave the check, and I got a prompt coffee refill out of the deal.
Most days I fix breakfast at home, but I like to have it at a place where a man can take his time and chat with passers by. As a general rule, when I have work that takes me out of the house in the morning, I stop somewhere for breakfast first. Usually it’s Steamers on the Square, but it’s not open on Saturdays and Waffle House is a similar, if noisier, alternative. I like Waffle House. After a long night of sportswriting and picture taking in a somewhat distant town, I got up earlier than I should have and decided to go on a late-morning expedition that ended up with me test-driving a vehicle. I ditched the grocery store even though there’s almost nothing at the house.
Now NASCAR coverage of some sort is on TV and I’m paying attention to this blog instead, but I think I’m going to watch the race this afternoon, even though the nation’s leading scorer is playing for Campbell at Presbyterian College. That way I can chip away at work – people don’t stop dying and getting arrested even when the nation’s leading scorer is in town – and wait for the wrecks on TV.
A hometown is a place of soothing consistency. I must have said this a hundred times. It’s not that I love Clinton. It’s that I know it.
Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.
The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.