Early this morning, a naked, armed man walked into a Waffle House near Nashville, pulled an AR-15, and killed 4 people.  Others were injured, including the guy who wrestled the gun from the hands of the shooter.   The shooter fled on foot.  He is still at large.

Now, I feel that I should tell you - Waffle House plays a large role in the lives of anyone who has ever lived in the Southeastern US.  Which... howdy!

So, let's talk about a few of my happy memories in re: Waffle House.

1.  Winter 1981 (approximated) - My mother (a nurse) was on call.  She got called in around 8PM and had to take me and my sister with her to the hospital.  I was in first grade, my sister was in third.  Dad was working nights (as he did), so he wasn't home to keep us.  So, Mom parked us in the nurses' lounge with some heated blankets and we entertained ourselves and dozed.  Dad came to get us on his way home from work, and it was brutally cold out. and late - probably midnight or so.  He stopped at the Waffle House closest to our house.  There, he ordered us waffles and hot chocolate.  We ate them, then went home and went to bed.  I recall he and Mom letting us sleep in and go to school late.

2.  Fall 1990 -  I was a sophomore in High School.  A senior, Paul, asked me to the Homecoming dance.  I knew Paul was seriously broke, and I didn't want to bleed him dry.  So when he asked where I'd like to go for dinner, I suggested the Waffle House. He couldn't believe I was serious.   But I was, and we went, and it was delightful.  I don't remember much else about the dance, except that he was a pale, pale dude, and in our photo, we both look quasi goth.

3. May 1993 - The morning of two major events - my AP Euro History exam and my Senior Prom.  I met my history classmates for breakfast before the exam.  And I remember seeing a bluebird fly past me on the drive there.  The exam went well, prom went even better.

I call this "Eating Beige".

4.  December 2003 -  Matt and I took Mom and Dad to see Simon and Garfunkel/The Everly Brothers at Phillips Arena in Atlanta.  After the concert, we dropped my parents off and we were both really hungry.  So we went to Waffle House (the same one from 1981).  We ordered, and I inhaled mine.  I had been hardcore Weight Watchering, and this was about a day's worth of food for me.  The sweet waitress came to take my plate and said approvingly, "Baby, you were hongry!"  We still use that expression today.

5.  Summer 2015ish, maybe?  - One night, Matt and I were at our local WaHo, and we witnessed a waitress in her 60s getting an earful from a junior manager about the correct way to make a waffle sandwich.  He was being a complete asshole, and we were not impressed.  As a result, we ended up giving her a big, big tip - because our food was perfect.  Fuck that guy.

There are a bunch of other Waffle House encounters I could share.  I won't, but I could.  Like the first time Matt and I went together.  Or the time we went in Chattanooga.  Or the Christmas dinner we ate at the Ringgold, GA Waffle House.  Or the time after my reunion.  Or his reunion.

The point is - don't let the actions of one deranged, armed, naked man affect your entire history of Waffle House.

And I don't know - maybe pass some fucking legislation so that we aren't having to bury people who just wanted some eggs and coffee.