I haven't been to Denny's since January.
Since January, I have not had the sacred and beautiful opportunity to throw a fork at someone, or just across the room when I felt like making a point. Neither have I gobbled down a Moons Over My Hammy and had a fat grams brain crunch freeze death overload eight minutes later.
Denny's is a very special place--whether you're in a ridiculous one on the strip in Vegas where everything is $2 more than normal, or one across from the Abbey Inn in Cedar City when there to watch plays with your parents, or Orem, getting crappy service and almost being caught by the swirling death vortex that is the loudest flushing toilet I have ever experienced, or in Provo, which has been cheerfully redecorated to look somewhat like a Training Table, or a Tony Roma's, being waited on by either the nice young Hispanic guy with diamond studs who never says a word, the older salt-and-peppered smiley man, or the hermaphrodite/cross dresser/in-the-middle-of-a-sex-change-er.
When I began going to Denny's with friends in oh, let's say, the eighth grade--for David Smith's 15th birthday--it wasn't on the pretense of some high level of emotion. But, inevitably, you walk into Denny's, you sit down in the greasy booth, you order some greasy food, or some pie, or some pickles in their own dish like Matthew does, and when this food arrives and you combine it with the water out of the teeny teeny carafe poured into your teeny teeny glass, or a strawberry shake, something happens that makes you take a deep breath and want to personally mind-cuddle with everyone at the table individually, whether this gathering is a quick pow-wow between you and your girlfriend about her DTR later that day, or a table with 13 people, only half of which you know.
You want to ask the guy on the far right how his dog is doing even though you have no idea if he even has a dog, because he's actually your good friend's grandma's sister's best friend's boyfriend and you only just met him tonight. But, somehow, you still want to ask him how old Yeller is doing. You're seriously concerned about Yeller. You secretly squeeze knees with the person across from you, or make up an interpretive dance with the girl sitting next to you about every subtle nuance of the guy that she likes who flipped his hair a bunch of times today at rehearsal, and what does that really mean? Although, you and this girl make up these dances every .2 seconds, so, it's not really a secret.
In the middle of a conversation about lint or what'syourfavoritebook or a critique on those odd new pancake hole things that come in a shake glass, someone at the table will bring up something very quietly, like what their favorite movie is and how much they want to watch it together or their failed marriage or the fact that they really just don't want to go home. Or that their junior prom was the best day of their life, and they're thirty-six and wondering when a day like that is going to come along again. Or that they're feeling excited, but scared and kind of unprepared. Or that they have two finals the next day that they're going to bomb but they don't care because they can sit and eat pancake puffs and potachos with the rest of us and right now, at 2:07 AM, it seems like a much better waste of time than pretending like studying. They're happy. Everyone listens. Everyone nods. People offer snippets of information, add sentences, suggestions about this statement or confession or expression of love for a movie. People sigh, we take sips from our water glasses which are empty because Mr. Waiter has stopped coming back to see if we're going to leave, so we haven't had new water in a couple hours. This is the stage of Denny's in which I feel I could easily climb into this pile of people under our table once we're finished eating and picking and discussing and most easily fall asleep in these wee hours of the morning, entangled and full of hashbrowns.
This is the magic of Denny's--I think I need to purge myself of the need to throw a fork again sometime soon. Or perhaps a soggy fry.