Pancake House (flash fiction)
Our family had dinner at a pancake house. No, it wasn’t a house made of pancakes. That would be silly and, frankly, unpractical. I suppose the first strong wind or rainstorm would bring down such a house in moments and ruin all of the homeowner’s belongings. Then you’d have to get the insurance people involved. And when that happens, things can get really heated.
Thankfully, things were not heated at the pancake house. The food was, thankfully, but the atmosphere was not. By that, I mean there was no robbery or kidnapping or anything like that. Which may sound exciting at first, like being in a dramatic movie, but I bet it would also be quite scary if it actually happened. And if it did happen, the police would have to get involved. Perhaps even the insurance people.
Speaking of people, there are many of them here at the pancake restaurant, spending quality time with friends and/or family, chatting about their lives and other people’s lives, and feeding themselves. In pursuit of sustenance, both of bodily nourishment and social interaction (in the flesh and not on a computer network).
They’re amazing, these people. Look at them enjoy this time together. These specific people in this specific place.
That woman and man, possibly in their 60s, are not talking much. It’s as if they’ve reached a level of comfort in their relationship and don’t need to jabber incessantly. That woman and man over there smiling broadly at their three kids shoveling in the chocolate chip pancakes topped with small hills of whipped cream. That group of teenagers giggling and loud, sharing a multitude of in-jokes, and people at nearby tables occasionally throw them frowning looks.
All of us, through whatever twist of fate or plans for eating, ended up here, in this place, at this very time. If you showed up a couple of hours earlier or later, the people would be different. You’d have different travelers joining you on this journey of dinner.
Astounding to think how this all worked out. All of these families and friends coming together at the same place and time. Those people over there could’ve come from a softball game. That table could’ve just come from Target where they built up an appetite getting all the clothes and things they wanted to buy. Whatever we were doing before, there was the rumble of hunger in our stomachs and then someone said, “Hey, how about the pancake house? Sounds kinda unconventional, I know. But I’m hankerin’ for some pancakes and eggs. Let’s mix it up. What do you say?”
It’s as if all of us received an invitation to come here at this particular time. As if our personal mobile devices chirped and buzzed and vibrated and there was the message: “Meet up at the pancake house. 6:30 sharp.”
It is a family reunion of sorts. Even though everyone doesn’t know everyone else’s names. That kind of thing happens at family reunions anyway when extended—far extended sometimes—family members show up: “Who are you again? Aunt Betty’s second son from her third marriage? Oh, right! You’re that Jason!”
Here, you could simply make up people’s names. Over there’s Aunt Betty and Uncle Joe with Jason and his sister, Frieda. Uncle Joe sure loves that Canadian bacon.
They’re amazing, these people. Simply, wonderfully, amazing.
I’m moved so much by them that, after I pay our bill and walk toward the exit, I turn back to the dining room and shout, “I love all you guys!”
They look at me funny. That’s just their way. I’ve seen it before.
copyright Dave Williams