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The Column

Fast Food, Slow Digestion
3/6/05

How come the majority of people at the International House of Pancakes look like they're from West Virginia?

When I walk into IHOP, I don't see a table full of Japanese people or an Italian family waiting to be seated. I see a heavy-set white guy wearing a red-checkered flannel over a "God Bless America" t-shirt with an American flag bandana around his upper arm and a mesh hat that says "Git 'R Done."

Incidentally, "Git R Done" is the most annoying phrase a comedian could hear. For those of you with taste, you might not know that's comedian Larry the Cable Guy's catch phrase. Translated to English, it means "get her done," and people have adopted this phrase to replace any semblance of original thought. If you use this phrase, you might as well be saying, "I tried having my own opinion, but I give up. I'm sorry, I just don't have a thought process." But that can't fit on a mesh hat.

There is nothing International about the House of Pancakes. Calling it that is like Major League Baseball claiming to host the World Series. Sure, Canada shows up every now and then, but the event is really based in America.

I wonder if IHOP's clientele is proud of their diversity when they eat there.

"Come on kids, we're expanding our horizons. Let's go eat at that International place. I hear some of their maple syrup is from the far off land of Vermont."

I eat a lot of fast food, so I have time to contemplate things like this at length. During a recent trip to Denny's, I began wondering who Denny was, and if he'd had his cholesterol checked out lately. When the healthiest thing on the menu comes with eggs, sausage, and pancakes, regulars ought to get a check up once in a while.

"I don't understand why I'm so unhealthy, Doc. I mean, I eat three square meals per meal!"

McDonald's has a cool feature where when you order, you see the average wait on the register. I think it would be more interesting to see the average weight instead.

"The average wait is 90 seconds. The average weight is 315 pounds."

"Great. Can I have a double-quarterpounder with cheese? Make that a large meal."

"316 pounds."

I love fried chicken, and my favorite chain is Kentucky Fried Chicken. Which is the only thing I know that's made better by the use of the word "Kentucky" in front of it. I've never sought out a Kentucky Public Library. For those Kentuckians offended by that joke, take a look at the motto on your state signs. "Welcome to Kentucky - Where Education Pays." Is that because if you have your GED, you make more than anyone without it? Maybe I'm still bitter because Kentucky is where I totaled my car. Though I still allege that accident was caused by a cop parked on the interstate, I also admit I was driving erratically from laughing so hard at the "Education Pays" sign.

I haven't eaten at a Jack In The Box yet, but that's because I'm afraid of anywhere that sells Burgers, tacos, and egg rolls on a value menu. Maybe it would be better to have jack in that particular box.

It's gotten hard to find local restaurants, outside of big cities. Country cafes aren't nearly as common as they used to be. America's landscape is now littered with Chick-Fil-As and Waffle Houses. Most of the country looks like a poor man's Las Vegas, where the Bellagio and Venetian are replaced by True Value and Dick's Sporting Goods. And those lit signs need to be fixed. More often than not, you'll end up eating at the FLE HOSE.

I don't think A&W should serve more than Root Beer, I hardly go to Hardee's, and Papa John sounds like the creepy guy who gives you pennies on Halloween, But since it's increasingly difficult to find a privately owned business and it's not worth an extra $4 per meal to see crazy stuff nailed to the wall during dinner, I end up eating fast food more than I'd like to. I can't really resist. The tastes are familiar, so when I see a sign I begin craving what I know. And while I love the convenience, it's a tough world to be healthy in. Most religions have a version of the messiah who went on a hunger strike. That'd be almost impossible now. Instead of fasting for 40-days, it'd be fast food for 40 days. And by the end of it, you'd have Jesus Christ Super Size. I wonder if he could still walk on water if he polished off a few orders of Moons Over My Hammy.

Though Jesus came from the Middle East, so maybe he would be more at home at the International House of Pancakes. Or the Internal Hose of Pances.

"Git R Done!"

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