Could you survive a Waffle House brawl?
Please note I did not say "win" a Waffle House brawl
First off, a huge welcome to all the new F&AB subscribers! We had one of those nice subscriber spikes this past week, so if this is your first delivery, very glad you’ve decided to join us. Most weeks, we celebrate the beauty and absurdity of the South here, finding meaning in the past and hope for the future. Most … but not all.
I can’t prove that Waffle House cooks are required to know hand-to-hand combat, but I don’t really feel like disproving it either. As anyone knows who’s been at a Waffle House after sundown knows, you start trouble at a Waffle House at your own risk. You might end up on the wrong end of a spatula, or a thrown chair, or a slicing menu, or even a rock star’s fist. And you’ll definitely end up on social media; enter “Waffle House fight” into any search box and settle in for hours.
We take requests here at F&AB, and frequent reader Pat M. has asked — nay, demanded — I write about the time Kid Rock got his ass kicked at a Waffle House. We’re always down for a good Waffle House story around here — the collection of one-star reviews remains one of my most popular posts ever — so let’s serve this one up hot n’ fast.
You probably already know Kid Rock, the Michigan-born, mansion-raised rapper-turned-rocker-turned-country singer. He’s the last of a dying breed, the livin’-larger-than-life rock star … which would be a whole lot more tolerable if he weren’t always so hellbent on telling you what a legend he is, namechecking Johnny Cash, George Jones, the Beasties and the Stones to hitch his wagon to their popularity. I say this as someone who truly, unironically enjoys quite a few Kid Rock tunes: the man has an eminently punchable personality, so it’s no real surprise that back in 2007, he found himself in a scuffle in one of the South’s terrordomes.
You can see Kid up there in the white warmup suit and ballcap, winding up for a swing at the gentleman in green. Normal behavior for 5:18 in the morning, right down to the server who’s trying to break this up without even letting go of their order pad.
Here’s where memory and reality diverge. I remembered the story as Mr. Rock getting mouthy with someone in a Georgia Waffle House and absolutely getting his ass scattered and smothered. Not so, as it turns out!
I won’t go so far as to say Kid Rock was a victim here, but he was in the midst of paying for everyone’s breakfast — and tipping the staff well, which is a noble trait. As all this was going down, the dude in green was apparently harassing a female member of Rock’s post-concert entourage, possibly with the intention of provoking a fight, which is not exactly a stretch goal in this situation. Kid and crew sought to resolve the difference of opinion by presenting a rhetorical counterargument, one which consisted of climbing over the booth and throwing hands.
Surveillance video from the scene shows that the gentleman in green realizes pretty much instantly that he’s made a serious error in judgment, and tries to shove his way out of the restaurant like a parent fleeing a birthday party full of six-year-olds. Much like that poor parent, the fellow in green doesn’t make it out, and gets pummeled by Rock and crew for a few seconds over near the jukebox.
The Kid Rock entourage decided that this would be a good time to depart the premises, and that probably would have been the end of it had he not been, you know, an internationally famous rock star traveling in a fully tricked-out rock star bus. Cops chased him down and arrested him and several members of his crew. (The gentleman in green apparently didn’t garner much sympathy, given that he allegedly smashed a window in the course of the fight.)
Kid smiled for his mug shot and signed autographs on his way out of the Dekalb County jail, and nine months later paid a $1,000 fine and agreed to six hours of anger management counseling and 80 hours of community service to put the whole thing behind him. (No word on whether he fulfilled the terms of that counseling and community service, but it’s been 14 years now, so we can probably let it ride.)
So what can we learn from the Kid Rock imbroglio? Best I can tell, the only real tactical error Rock made here was being famous. Granted, we should all keep control of our emotions and not allow confrontations to rise to the level of fisticuffs, but sometimes pots boil over, you know? With that in mind, let’s discuss what to do if you find yourself in the middle of a Waffle House fight.
For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to assume you are neither the instigator (in which case, you deserve whatever you get) nor the retaliator (you’re dancing with a tiger, friend, good luck with that), but rather a bystander, just enjoying your pecan waffle and hash browns. (Nobody’s “innocent” in a Waffle House fight, sorry.) What do you do?
Let’s run down your options in this situation:
Claim the high ground. Observe how Kid Rock handles the situation above: he leaps up onto the booth and begins punching downward. Rock was clearly following the teachings of Sun Tzu: “On accessible terrain, he who occupies high Yang ground and ensures his line of supplies will fight to advantage.” Unfortunately, “The Art of War” does not contain advice for how to handle napkin holders and sugar dispensers getting whipped at your skull, which is exactly what would happen if you made yourself that kind of a target.
Throw your food. Waffle House offers a bounty of delicious foodstuffs, from the eponymous waffles to eggs to hash browns to sausage to grits. All of them can come in handy when hurled; the grits, in particular, can stick and cause lasting damage to exposed flesh. Counterpoint: you’re throwing away Waffle House food, which is at minimum a venial sin.
Run. Putting yourself in motion makes you an even more enticing target. Use this approach with caution. Also remember: if you run away, you can’t film the fight, layer over a soundtrack of “Why Can’t We Be Friends,” and become a TikTok superstar.
Scream. If you possess some powerful pipes, you might be able to calm the tides with your dulcet tones alone. Caution: Watch your pitch, or you might drown out the jukebox playing one of the Waffle House favorites like “There Are Raisins In My Toast,” and woe to you if that happens.
Lay down some suppressing syrup. Fights can’t spread if the combatants are stuck to the floor. A dousing of some thick, delicious Waffle House syrup on the floor can bring a fight to a halt in a hurry. Downside: You make the floor damn near impossible to clean, and forcing a Waffle House waitress to work extra when she doesn’t need to is an express ticket to hell. Often within the next few minutes.
The correct option, of course, is None of the Above. There is no way to “win” a Waffle House fight. Survival is your only goal. Just sit there quietly eating your meal, right up through the moment some poor slob gets thrown onto your table. You’ll be a social media legend when video of the fight goes viral and you’re the chill cat there just sipping their orange juice as chaos erupts all around them.
Victory lies in stillness. Plus, you’ll probably get your meal comped.
Shameless community building time! Please let me know your preferred Waffle House order. I’ll try ‘em all. For research purposes only, of course.
Song of the week: “Abilene,” Plains
Whew. That was a lot. Let’s lower the temperature in the room. Here’s a bit of chill-out music: one of the first cuts off an upcoming album by Plains — the pairing of a couple singer-songwriters, Jess Williamson and Katie Crutchfield (who records under the project named Waxahatchee … dang, this is getting confusing). “Abilene” is a beautiful, haunting tune in the heralded “I’m out of here, don’t follow me down the highway” tradition, like so:
Young lovers like to dream We'll settle down and we'll make a good team Well Main Street was cute and the rents there were cheap But I was too much for you and for your Abilene
The full Plains album comes out next month, and judging from the first couple songs, it’ll be worth your time. As always, “Abilene” and every other song I’ve highlighted in this space appears in the ever-growing Flashlight & A Biscuit Spotify playlist:
That’ll do it for this week. Thanks so much for hanging! Stay frosty out there in those Waffle Houses, my friends. See you back here next Saturday!
This is issue #73 of Flashlight & A Biscuit. Check out all the past issues right here. Feel free to email me with your thoughts, tips and advice. If you’re new around here, check out some of our recent hits:
On Willie Nelson and his magnificent old guitar
Thoughts on the first cool day of autumn
What’s your favorite bookstore?
What does “Flashlight & A Biscuit” mean, anyway?
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