Spiritual Experiences with Comfort Food

An Order of Magnitude

by Large Dave

A local diner, some time between lunch and dinner. Though not as busy as peak hours, this fairly popular local diner has still managed to draw a crowd. It is set up in the typical diner style, with the kind of wooden chairs that make people say “hey these are alright” set up by tables of similar quality, and booths with easily washable vinyl upholstered benches set up along the wall. The color palate is a sea of the sort of purples and bluish greens that were all too common throughout the 1990s, and pink neon lights act as accents for the crown molding. Some of these lights have begun to flicker due to their age. The owner does not care due to his age.

The hostess – the owner’s eldest daughter – waits behind the front counter. She hasn’t had a customer in a few minutes, so she has decided to pass the time by checking social media networks on her phone. There is nothing new to see on MySpace, as has been the case for the past decade. She sighs, and quickly raises a hand to her face in order to stifle a small burp. She looks around – nobody noticed. She faces forward again and yelps.

Standing before her is a short and unusually rotund man of about 25 years of age. She didn’t see him come in, it was almost as if he had simply appeared there. His face was hidden under his sunglasses and neckbeard, the latter so thick that his double chin was entirely hidden. He stood with his hands in the pockets of his unfastened black trenchcoat. He slowly removed his right hand, which wore a black fingerless glove, and used it to tip his musty smelling fedora. “Table for one, please.”

“Of course,” the hostess replied. “Right this way.” She took a menu and headed toward an empty table in the center of the dining room floor. As she drew close she realized that the customer wasn’t following her. She turned around and was ready to call him over, but instead her jaw dropped in astonishment. The man held his arms out to either side and, with a gust of wind that ruffled the flowing length of his trenchcoat, he levitated through the air and over the seat she had chosen for him, then settled into it with an impossibly metallic THUD. ‘Who the hell is this guy?’ she wondered. She shook her head – it didn’t matter, she supposed – then offered the man a menu.

The man took the menu, but didn’t open it. He stared at it with such intensity that it almost seemed as if he was trying to see through it. The hostess could swear she saw his eyes glow with arcane energy for a second, and then he simply put the menu down. A waitress came over and exchanged looks of concern with the hostess, then drew her order pad. The hostess made her way back to the front counter.

“Would you like a few minutes to look at the menu, sir?” the waitress asked.

“I have already taken it in in its entirety,” he replied, totally bereft of any feeling.

“O-oh. Are you ready to order, then?”

“Yes,” he replied coldly.

“Alright then, what would you like?”

“I will have the Western omelet.” The waitress wrote this down.

“And for sides?”

“White toast, buttered lightly, and hash browns.”

“Alright, anything else?”

“I will also have a full stack of French toast.” The waitress wrote this down.

“Alright then, I’ll go ahead and bring thi-”

“I am not finished,” the man interrupted, catching the waitress off guard.

“Oookay then, what else would you like?”

“I will have the double bacon cheeseburger. Medium rare. Extra mayonnaise.” The waitress wrote this down.

A family at a nearby table turned their attention to the neckbearded man and the waitress taking his order. They stopped eating and watched as if they were witnessing the most interesting thing in the world. “Big boy hungry,” said their small daughter. The mother and father simply nodded.

“Will you have anything else?” asked the waitress.

“I will tell you when I’m finished,” the man stated in a way that sent a chill down her spine. “I will also have a dozen of your deviled eggs.” The waitress’s hand shook as she wrote this down as well. He continued. “A roasted turkey. Three servings of ham. A family sized platter of mashed potatoes.”

The little girl from the other table had made her way behind the waitress. “Big boy hungry,” she said, startling the waitress. Her parents had made their way over too. “Big boy hungry,” they added. The waitress, eyes wide, began to sweat.

“I will also have seven feet of sausage links,” the man continued. “A trough of green beans. Your entire pot of clam chowder. Nine Reuben sandwiches. The 6 foot party sub.”

More customers from around the diner gathered around, forming a circle. “Big boy hungry,” said a well dressed older man who was perhaps some sort of college professor.

“Big boy hungry,” added a young dental hygienist.

‘What the hell is going on?’  the waitress wondered, now approaching full panic. The man’s order continued still.

“Thirty pounds of macaroni and cheese, with no less than three thousand individual Bacon Bits. Twelve entire pies of various flavors. A five gallon bucket of Mr. Pibb. Fifty steaks, topped with mushrooms and onions. Three hundred and seventy six blueberry muffins containing no fewer than 23 blueberries each.” The waitress’s hands were shaking too hard at this point to write down any more. The crowd that had gathered around began a sort of weird cult-like dance while chanting “Big Boy Hungry,” driving her into a full panic. The hostess, noticing the commotion from her front desk, picked up the restaurant’s phone.

“Sir,” the waitress pleaded, “you have to stop. Please, it’s too much.” He ignored her as the crowd continued dancing and chanting, their tempo increasing.

“Big boy hungry. Big boy hungry. Big boy hungry.” The chanting had reached such a fever pitch that it should have drowned out the man’s ordering, yet somehow, as he continued, the waitress could hear every detail.

“An ocean of Coca-Cola,” he continued. “A continent of corn bread. A wheel of cheese so large that only Atlas himself may carry it, upon his mighty shoulders.” The waitress’s pad and pen fell to the ground as she clutched her head in her hands. She dropped to her knees and let out a panicked scream. At that exact moment, the kitchen doors flew open. The owner of the restaurant came out first, followed by the entire kitchen staff, knives drawn. The owner’s eyes went right to the neckbearded man as if he expected to see him. Eyes narrowing, the owner drew a revolver from the interior pocket of his suit jacket.

“He’s back!” shouted the owner. “Get him!” They all charged for the neckbearded man at once, but just as they got close, he simply disappeared, just as suddenly as he had appeared in the first place. The kitchen staff looked around, dumbfounded. The crowd that had gathered made their way back to their seats and resumed eating as if nothing happened. The owner looked disappointed as his staff made their way back to the kitchen. He put his gun away and approached the waitress, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Hey, are you alright?”

“Who was that?” she asked, sobbing.

“I don’t know, but he used to show up all the time. He hasn’t been here in years.” The owner offered the waitress his handkerchief.

“You’ve seen him before?” she asked, drying her eyes.

“I have, many times. I thought we finally got rid of him, but I guess I was wrong.”

“What are we gonna do?” The owner just shook his head and started walking away.

“You can take the rest of the day off if you need it. Next time he comes in, I need you to be ready.” He made his way back to the office. The hostess made her way to the waitress and put her hand on her shoulder.

“So, uh… you think they started cooking those seven feet of sausage links yet?”

2 thoughts on “An Order of Magnitude”

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