Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fifty-Three, Oh Five for French Toast??!?

Ok. In posting a comment on another blog, I realized I never posted any sort of explanation on my blog about the origin of the name. Does anyone care? Probably not. But that hasn't stopped me from blogging about my life, the Redskins and movies for the past four (!) years. So anyway, here's the story.

Back in the day (sorry, Noelle), Rob (best friend for 25+ years and best man at my wedding) and I were taking our college classes at night after work. I would pick him up after work, we would play a few games at the arcade, grab McD's, get stomach aches from the food, then go to class. After class, most of the time, we would go to Denny's and have breakfast food at 10:00 at night. Rob's order would vary on occasion, but without exception, being the picky eater that I am, would get the same thing every time. French toast with bacon, side order of hash browns, large ice water.

One fateful night, it was my birthday. We hadn't yet turned 21, so we couldn't go out drinking. Ergo, it must have been '87 or '88. We decided that, perhaps, we were in a rut. We ALWAYS went to Denny's. Maybe we were missing out on something better. Maybe, as much as we liked Denny's, someone else had better food. We decided to try IHOP. [N.B. This is the IHOP on Rte 1 in Laurel which later was closed by the Health Department, and has since opened up in a new location a block away with a new building]

IHOP was a mistake from the moment we walked in. There was construction going on, and there was a jackhammer running for much of the time we were there. As a result of the construction, there was a huge hole in the floor in front of the men's room. Assuming you made it past the mini-Grand Canyon alive, the bathroom was filthy and smelly (to put it nicely). The service was slow, and the food was mediocre.

We finally finished eating. We decided we would get our check and write off the night to experience. I asked for the check. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes passed with no sign of our waitress. I finally got up to look for her and found her huddled over the register with her manager. "I'm sorry," she said, "the computer is down and we've been trying to find your check. I'll just write it up by hand." After watching her struggle painfully with paper and pen for about 5 minutes, she handed me a check with an amount circled at the bottom: $53.05.

At this point, in a raised voice which was about as loud as could be without shouting, I exclaimed, "FIFTY-THREE, OH FIVE FOR FRENCH TOAST??!?" The dining patrons around us turned their heads in unison like an E.F Hutton commercial, looking at me in disbelief. Then they turned their heads to their dishes as if to say, "How much is MINE going to cost??" The waitress said apologetically, "Oh, sorry. That's the tax." I shrieked in shock, "WHAT???" At which point, she took back the check, moved the decimal point over to denote $0.53 in tax and totaled the check. I promptly paid, and we got the hell out of Dodge.

Thereafter, any time anything seemed to cost too much, it became a standard expression of disbelief. We'd see a new car that costs $150,000 - "Fifty-three, oh five for french toast?" We'd see a $15 bottle of shampoo - "Fifty-three, oh five for french toast?" You get the idea.

Then, when I first gained access to a computer, I went by default to AOL to get internet access (this was pre-Comcast-or-Verizon-in-every-home). I decided to use an abbreviation (5305fft) of the expression as a screen name, but AOL would not let me start my screen name with a number (I think they do now, but it's irrelevant because I don't have the account any more). Therefore, I used fft5305!

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