As punishment for finishing last in my fantasy football league, I now have to complete the Waffle House challenge. I must spend 24 straight hours in a Waffle House with one hour being subtracted for every waffle I eat. Under no circumstances am I allowed to leave. If there’s a grease fire, I go down with the ship.
How did this happen to me? I showed so much promise in school, and now this. It started when my best friend convinced me to play fantasy football for the first time. I was all for it until I learned about the punishment for whoever came in last. Whatever. I’m a professional sports writer. I know way more than all these measly law students and one accounting professor. All I have to do is get at least 11th out of 12 people.
The draft went down in my book as a roaring success. I’ll spare you the entire thing but here are the highlights. With the third overall pick, I selected Alvin Kamara. An awesome pick assuming he doesn’t miss four weeks. In the second round: Terry McLaurin. He’ll rack up tons of yards now that Ryan Fitz-Magic is throwing to him. Third round: Miles Sanders. Surely the Eagles will utilize this great talent, and not have Jalen Hurts run the ball 15 times per game. Fourth round: Julio Jones. A bit of a high-risk high-reward pick, but I’m beaming with confidence that he’ll score at least 65 points this season. And fifth round: Josh Allen. The 2020 quarterback fantasy leader. He actually delivered. IBM Watson predicted this team would finish third, confirming that it was worth every penny ESPN paid to have it on their fantasy app.
And thus ‘Not A House, A Mahome’ was born. Why do you have Mahomes in the name if he wasn’t on your team? Because ‘Not A House, A Josh Allen’ doesn’t make much sense, does it? This was later changed to ‘Not A House, A Waffle House’ as suggested by someone else in the league once my fate became clear.
The season got off to a great start when Raheem Mostert (7th rounder) sustained a season-ending injury after two carries. After losing my first 7, I began to suspect something was awry. In summation, I finished 2-12. I guess the takeaway is that life isn’t fair. Urban Meyer wins two games and he gets to go back to his mansion and dry his tears with hundred-dollar bills. I have to go to a Waffle House. I may not have been a very good fantasy coach, but I think most of the blame belongs to the fantasy general manager who is also me.
10:49 AM: Arrive. I barely ate yesterday and stopped to work out at the gym on the way here to work up an appetite. My tentative plan is to eat 24 waffles in the next five minutes and be home in time for The Price Is Right.
Noon: I’ve eaten two-and-a-half waffles and I’m ready to yak. You have to understand that these aren’t Eggo waffles. They’re big and have the same consistency as a mattress that has washed ashore.
1:00 PM: How can one be so out of breath while sitting still? I finally informed the server of what I’m doing and she says she’s seen two others do the challenge before. I had planned on doing a ton of work while I’m here but I made a fatal miscalculation in assuming Waffle House has WiFi. That’s why I’m writing all this on my phone. I forgot that, although it’s 2022, every Waffle House is located in a time rift where it’s always the day that the Korean War ended. Anyway, back to watching traffic.
2:00 PM: I still have no desire to try and eat another waffle. It’s been just me and the staff for a while now. “I’d let a chickpea on my face,” said the cook at one point. The entire staff sang “I’m a Barbie Girl.” Also I have a hotspot now, so you can all exhale. At 2:00 PM the shifts change and all the new servers have been made aware of my predicament. One came up to me to tell me that she won a Pick ’Em league because her favorite colors are green and yellow and she picked the Packers. She also told me I need to learn to “bet better” and she’s absolutely right.
3:00 PM: I am ready to get hurt again. I am ready for a waffle.
4:00 PM: It went down so easy that I’m ordering another one. The server has played a couple of country songs on the jukebox and also “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” A man with unsettlingly long, gray hair walked by on the sidewalk while FaceTiming someone and turned his phone towards the Waffle House sign as if to say “Look! A real Waffle House.”
4:40 PM: I hit a wall 3/4ths of the way through that waffle. That brings my tally up to 4.25 waffles. The only other customers here are a mom and her two young boys sitting at the bar. The mom is complaining to the server about vaccines, saying something like “They’re not giving my kids that vaccine.” That seems pretty par for the course considering where I’m at.
5:00 PM: Officially dragging ass. Need to pace around a little bit to prevent blood clots.
5:20 PM: The dinner rush has started. A man wearing full ceremonial military dress came in with his screaming baby, but I can’t say anything about it because I’m pretty sure that would be an act of terrorism.
6:00 PM: The gray-haired guy is outside again and he’s still FaceTiming.
6:10 PM: He’s still out there, pacing. What is he scouting the place for a heist or somethin’? Great. I’ll be here.
6:16 PM: He finally came inside and he appears to be accompanied by his family. I’m guessing the four adults will distract the server with a fake heart attack while the little girl sneaks away to crack the safe in the back room.
7:30 PM: My parents just left after joining me for “dinner” and boy did they look proud. My dad kept talking about how sticky the table is and my mom insisted I need to hurry up and leave because in the middle of the night, Eminem, yes that Eminem, might come into the establishment and “start fights.” I ate another waffle. That makes five and a quarter.
9:43 PM: My Zoom trivia league was interrupted by poor internet and I had to finish via my friend’s FaceTime. Never fear though; it was a rout. The shifts have changed again and now there’s a whole new wait staff I need to win over. One of them is coughing an awful lot. Good thing she isn’t wearing a mask so she can breathe better. A while ago, someone came in and asked for some tin foil. The good people at Waffle House provided, and he left.
10:08 PM: Oh God, she’s coughing up a lung.
10:42 PM: Just finished another waffle with extra COVID, bringing the total to six-and-a-quarter.
11:53 PM: I ordered another waffle but could only get through half. I’m done. Resistance is futile. The tally stands at six-and-three-quarter waffles. I’m just going to sip on water until the time comes to leave. 4:04 is the new target time. Honestly not that far away.
12:27 AM: My hands are dry but there’s no vaseline on the menu. Truly no one has suffered as much as I.
12:55 AM: One of the staff just accused a group of young black people of walking out without paying the check when two of the five of them went to the bathroom. Thank God MLK Day came around just a few days ago to remind us that racism ended in 1965.
1:38 AM: Eminem just ran through the door and is starting fights! No, not really, Mom.
2:44 AM: What I’m choosing to believe was a silverfish just scuttled under the jukebox.
4:04 AM: Leave.
In total I ate 6.75 waffles, which is 2,767.5 calories before factoring in the syrup and butter as well as the coke I drank. It’s OK though, I’m bulking. Now as I reflect on the challenge I can see how I grew not just in physical size but as a person. When I arrived I was anxious I would get kicked out once the staff realized the weird thing I was doing. By the time I left, my feet were confidently kicked up on the bench opposite me, my chargers strewn about the floor. I was practically part of the decor. I was as comfortable as one could reasonably be.
I had turned that Waffle House into a Waffle Home.
So what is the takeaway? I nearly didn’t play fantasy football because of the threat of this punishment. Should we not take risks? Should we be afraid to live because of the potential consequences? Yes. This was stupid.