I almost received a new Indian name. It was when Sara and I went to our third Denny's restaurant in three states on the same day. I had been craving Belgian waffles for a week.
It started innocently enough at the end of June. I was meeting Sara for lunch at the Denny's in Window Rock, Ariz., and, as I waited, I perused the menu and my hungry eyes fixated on Belgian waffles.
Sara — keeping me waiting, as usual — allowed me plenty of time to fantasize about that delicious waffle, sweet maple syrup and scrumptious, sizzling bacon.
After Sara ordered some vegetable-laden monstrosity, I boldly said, "Belgian waffle!"
The waitress said, "Oh, you know what …?"
You may not know this, but nothing good ever follows "Oh, you know what …?"
Nobody says, "Oh, you know what? I forgot to tell you that you won the lottery!"
It's always something like, "Oh, you know what? I forgot to tell that my herpes test came back today …"
Okay, so for a week I had time to build up my determination to enjoy a waffle. Not just any waffle, either. It had to be Belgian.
So we find ourselves in Cortez, Colo., where I wanted to visit friends for my birthday. As an author, I am proud to say that millions of readers refer to my birthday as "just another day."
It's a start.
As the waiter takes my order I explain how I have wanted a Belgian waffle for a week. He takes my order and leaves. Soon, he returns to our table.
"Oh, you know what …?"
Egads! A second Denny's claims that it's wafflemaker is out of order.
The truth, I am starting to believe, is that Belgian waffles have been banned ever since Belgium kicked the U.S. out of the World Cup.
The third Denny's we came to was in Gallup, N.M. By this time, Sara was calling me Chief Many Denny's.
"Belgian waffle," I ordered, as I continued to look at the menu so I'd know what to order when their waffle machine was out of order.
But, I got it. Finally.
In fact that whole birthday thing turned out pretty swell. Well, except for the getting older part.
The city of Cortez put on a magnificent fireworks in Centennial Park in honor of my 54th birthday. I'm not sure why they did it on July 4th, since my birthday is the 6th — but I appreciated the thought.
Sara and I agreed that it was one of the most spectacular fireworks display we had ever seen.
So, we'll be back in July, 2015, Cortez! Try to remember it's on the 6th, though.
?As for the birthday itself, it was pretty darn good! First Don and Ellen gave me a flying, noisy monkey; then the next day, Sonja and Ed gave me a monkey, too!
What was up with all the monkeys, Sara wondered?
"Oh, in my younger days, my 'banana' had lots of appeal," I explained.
Did you know that marijuana is legal in Colorado? I'm not admitting to anything that might tarnish my image as "America's Sweetheart," but let's just say that I forgot I had a bad back for a few days.
Now, where did I put those potato chips …?
John Christian Hopkins is a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe of Rhode Island. He is the author of Carlomagno. He currently lives on he Navajo Reservation with his wife, Sararesa.