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Things to Do in Denver When You're Dumb

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Exhausted after yet another long rehearsal to prepare for Worlds, the Bellas dragged themselves across campus.  From the moment they got back from Aubrey’s insane retreat, they had been busting their tails to get ready, knowing that the very continued existence of the group depended on them winning the elite competition. Add in the fact that most of the ladies were graduating soon and moving out, and it made for a group of weary and stressed out women.  

“I am staaaaarving,” Ashely moaned.   “Who is making dinner tonight?”

A chorus of “Not me!” rang out from the group.  “Somebody has to make food,” Jessica whined. “We should have started the crock pot or something before we left.”

“I am sick and tired of crock pot meals,” CR complained. “Everything tastes the same after a while. I want some real food - well, cheap and real.  I’d sacrifice the real part.”

Fat Amy trailed behind the rest of the group, looking like she was about to collapse. “This is ridiculous.  Let’s just go somewhere! I can’t handle waiting for anything to get ready. I need food NOW.”  She clomped a few more steps before adding, “ Plus, I’ve got some plans later and I need to keep my strength for it.” She nudged Emily and started loudly whispering, “Of course, I’m talking about…”

“Stop!” Beca interjected. “Stop what you were going to say. Nobody needs to hear that.”

CR picked the conversation back up.   “C’mon.  Y’all good to go somewhere?”  The ladies all mumbled their agreement.   “Good. Let’s pick a place.”

“Most places will take forever to get seated. Plus we’re all gross and sweaty,” Emily pointed out.

“Speak for yourself, you simple giraffe,” Amy countered. “I’m as fresh as an egg and bacon.”  The ladies all looked at their Aussie friend in confusion.  “It’s a flower.  In Australia?” she explained. “My mum had a big garden of them.”

“I could go for eggs and bacon,” Flo commented. 

“Ooooooh, we could go to Waffle House,” Ashley excitedly offered. “They won’t care that we are sweaty. There won’t be a wait to sit. And it is cheap.”  The ladies voiced their agreement until…

“No can do,” Beca said, shaking her head. “I can’t go there. If you all want to go, that’s fine. I can find something at the house.”  A general groan went up from the group.

“What the hell’s your deal with Waffle House anyway?” CR asked with irritation. “For four years you’ve shot it down every time someone suggests it.”

“Is this one of your strange quirks like not liking movies and thinking Chris Pine and Matt Damon look the same?” Stacie asked.

“They DO look the same. I … just … It doesn’t matter,” Beca replied defensively. “I just can’t go.”

“Red,” Amy poked Chloe in the back to get her attention. “You’re the expert on all things Short Stack.  What’s her deal with Waffle House?”

“Beats me,” Chloe answered, shrugging her shoulders. “She’s never explained it.”

“She’s so weird,” CR grumbled. “Who doesn’t like Waffle House?” 

“It’s not like she is a health nut,” Stacie added.   “We all have seen how she eats.” 

“She’s allowed her opinion,” Emily piped in. “Although, I do have to agree. It is a little weird that she is THAT opposed to Waffle House.” 

“SHE is right here!” Beca exclaimed. “I just don’t want to go. Can we just leave it at that?”

“No,” the group announced in unison.  “C’mon Beca,” Stacie pushed. “At least tell us why you hate it so much.”

Beca looked around at the faces of the ladies surrounding her.  They all stared back expectantly. Even Chloe raised her eyebrows, looking for an explanation. Finally, Beca threw her arms up in exasperation.  “Fine! I’ll tell you.”  Emily, Jessica, and Ashley clapped.  The other ladies broke into big smiles. “First, I never said I hate Waffle House. I said I can’t go there.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?” Stacie asked in confusion to the other women, who nodded their heads. 

“No, like I literally mean I CANNOT go there,” Beca explained.  Puzzled looks greeted her.   “Okay, so here’s what happened.”

I grew up in Portland, Oregon, as you probably know. There are no Waffle House restaurants there. No, we didn’t have Huddle House either.  Yes, but we only had a couple of International House of Pancakes. No, Oregon people do not have a problem with restaurants with the word “House” in them.   Amy, are you going to shut up and let me tell this or not? 

So we didn’t have Waffle House in Oregon. But, as you also know, I really love waffles. They are one of my favorite foods. So, when I was a kid, I found out that there was a restaurant called Waffle House. Let’s just say I was intrigued. I harassed my parents to take me, but we never were anywhere that had a location.  We would vacation in California and Washington - they didn’t have any either. We went to Michigan to visit my aunt one summer - no Waffle House. We went to New York City over Christmas one year - no Waffle House.  Philadelphia - nope. Washington DC - nope. It was like the Waffle Gods were set again me.  What? No, there aren’t actually Waffle Gods, Emily. Really? You thought that there were? Amy, stop insulting Emily.  Do you all want me to finish this story or not?

During my sophomore year of high school, we had a choral competition in Denver. While we were there, I noticed that there was a Waffle House on the way to the hotel where we were staying.  It was the first time I had ever seen one in person, and I started to figure out how I could make it there while we were in town.  The chorus was staying four kids to a room - you know, like on a normal high school trip. I was assigned to a room with two of my friends - Kenzie and Lola. NO, not Lola Bunny. Damn it, Amy, just stop interrupting. So it was the three of us and then this one bitch that no one liked named Eleanor. She was a super uptight obnoxious rule follower. Yes, Stacie, exactly like Aubrey.  Owwww! Chloe!  You know it is true.  That really hurt. Where was I? Right. Uptight Eleanor. I mean, you’ve all been on school trips, right? Part of the fun is breaking curfew and shit like that. Well, Eleanor wasn’t having any of it. She threatened to rat us out if we snuck out after dark. So we could only come up with one option. What?!? No, Lilly, we didn’t kill her. You guys are sick!  We were going to force her to come with us. 

Our last night in town rolls around. We finished up the competition.  What? We finished third, but that isn’t relevant. Yeah, Emily, it WAS kind of a big deal.  There were like a hundred schools from the Northwest that competed. Do you want to know our setlist too? Then STOP INTERRUPTING! So we finished up and we waited until everyone was in their rooms. Kenzie had snuck a bottle of vodka into the room in her bag, so we had been taking swigs of it in the hotel glasses while we waited for room checks.  It looked like water, so Eleanor didn’t suspect anything. The three of us were a little bit drunk. Maybe more than a little bit. After final check, we decided it was time to kick our plan into action. I’m not proud of this, but we had stolen Eleanor’s phone earlier in the evening. She was trying to find it and was kind of panicking. We suggested that maybe she had left it on the bus, so she should go and look out there. She, of course, didn’t want to go out there because it was against the rules. But we convinced her that it would be a quick run outside. We would go with her. She finally agreed, and we all snuck out into the parking lot. The bus wasn’t there, but there was a bus over in the Waffle House parking lot. So we said that maybe IT was our bus, and we should just run over there and check. She was pretty upset that she couldn’t find her phone, so she agreed. We thought she was missing a call from her mom or something. Turns out that the whole time she was seeing some senior boy from a rival high school that her parents didn’t approve of. He was supposed to be texting her, and she was worried someone else would find out.  Can you believe that? Miss Rule Follower had a troublemaking boyfriend on the down low.  And she had the nerve to get on OUR case… What? Yeah, oh right, back to the story.

We walked over to the Waffle House. We told Eleanor to go check on the bus, and that we would wait inside for her.  So we could distract anyone who wondered why she was poking around on the bus. The three of us got a table and congratulated ourselves on how we had managed to get to the restaurant without getting caught. Eleanor wouldn’t find her phone, and she would come to tell us. We would have already ordered, so we couldn’t leave. And we would order her something too.  The waitress came over to ask for our orders.  We said we all wanted waffles.  Then she says, “Sorry hon, but we don’t have any waffles.”  I KNOW, right? We just stared at her like she must have been joking. How in the hell does a Waffle House not have waffles? I guess I asked it out loud, and she got irritated and said that there had been some supply issue, so they didn’t have any stuff to make the batter. I had crafted this plan so well.  There was no way I was going to miss out because the WAFFLE House didn’t have WAFFLES.  Also, keep in mind, I was still a little bit drunk and prickly and … yes, Stacie … bitchy. So I started getting really upset. I said there was a grocery store right across the street. How about the waitress jog over there and pick up some flour and milk and whatever the hell else goes into waffles? Now she was pretty angry, but explained how there is some proprietary mix that they have to use. Proprietary my ass! I want waffles. I admit, I was probably being a little unreasonable. Kenzie and Lola tried to pull me out of the place. I pulled away and started yelling that I wasn’t leaving until I got my waffles. All of the people in the place are watching me drunkenly rant as I tried to prove I belonged in a Waffle House at midnight. The head cook came out from behind the counter and told us that we needed to leave. He was that stereotypical cook, you know? Big belly, greasy t-shirt. I didn’t back down, and I walked right up to this big guy and asked if he had eaten all the waffles. If that was why they were gone. Then I started poking him in the stomach and saying, “Pudgy pudgy pudgy, you’ve got waffles in your tummy.”

Oh, no. Stop your gasps. We haven’t finished yet, ladies. That was the just the start. Lola grabs my arm and starts pulling at me. I try to push her off, but she keeps pulling. Finally I look at her and she is GREEEEEN. All of the vodka was sloshing around in her stomach without any food.  Then she just explodes - like Aubrey level vomit - all over the cook. He’s just doused with it. He was quite angry. That sobered me up pretty quickly. I changed my mind and thought leaving would be a very good idea. Of course, right about that time, this piercing scream comes from the parking lot. Everyone swings their heads to look out the window.  Here comes Eleanor, running towards the front door and screaming bloody murder. There is a different big guy running a few steps behind her in just a pair of saggy underwear and a dirty tank top. The bus, as we knew, was NOT our bus. But Eleanor had climbed onto that bus and started looking around for her phone. However, THAT bus driver had been sleeping in the bus.  The poor guy thought someone had broken in, so he flipped out. He chased Eleanor out of the bus, waving a huge flashlight at her.  Like one of those Mag-Lites with the super intense beam. Eleanor now was in the restaurant and was scared to go back out, but we knew we needed to get the hell out of the there. As we were all watching the commotion, one of the guys who had been in the restaurant jumped up and ran outside screaming, “Stop waving that light! You’re going to spook the horses!” We start hearing a huge metal banging coming from outside. There is a horse trailer parked near the bus that we didn’t even notice on our way in.  Between Eleanor’s screeching and the light flashing around, the horses were getting worked up.  One of them had started kicking the door of the trailer. All of the sudden, the door flew open and three horses ran out into the parking lot. The guy out there started racing around, trying to get them. One of them just stood there like an idiot.  But the other two kept avoiding him. A few more people from inside the restaurant ran out to help. They caught one, but the other one got away from everyone and ran into the street.  Cars blared their horns, which only served to spook the horses even more.  The two in the parking lot whinnied and tried to pull away from the people holding them. The one in the street bolted back and forth. Cars and trucks slammed on their brakes trying to miss it. Somehow, no cars hit each other. But a Walmart delivery truck ended up smashing into a pole on the side of the road. It cracked and bent. Then there was a huge explosion as the transformer blew. All the power went out for like five blocks.  The power lines snapped and the pole fell onto the side of the Waffle House, crushing the roof and shattering half the windows. 

Needless to say, we were in massive trouble. The choir director got dragged over to the restaurant. They called all of our parents. The waitress and cook pointed out that I was the one that seemed to be causing the most problem. I didn’t even argue. I figured, “This might as well happen at this point.” We gave Eleanor back her phone and explained that she really didn’t have anything to do with the fiasco so it wasn’t her fault. The horses all got collected back into the trailer. Since we were all minors from out of state and we TECHNICALLY didn’t break any laws other than underaged drinking, no charges were pressed. I’m pretty sure all of our parents had to pay damages, but I never heard amounts. I just got a lot of passive-aggressive comments like, “Yes, Beca, it would be nice to order pizza, but we already are paying Waffle House” and “Whenever you think about how unfair it is that you don’t have a car, think about how unfair it is to get a phone call at midnight from Denver…” We got booted out of choir. I got grounded for like six months. As part of an agreement to not make us pay for all of the damages to the restaurant, we were told to never come to a Waffle House again.

So that is the story of how I got banned from Waffle House.

The Bellas all stared at Beca with their mouths hanging open.   “You’re shitting me,” CR finally managed to say.

“Nope,” Beca replied. “Every word of that was true.”

“I can’t even…” Emily whispered.

“Beca,” Amy said, clapping her on the shoulder, “I have definitely underestimated you my minute friend. You are far more exciting than I believed.”

“Ummm… thanks?” Beca looked at the Aussie with confusion on her face. 

“You’re serious? All of that happened?” Chloe questioned with suspicion on her face. 

Beca looked back at the redhead with a completely serious look. “Absolutely.  Trust me, I wish I could go. But that was part of the agreement.”

“Do you really think that they meant that you could NEVER go back?” Stacie asked.   “I mean, how would they even know? That was in Denver; this is Georgia.”

“And it was SIX YEARS ago,” CR added. “That’s a long time. I think you are overthinking it.”

“I don’t know,” Beca said with hesitation. “They were really angry. And we all agreed.”

“C’mon, Beca,” Stacie pleaded. “Let’s go try. Everyone is starving, and I’m sure you could go for some waffles. There won’t be a problem.”

Beca sighed deeply, knowing she had lost.   “Fiiiiiiine, let’s try.”

The ladies all cheered and gained a bounce in their steps as they strolled towards the bright yellow lights indicating they were close to the Waffle House.  They discussed what toppings they would get on their hash browns and how many waffles they would get. A few minutes later, they reached the front door. Beca hesitated at the door and looked back at Chloe.  The redhead offered up a bright smile and nodded. They pulled the door open and the full crew walked inside.

When the waitress saw them come in and spotted Beca, she yelled, “Oh no no no. Nope! Get out! You, go on. Get out.” She pointed right at Beca as she said it.  Then she looked at the other Bellas.  “Are they all with you?!? Then you get out too.  Just all of you, go. Get.”  She pushed the ladies out the door and locked it behind them. Then she stood at the window and glared, waving her hands to shoo the group away.

Stunned, the ladies stood together in the parking lot, looking at each other.  “Holy shit,” CR exclaimed. “They threw us out!” 

“You were telling the truth!” Stacie cried. “That whole insane story was true!”

“Of course it was true,” Beca protested. “I told you that. You thought I made that up?”  The Bellas looked around sheepishly, shrugging their shoulders. “I don’t believe it. You thought I was lying.  Well, it serves y’all right! Now you’re probably on the Waffle House Banned List too.”  She smugly smiled and crossed her arms. 

Jessica quietly spoke up, “We are still really hungry. What do we do now?”

“I really want a greasy breakfast,” Flo added. “We’ve talked about it so long that now I can’t think of anything else.”

“Isn’t there a Denny’s down the street?” Beca asked. “That place is kind of sticky and greasy. We could go there.” The rest of the Bellas nodded and voiced their agreement.

“Ummmm,” Chloe nervously spoke up. “I can’t go to Denny’s”

“Good Lord,” Amy exclaimed. “They really are made for each other.”