It’s 1:30 a.m., you are slurring your words and swearing as you bump into the furniture in your room. You frantically pace around in restlessness, rambling about how you think you found “the one” at a party at Georgia Tech. Drunken confidence overwhelms you. You can climb the highest mountain. You can swim the vastest of seas. You are the perfect image of a mighty mind that feeds upon infinity. But beneath this facade of euphoric hubris lies a wanting for more.
You are ravenous. Your limbs feel weak and heavy, so you saunter to your chair like a puppet with a faulty marionette. Reflexively, you pull up Postmates, effortlessly navigating the cracks on your iPhone screen as you scroll through the multitudinous eating options. Is it expensive? Yes. But in this particular moment, your hunger obfuscates all rational judgment. You would give up anything for the sweet release of satiation.
“But what to order?” you ponder.
The alluring golden arches of McDonald’s catch your fancy as your daytime obsession with the trivialities of “eating nutritiously” and fear of “Type 2 diabetes” are thrown out the window. Chicken nuggets, in particular, stand out on the upcharged online menu. The image etches itself into your mind: twenty golden-brown nuggets of joy, glistening in oil in their humble cardboard box, like pearls in a clam. The resistance of the crispy skin, the fibrous juiciness of whatever it is they call chicken doused in the zingy sweetness of Sriracha Mac sauce — you envision it all as vividly as your first kiss.
On a night like this, perhaps what you seek isn’t childlike comfort food as much as textural complexity. Fortunately, Pho 24 Vietnamese Noodle House is here to help, its silky smooth rice noodles a perfect vehicle for the aromatic beef or vegetable broths, which are teeming with spices. You imagine scarfing down a bowl of noodles like Chihiro’s parents in “Spirited Away” and your mouth salivates as you start scrolling through their menu.
Before you are able to pester the nearest person for Postmates credit, your eyes catch the one chain that can beat even McDonald’s’ quintessentially American appeal by means of its flair of Southern charm. Waffle House. In your delirium, the letters on its logo dance around, as if to read “pick me”. As Freud (sort of) said, the ego is not master in its own Waffle House, so you quickly proceed to scour the menu. Will it be the irresistibly crispy hash browns adorned with every excessive adverb they have to offer? Or will it be the pecan waffles, cloaked in sinfully rich whipped spread and dressed in peanut butter and chocolate? No matter which star you choose amidst the constellation of menu choices, one thing is for certain: only breakfast food can fill this waffle-shaped hole in your stomach now.
With all of this in mind, you finally arrive at a eureka moment, like Newton as the apple hit his head. A dining option that simultaneously incorporates the lavish oiliness of a fast-food chain with the American justification of breakfast at any time of the day. You had heard rumors from upperclassmen of its unparalleled provision of diner food options. On your occasional Lyft journeys to Ponce City Market, you had peered curiously at its ‘70s-esque neon sign that proudly lights up Ponce de Leon Avenue like an aesthetic antonym to Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
Majestic Diner. Is it a Postmates delivery away? But no, you don’t care, because in your gastronomic depravity you would walk to the ends of the Earth for the perfect midnight breakfast. $8 plus tip later, you stand face-to-face with the post-game juggernaut, which so proudly houses a swarm of similarly starving Atlantans. Options span every corner of the extensive menu. You glance at the breakfast sandwiches, carefully considering the delightfully pillowy bagels that so comfortably sandwich the combination of eggs and cheese or the sharp, smoky taste of lox. The mental calculus behind your decision is magnified by the allure of the pancakes with their cloudlike fluffiness only made better by a thorough dousing of maple syrup. Oh well — you decide to get both to find out which one is more worth it.
You end your meal full, slightly sleepy and inexcusably guilty. Now that the ravenous stupor has fizzled out, you begin to question your life choices. “How did I convince myself that it was a good idea to eat breakfast at 1:30 a.m.?” is a question that you can barely even try to answer on your long drive home. But while your mind races in anxiety, deep down, your stomach knows that you made the right decision this Friday evening — or rather, Saturday morning. Though you will sleep with an empty wallet, your stomach will be full and your heart at ease.