Fun, Food and Friendship: Denny’s by Annie Thomas

6905 Highway 6 South
Houston, TX 77083


January 2004–As you follow highway 6 past 59, past West Airport, and follow the dark yellow lines until you hit Bellaire, you’ll fall right into a spot that I absolutely love. It’s located in the middle of Taco bell and a Tony’s dry cleaners in the South West side of Houston. It’s a small restaurant with a large yellow sign that says Denny’s in orange color, on top of a forest green color border. Almost of all of us know what Denny’s is; it’s been known for its good food around the nation. Last summer, Denny’s was our usual hangout it wasn’t a new restaurant, probably about ten or so years old.

We would go to Denny’s at random hours, anytime between noon and 4 a.m., even if we weren’t hungry. Of course, that’s what we all did during the summer time, eat, sit an sleep. So many familiar faces greeted us as we walked in, as the waiters who are supposed to serve us, actually became our friends. Some wore dark forest greenish colored shirts with black pants while others wore red and black shirts with black pants. After going there almost everyday, we knew the personalities of all the waiters, the interesting ones were: a man with the biggest hands in the world, a gothic lady with not only a nose piercing but also with so much make-up that she looked like she was dead, and a man to woman transsexual with a deep manly voice, dressed like a woman. While we waited for our food we could hear the stories the waiters told each other, the transsexual’s stories were usually the best and I actually learned a lot from him.

As humans we always judge people by how they look or act. It’s usually hard to follow the quote, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” He was the perfect example referring to that quote. When the first time I saw Mary, I thought to myself, what in world is wrong with him/her? Before I even talked to him, I assumed that she was an outcast to the society. Wearing his long fake eye lashes, thick dark eyeliner outlining the eye with gray colored contacts, the Marilyn Monroe style fishnet stockings and the extremely high heels with enormous breasts that screamed out the word “fake boobs”, he intimidated me. It was my first time seeing a transsexual up close. I used to laugh about the people that came on TV. programs such as Jenny Jones and Ricky Lake. I never took the time to really think about it from their perspective. They are born a sex, but with a personality of the opposite sex, or at least that was the story in his case. This world is hard enough for regular people for us to live in, think about all the intricacy he had to go through all his life. Through out high school, when the looks, popularity and all of those other worthless things mattered to all of us, he went through depression due to the humiliation of who he was. Life was a heart-ache for him; people staring at him like they saw a ghost, talking about the way he dresses like a women, the way he talks like a man and the way he puts makeup on like a women. But little did they know about his past, or what he went through in his life. When I got to know him, he was one of the nicest and caring people I have ever met in my entire life. I learned one of life’s important lessons from a waiter at Denny’s, which is of course; you never judge a book by its cover.

Even though to an ordinary person, Denny’s may look like just a regular cheap restaurant, but to me, every single trip to Denny’s was truly memorable. Now when I think back on our Denny’s trips, all I have are precious memories that I spend with my best friends. They mean the world to me and there are no words that will explain how much we love each other. It is funny how simple as a small restaurant Denny’s can restore, regain and renovate friendships. It is the atmosphere in Denny’s which attracted me the most; the cozy homely feeling ,the fans just in the right speed, playing the most amazing kind of music like U2’s “With or without you” the dishes as good as your grandma’s and the desserts that you’ll never get sick of . When I walk in there, I don’t feel like a stranger. For example, when I go to Olive Garden, I know I have to dress up, act all formal and sophisticated ,but when I go to Denny’s it is totally different. As I enter through the door, and right when I step inside, I feel like I belong there, almost like a second family.

When I open the glass door with the dirty handle, a bell rings making a DING DONG sound. Theresa, the lady with the nose piercing usually greets us with a warm smile, holding a greenish menu in her pale looking hands. Since two of my friends smoked, I usually sat in the smoking section to the left of the restaurant. The walls are an off-white color with some weird pattern on it. I always wondered how they traced it on there and my friends would mock me telling me to watch Martha Stewart and learn how to do it. The booths were pretty comfortable; there was thick old cushion with red and green flowery designs on them. Right after I sit down, Theresa comes to get us our drinks, which are usually four waters and one coke. By that time, Kash and Banny will slowly start smoking and I would start yell at them due to the smoke that is coming in my direction. Theresa would be standing there, holding her yellow pad writing our order down. Our usual meals are chicken tenders with three or four sides of ranch, the sampler; but instead of the onion rings, i get cheese fries, and the best, the fudge ice-cream. Talking about it is almost making my mouth water. As I wait for the food to get ready, I can hear the plates clink and the other customers talking among themselves about their careers, children and life in general. The booths are placed so close together that it’s inevitable not to hear other people’s conversation. One of our favorite events was when a father met with his daughter after eight years. I didn’t hear the whole story, but I heard part of it. Although it may look like I am nosy, but given that the booths are so close together, I just overheard them talk. Tears rolled down her eyes as she hugged her dad after yelling and screaming at him for abandoning her. The girl looked like she was about my age, wearing a white pinstriped shirt and black slacks. I didn’t really see her dad because he was facing the other side. It was a special moment, they hugged each other for a long time saying ‘I love you’ and ‘sorry for everything I did’. As they say, love conquers all.

Recently, when everyone came down, we decided go to Denny’s after a long time. It has been about a month since I went there. I thought that some things would be different, but it was like old times. Right when I was walking into the restaurant, I could smell the onion rings being fried. As the bell rang when we opened the door, Theresa was there as usual with a smile on her face and a menu in her hand. She guided us to our regular spot, the middle booth on the smoking side of the restaurant. She was happy to see us again, and she updated me about Mary, who wasn’t working that day. Walter, the guy with the world’s biggest hand, waved at me over the brownish colored counter top while he was making a cappuccino to the customer behind us. All of us were together again, in Denny’s my favorite place in Houston, where I learned about the world, people, love, and most of all friendship. It reminded me once more that the time we all spent together in Denny’s was priceless. It’s where Food, Fun and Friendship comes together. I wouldn’t trade a trip to Denny’s for anything else in the world.


Marilyn Monroe

Ricky Lake



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