The South is a scary place for this Regular NYC Guy!


The South. Just the word and imagery conjures up the willies in me. Every once in a while I travel down to these parts to visit family. They decided to do the old folks retirement thing and settle down in Florida a few years back. Yup – they hightailed it to the humid hot confines of the scary South to get away from the Northern winters. Seems like it’s a law or something that once you hit 65 or older you need to return to the mothership of Walmart and Waffle House. There are some freaks down here for sure. If Jerry Springer could be elected President of Crazy this would be his country. It’s a strange combination of retirees, transplants, an occasional native born here, and zombies from The Walking Dead. Oh, and don’t forget “The People of Walmart” as they seem to thrive in Florida. I am typing this post while on vacation down here with the parental units, and we are at the Tampa Hard Rock Casino for a few days before we do the Disney thing. Oh boy, are there some characters in this joint. I can hear “dueling banjos” playing in my brain constantly down here. Hey, we actually did pretty well playing dollar slots and poker. Also, we are fans of The Rat and the Death Star known as the Disney Parks. Say goodbye to my cash and credit cards! The saving grace is that we will be at Epcot for the International Wine and Food Expo which is an absolute blast. It’s the one day at a Disney park that turns into a drunkfest along with total gluttony! It’s like adult’s day to get bombed and it’s perfectly ok! I’m all excited for Brews Around The World. So. Much. Beer.

You all know what EPCOT stands for right? Every Person Carried Out Trashed! Good thing mom doesn’t drink so we have a built in designated driver. Poor mom. Mmmmm…..Beeeeer!

One thing we do which has almost become a tradition is hit up Cracker Barrel for a meal after we arrive. I just can’t help myself as I love these kitschy places to eat, and the general store is a riot. My weakness is their fried apples and biscuits. Oh. My. Gawd. Wandering around the store in a food coma for a bit I happened to notice this Christmas light set I just had to take a picture of. Yupper – those are real shotgun shell holiday lights. Nothing says Jesus, peace, and love like real ammo to decorate your tree with! I think I found this next to the NASCAR selection of items and penny candies. Yee Haw!










One thing I do have to give props to are the wonderfully creepy rest stops that can be found along I-4 while driving from Tampa to Orlando. Don’t get me wrong as they are well maintained, pretty clean, and offer a good vending machine area with a bunch of snacks and drinks to choose from. It’s just that at times they are deserted as in this pic I took before hitting the men’s room. No one in sight. After taking my place in front of the urinal a few dudes that looked like something out of a Swamp People bad dream came out of nowhere and took up residence at the urinals on each side of me. Both had mouths full of chewing tobacky. Mullets and ponytails. Camouflage hat and a big gut on one, while the other sported a Budweiser t-shirt with the sleeves cut off on his tattooed bean pole body. You ever seen the movie Deliverance? I really did not want to “squeal like a pig” so I got out of there quick, and this was during daylight! I have been to these stops late at night too. Really creepy. These are the places that nightmares are made of, but sometimes you just gotta go! Pee fast and run! You got a purty mouth, boy!

Of course, no trip to Florida would be complete without a pilgrimage to the Holy Grail of Rednecks the world over. This place needs no introduction. Waffle House!



Every time I walk into one of these places that dot the Florida landscape I feel as if they are about to film an episode of Teen Mom there. Or Kid Rock is about to bust in, start a fight, and sing a tune.

Alas, I just can’t help myself, as I love cheesy and tacky places, and Waffle House fits right in. Sometimes I get a craving for a nice malty waffle, sugery syrup, crispy bacon, and hot cup of joe. That is pretty much all there is to order here, and all I would want to eat here.

Waffle House is to the south like what Dunkin Doughnuts is to NYC. They are all over the place and pop up in strange locations. They never seem to go away. Like cockroaches. Yet, I really wish we had one in NYC close to my place. It’s waffles dammit! Me want!




Waffle House –

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48 thoughts on “The South is a scary place for this Regular NYC Guy!”

  1. Ahhhhh you’re in my neck of the woods! Dude, Epcot is da bomb—-one of my favorite places on earth. Be sure and spend lots of time at the Rose and Crown Pub. Outdoor Mexico has GREAT frozen margaritas and France makes some kind of frozen champagne orange thingy that is to die for. Best food is also in Epcot. If you like buffets, hit Germany or Canada. Have a blast! *I am sooo jealous*

    1. Hey Marcia!

      I love Epcot, especially during the food and boozefest expo! It’s a wonderful event that I have staggered out of many times now. The fish & chips at the Rose and Crown are delicious! I have had those margaritas and have also eaten in France! Of course, I have done Germany! Love it all!

      Gonna get drunk around the world!

  2. It sounds like a great trip!

    Sometimes I think PA lives up to the nickname “Pennsyltucky,” despite being so close to NY, with its Waffle Houses (LOVE THEM) and state holidays like Deer Day, which is coming up.

    Shotgun shell lights, however, are too far.

  3. Phil – you are a hoot. It’s not that bad but, you did forget the fried pork rinds and bbq – it’s all good down there. Stay safe and get back up here quick, ya hear?

    1. Hey Clay!

      It’s pretty scary down here when you still see people with Confederate flags eating those pork rinds and bbq! Actually, I prefer Texas style bbq over southern. That’s good eatin’!

  4. As a Son of Texas, I miss the Waffle House…. a lot.

    Now that I live in Maine, I maintain the ritual of facing Southwest and kneeling and praying to St. Jim Bob, the Patron Saint of Waffle House, 5 times a day. I do this while prostrate on a Creeper from my Daddy’s garage.

    I am a member of the Religion of a Piece…..of Bacon. (sniffle)

    BTW…for all the Yankees out there, they have done took the North and moved it South… Florida. 😀

    1. Hey Fearless!

      Yup – it’s like NY/NJ down here, mixed in with the Southern weirdos. And damn, so many people are obese down here too. Way too much Waffle House I guess!

  5. “Nothing says Jesus, peace, and love like real ammo to decorate your tree with! “

    You’ve nailed the essence of the South right there. I enjoy visiting family and friends in the South, but always return to the Midwest secure in the knowledge that I live in the right part of the country for me. To each their own, eh?

    1. Hey Ally!

      I hear ya. I like to visit and have fun down here but if I had to live here I would go nuts. I hate having to drive a car everywhere. There are some great states and cities in the South though. So much to see and do.

      Thank goodness the North won the Civil War. It would be way too scary otherwise.

  6. You just described many of the neighboring towns here in Texas. Who can beat the scattered,smothered, and covered hashbrowns?!! The waffle house was our drunk fest place at 2am when the bars close and we had the munchies in college.

    1. Hey Holli!

      I have family that lived in TX and know what you mean. That white sauce is on everything deep fried down there. Up here in NY we have diners open 24 hours that we would hit up for drunk breakfast at 4am after the bars closed. Oh, the drunk memories of chocolate chip pancakes!

  7. Hi Phil, I see vacationing is doing you well, inspiring one of your most hilarious Posts in a while! I think the guy replacing a couple warped cabinets in my kitchen is concerned I’m a bit wacked since I was laughing out loud so many times while reading. (That’s OK maybe it will frighten him to do the job right this time.) Thanks for the hilarity, wish I were at the Expo! Have a great time.

    1. Hey Peggy!

      Glad you got a kick out of this one. It’s always easy to get a good laugh making fun of our own peoples here in the good ol’ USA. Our country is great but also filled with freaky kitschy stuff which I love! The South has a lot of it!

  8. Thanks for reminding me of the film, Deliverance; my flashbacks have started up again!

    On my only visit to Florida in the year 2000, Epcot was my favorite park – so I can imagine a food festival there will be awesome. Enjoy.

  9. Your mention of Waffle House cracks me up. I only ever ate in one, and it was in Charlotte proper. However, I was told by a Southerner in the know to go and find one in the middle of nowhere and just take in all of the toothlessness in…

    1. Hey Jeri!

      LMAO! The toothlessness! That pretty much describes many in the south. Along with the big bellies, tank tops, and obesity I saw. My eyes!

  10. Agreed! It’s like with each mile you’re traveling backward in time. When we drove to Florida about a decade ago, we stopped at a gas station that didn’t take credit cards at the pump. The pumps weren’t digital, it had those strips of numbers rolling. I took a picture and the guy next to me thought I was a freak. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. We take our technology for granted up here in Chicago, I guess.
    Love me some Epcot! There’s a game where you have a beer in each country, and THAT must be how Epcot got that name because that is a really GOOD amount of beer, even stretched out over a day. Have fun! Talk slowly and use small words 😀

    1. Hey Joy!

      I would have taken a picture of that too. There are some things down here that make you shake your head.

      Love Epcot, and the Food & Wine Expo is a blast. Brews Around the World is the best way to drink at a Disney park all day! Being buzzed is a great way to deal with all the annoying parents and kids there.

  11. Philster…I left Western New York (they called it Buffalo for some reason) in the 70’s…and spent 28 years in South Florida, 4 years in Alabama, 6 in Tennessee and have resided in Mississippi for the last 8 years. Folk here still ask me what part of the north I’m from or, more often ask, ” You ain’t from ’round these here parts are ya?”, even though I have two sons that are pickup truck ridin’, gun ownin’, camo dressing Rednecks.
    I once picked Waffle House over Ruth Chris steakhouse for my birthday…my wife stayed in the truck while I dined over 3 eggs over easy, cheese grits, doule white toast and a tough steak…I was in heaven!
    I once asked an ol’ guy from ‘Bama who they routed for in the NFL…Tennessee, New Orleans, Atlanta…?, only to be told…”Son, Saturday’s fer football, Sundays fer racin”…words I now live by.
    Keep up the good work boy…but don’t lose your way back like I did…Jim H.

    1. Hey Jim!

      Sounds like you had some long time experience down south.

      That birthday meal sounds like a quality choice! I know what you mean by Saturday being for college and high school football, while Sunday is NASCAR day. It’s a religion down there.

      Heck, you all know this is tongue in cheek as I love all America, but you have to admit there are some strange things you see in our country.

  12. I spent seven years of my life in North Carolina and somehow have never eaten at a Cracker Barrel. I definitely ate at plenty of Waffle Hauuuuussssses though. And miss them up here in the land of Dunkin Donuts.

    1. Hey Cassandra!

      Actually, I wish they had both up here in the NYC area. I guess I’ll have to settle for eating at the multitude of diners we have here. Good pancakes though!

  13. Phil! A city boy in the deep south — what a fun culture shock. My parents bought a condo near Disney when my brother and I were little, so I know the weird joy you’re speaking of.

    I’ve never been inside a Waffle House though, is it nice? Is it clean? It always looks so run down from the road, I always wondered what it’s like inside.

    Oh, and your poor mom. Stuck with a bunch of drunkies in Epcot 🙂 I hope you guys let her get on a few rides in between the beers. You captured the weirdness of Florida perfectly. It’s such an odd state as far as the ratio of old people to middle-of-nowhere feel. Shot guns, huh? I’ve never seen that part of Florida, but always suspected there were many NRA fans. Fun post!

    1. Hey Jean!

      The weird joy is something that never leaves you when traveling down south. I can take Florida and the south in small doses and it’s always fun to travel down here but I could never live there. After a week in Florida, Tampa Casino, and Disney World I have seen enough weirdness to last a while.

      Glad you enjoyed!

    1. Hey UP!

      I can see that you are your friends are probably the only normal ones sitting at Waffle House. Keep on enjoying those waffles and hot coffee!

  14. My husband refuses to eat in Cracker Barrel, even though we have one every couple of blocks around here. Apparently he had to eat at them all the time growing up 🙂 We do have a Waffle House, but we have never actually eaten at it! We definitely do have horrible Southern Walmarts though, every weekend it’s a new adventure 🙂

    1. Hey Foodie!

      What? You have them close and he won’t try it again? Granted, it’s not high quality food but a good comfort meal spot. I like them!

      You also have a Waffle House? Go have some waffles!

      As for Walmart – they are all scary!

  15. You nailed it! Any time I hear a bizarre new story, I automatically think: it probably happened in “Florida.” The weirdest stuff happens down there. “Man shoots himself in foot.” Stuff that really doesn’t happen in any other state.

    When I was in school in Tampa, we used to go to the Denny’s down the street. Every night at midnight, they had a drag queen show. We used to get stoned and head down there for food and the show.

    I’d go to Florida just for the International Wine and Food Expo. Sounds like fun.

    1. Hey Lauren!

      Yup, we always see these bizarre tales coming out of Florida. I wonder why? Actually, the south as a whole is a bit freaky to me.

      Now that sounds like a cool Denny’s! Grand Slam and drag queens! Sounds fun.

  16. I just landed in Florida and yes, purple-haired grannies may be slightly overrepresented down here:)
    I’m in Naples right now, which is a little further down south than where you are right? But I’ll look out for a Waffle House.)

    1. Hey Mitzie!

      Oh yeah, watch out for the blue hairs and seniors – especially those driving. I swear there are the worst drivers down there.

      Just don’t get in those senior’s way during dinner hours at the Golden Corral. They will beat you down!

  17. I sometimes feel like I need a passport to go to Florida. Gotta love that you don’t have to go far in our country to experience something different.
    The Waffle House in our town had the W missing from the sign for quite a long time–still works. 😉

    1. Hey Coleen!

      HA! That is so true. It’s like another country. People should need a passport to enter and leave.

      As long as that Waffle House served up hot malty waffles it’s all good! 🙂

  18. Greetings from Florida Phil! I just spent the day at the KSC so believe it or not I was only a few miles away from you!

    I think you are giving these southerners a tough time 😉 They’re not too bad. And us Brits quite like the novelty of Wal-Mart, sure beats the crazy prices we can pay for things back in the UK.

    I’m currently surrounded by people for Biktoberfest too so I’m not sure how many people around here are genuine southerners.

    Ah The Waffle House! I don’t visit them often but I have memories of them in Atlanta most. It often feels like a game of chance when you enter these late at night because nowhere else is open. I’ve never seen anything bad happen in one, it’s just some of the people in there look like you don’t want to look at them in the wrong way.

    1. Hey Guy!

      I kid a lot but being a New Yorker there are some things that you see in the south that makes you cringe. I still love many things down here too. Each spot has it’s good and bad. And strange.

      I have heard that prices in the UK are kind of crazy. Maybe that’s why so many shop here during the holiday season.

      I have had that same experience as you when it comes to Waffle House, just enjoy your waffles and keep your head down.

  19. Man oh man I do NOT miss living in the South…just the food. Waffle House!!! Bojangles!!! I know Cracker Barrel has snuck up north, but I only go when down South. Damnit, now I’m hungry!

    1. Hey Jenny!

      I can’t help myself as I also hit these spots when I travel down south. I could never live there but I do enjoy the fatty comfort food!

Feel free to comment! We all have opinions!