8.72

8.72: IHOP

IHOP's Downtown location serves up gluttony and gastric blockage 24 hours a day. Photo by Dan Johnson.

IHOP's Downtown location serves up gluttony and gastric blockage 24 hours a day. Photo by Dan Johnson.

by Dan Johnson

In case you were wondering what the opposite of a month-long juice cleanse is, the answer is All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP!©

Short of chowing down on twenty dollars worth of fresh Play-Doh, there isn’t anything you can do to set your colon back more than indulging in plate after plate of hot GMO cakes grilled to perfection and coated with processed butter and multiple varieties of high fructose maple syrup.

From January 4 to February 14 (great Valentine’s Day date idea if you and your lover are into constipation play, by the way), you too can park your ass in a booth at the scantily staffed IHOP at 8th St and Flower St and proceed to stuff your hole with the quick service food equivalent of clay for a mere $4.99.

I’m IHOP loyal. I used to go there with my folks on Saturdays when I was a kid. Because IHOP has great breakfast and dinner options for the whole family and is conveniently located seventeen minutes away from my parents’ house so as to facilitate a perfectly timed listening experience for the DC classic rock station’s weekly 6pm play of the uncut version of Iron Butterfly’s “Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

If you’d have told me we were going to Denny’s ten years ago, I’d have spat in your face and called a cab. But this is the new look Dan Johnson. Despite the significant margin of my dignity that has eroded this past decade, I have managed to develop an unhealthy aversion to IHOP.

Is it the crowd of hungry and ungracious people perpetually haunting the 24 hour Downtown location? Is it the utter lack of staff that makes even the simplest request feel like you’ve initiated a quest from some arcane epic poem? Or is it the food that always tastes the same regardless of the hour, day, week, month or year that it’s ordered?

Life doesn’t deal in such cocksure measures of regularity. Which brings me back to my asshole which is backed up like the 101/134 split at 4:45pm on a Friday before a three day weekend.

See, I think the great untold truth of IHOP is that the whole crew, from CEO down to busser, is hip to the fact that strange bowel phenomena are part and parcel to the International House of Pancakes MO. That’s why the number-locked bathroom doors at the Downtown Location (496 FYI) has utility tape keeping the bolt from engaging.

Everyone responds to IHOP differently. Some need immediate, unquestioned access to a john. Others none at all.

I’m of the latter camp twenty-four hours after the fact. And, to be honest, I didn’t even do that much damage. I went ritzy with the $7.99 bacon, eggs and hash brown plate. That comes with the bottomless two stack, of which I could only manage to stuff one extra plate worth down my throat before I hated myself.

Four IHOP GMO cakes anticipating their imminent role: intestinal disruptors. Photo by Dan Johnson.

Four IHOP GMO cakes anticipating their imminent role: intestinal disruptors. Photo by Dan Johnson.

I can pinpoint the exact moment when the regret sunk in. “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany was bumping at a moderate but noticeable volume on the house speakers, the staff was manhandling a rain-soaked crazy out the door as she prognosticated in half sentences about being born again and I was just about to finish my third and fourth pancakes respectively.

I began to feel gross. Imagine your body sectioned off into twelfths. The segment between my navel and my hips felt like a box of kitty litter that had clumped together beneath the weight of too much cat piss. I looked at my reflection in the glass and somehow the glow of the neon sign reflecting back against the water lodged window spelled out the words, “you disgust me.”

Soon, I was cradling my head in my hands, staring down at the plate, trying to come to grips with the fact that I would have to carry this flapjack baby to term over what promised to be a lengthy and uncomfortable pregnancy. Relatively speaking, I wasn’t even in the first trimester yet.

This would be a long haul.

I didn’t realize how easy I had it until I asked the waitress what the record was. “52 pancakes,” she chirped without a moment’s hesitation. “He was filming it for Youtube,” she added.

“Was he a big boy?” I wondered aloud.

She looked at me like the sucker I was and said, “No, he was really skinny. Asian, I think.”

Takeru Kobayashi has a posse apparently.  

Future YouTube searches were inconclusive. As it turns out, hundreds have taken the All You Can Eat Pancakes at IHOP!© challenge. Fifty-two is child’s play. Four is embarrassing.

The Catholics, in their infinite wisdom, call gluttony a sin. For once, I agree. It’s horrid and demeaning to stuff yourself with food. It’s an insult to Earth’s bounty, a slap in the face to the world’s hungry and, worse still, a tragic venue for self-destruction.

A friendly reminder of the affordability of self-destruction. Photo by Dan Johnson.

A friendly reminder of the affordability of self-destruction. Photo by Dan Johnson.

I barely dipped my toe in the proverbial waters of pancake hell that is IHOP and I still feel like shit. But at least I feel something. Right Mom and Dad?

I award IHOP a “1” on the binary and suggest a 2/1 ration of Pancakes to Exlax.