The Waffle House is, perhaps, one of the greatest eating establishments ever constructed. It's impossible to quantify a person's preference and I imagine mine is closely related to the fact that I haven't eaten at a Waffle House in nearly ten years. Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder and the stomach stronger. You see, there aren't any Waffle Houses in Nevada. There may be none on the entire west coast but to be realistic, I'm really only concerned with the shortage in my immediate vicinity.

Fortunately for me the casino culture in Las Vegas brings many culinary venues into an area that would not normally support them and while this service has not extended to Waffle House or White Castle yet, we do have some adequate replacements. Enter, the Original Pancake House. Featured on FoodTV, this restaurant has all of your normal breakfast goodies and some extras that make the experience worthwhile.

The true specialty of The Original Pancake House is undoubtedly their oven baked dishes. They oven bake pancakes that fluff at the edges and become filled with fresh fruit. By some method that remains mysterious to me they also oven bake omelets and it was one of these that nearly did me in.

I had heard so much about these particular omelets that I decided to deviate from my normal pattern of always buying the same dish at any restaurant. I normally get the bacon waffle at The Original Pancake House. What could be better than a waffle with bacon in it? Such was the question I aimed to resolve, so I ordered the Irish Omelet, advertised as "4 farm fresh eggs oven baked with corned beef hash, onions and cheddar cheese. It sounded delightful and capable of satisfying my meaty desires. Just to be safe I also ordered a side plate of bacon.

After a lengthy wait, our cherubic waitress brought my plate, set it in front of me, and made no sign or word of warning about the dish's temperature. Now, I'm not normally the type of person to lay blame for the withholding of what should be obvious information, and I shall make no exception to that rule this time. In retrospect, that the food was hot should be clear to anyone who's IQ surpasses that of a wet bag of hammers. After all, my fluffy whipped egg dish had just spent fifteen or more minutes basking in the warmth of an oven and was then basted with melted cheese, a product known for its peculiar thermal properties. So, I shall not blame the service industry for my own, nearly fatal error.

In my own defense, I would like to say that I have frequently won chess matches against a wet bag of hammers. Additionally, my meal exhibited none of the traditional visual warning signs of heat. There was no steam and the cheese was not runny but rather appeared crusty and cold where it had once bubbled. I felt no excessive heat, either in the vicinity of the main course or from the plate itself upon which the eggs sat. With the ignorant bravery of a lemming proud to be the leader of the pack, I dug in with gusto and placed a largish portion of the omelet in my tender mouth.

Either I had mistakenly forked a hot coal or Lucifer himself had decided to sublet my palette. Fire had seemingly sprouted between my teeth and in that moment I realized several things within a matter of seconds. One, the baked and browned exterior of the omelet had become an extremely efficient insulator that could potentially revolutionize space vehicle re-entries. B, My mouth was swiftly blistering and I needed to do something fast. Four, I needed to get a smog check on my truck so that I could get the registration renewed. It's strange which memories float to the surface in moments of great suffering and alacrity.

Using the time honored method employed by every idiotic glutton, I maneuvered the offending piece of food with my tongue so that it rested upon my teeth, opened my mouth wide and drew in breath so as to cool the overheated food. Unfortunately for me, a largish piece of my partially chewed egg became detached from its brethren and aided by my desperate breaths, was drawn into my windpipe. I was choking.

With all the dignity of a chatty dentist my companion inquired of me, "What's wrong?" I of course, was unable to reply, but I made several hand gestures that would have won me nothing but cold stares in Pictionary. I continued to chew and choke. Tears filled my vision. Undaunted by my vague gesticulations, my companion continued her litany of interrogatives. "Do you not like it? Why aren't you chewing?" Her string of questions were only interrupted by her laughter, as I'm told I was quite comical by this point.

I suppose I could have simply spit out the bite of egg, and flaming hot cheese, but honestly it hadn't even occurred to me. One simply does not spit out food when in public. I may be many things, but spitting up perfectly good food is simply rude, even if it is killing you. Frequently, miracles have little explanation and this one was no exception. I was able to clear the choking egg without spitting it out, at the same time that the egg in my mouth had cooled enough to complete its mastication and swallow.

I was, understandably, short of breath and after a few sips from my water glass I explained my situation to the young lady laughing across the table from me. The danger had passed and I began to laugh myself, although I was troubled that I had not been privy to a review of my life. It's just as well, as I'm sure it would have distracted me from the very necessary task of preventing my death.

A short time later the waitress returned to refill my coffee and pleasantly inquired, "How is everything?"

My reply was curt, "I damn near died!"

"Okay," she smiled, "let me know if you need anything else."

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