When the Dam Bursts

Wampach’s is a little diner in downtown Shakopee that’s been here since the 50s. It’s very similar to my parents’ little diner 10 miles down the road near downtown Savage.

I have very distinct memories of having breakfast at Wampach’s with my Grandpa and Grammu when I was a kid. One time we had breakfast, and afterward my Aunt Cathy got to buy a pair of red-swooshed Nike’s at Valley Sports and my Grandpa said we had to walk home since he’d paid a ridiculous sum of money for those shoes.

My parents eat at there quite a bit. This always puzzles me, because it’s exactly like their restaurant, but ten miles away. And after working all day at a very similar restaurant, wouldn’t you be sick of it? But my sister theorizes that it’s more than just a place to eat dinner for them, it’s where they socialize, which makes sense. If you ever want to meet a sizable portion of my family, you only need go to Wampach’s on a Saturday at 6:30. Aunts, Uncles, parents, occasionally a nephew or a sister. They’re all there.

I don’t join them that often, because I’m an Angry Hermit and it can be a lot.

However, they had a rare Thursday outing this week and I did join them for dinner as the sun set.

I’ve had a rough few weeks in a row. Wednesday was especially tough. I spent three hours on FaceTime with a barely consolable Sister #2 who is also having a rough few weeks. I didn’t eat lunch or breakfast because I was talking to my sister and when I hung up from her I found the email that said for the third year in a row the MN State Arts Board found my writing unworthy of funding, however two member of my Black Sheep writing group were worthy. And thus I spent the rest of the day being weepy and sad.

As you know, I haven’t written a single fucking thing since August. Nothing. I’ve barely found the mental and emotional space to type words here. So I’m already feeling like a total fraud. And I haven’t heard bupkis from the potential agent since I sent my manuscript back in August. And then the Arts’ Board rejection. It was bad. I spent part of the night whining to the Black Sheep, which is something I should have done a month ago because it made me feel so much better.

And then Thursday, my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Wampach’s for dinner with my dad and Uncle Danny. My dad was going to dinner. I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

I hadn’t seen my dad since October 16th, before his surgery. And there was a weekend where I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to see him again. However, he’s a tough old bastard and he’s been discharged to a local nursing home to do some rehab on his right side, weakness caused by the stroke.

But there he was sitting at a table in Wampach’s on Thursday night and I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to see someone. And then I got to eat a turkey club and whine to my parents about not getting the stupid arts grant which of course they think is total bullshit because I’m the best writer they know, which is funny because the last think they’ve read of mine was probably “Banishment to Banished Mountain Where the Banishing Happens”, a story I wrote in fourth grade after I learned the word “banish.”

This is a long way to say, I got to see my dad and I feel much better now. Like a burden lifted from my shoulders. Also, the club sandwiches at Wampach’s are aces. And they have tator tots. My mom was appalled that I had French fries with my sandwich and not tator tots. My love of tator tots is well-known throughout the land. I’m pretty proud of that.

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