Is it “farewell” or just “later” for the Waffle House T-bone?

Goodbye T-bone.

One who knows me might think I was bidding final farewell to some ol’ high school buddy or one of any number of colorful characters I have come to know and/or befriend over the years. But no, I’m talking about steak. Or maybe not.

No, I am definitely talking about T-bone steak but my adieu might be a bit premature.

I speak of the madness of the Waffle House and its 2012 T-Bone Farewell Tour. The late-night choice of weary travelers and local drunks everywhere announced in January that their vaunted 10-ounce T-bone steak will be going away after a year-long farewell.

 “It has been a good run, this may be the final year for the Waffle House T-bone,” says Pat Warner, Waffle House vice president of marketing. “Say goodbye to an old friend and order one today, while you still can.”

But maybe you still can after you do your adioses.

 “We want to hear our customers’ reactions,” says Warner. “It may be that we will have multiple farewell tours; like a classic rock band.”

Ah, clever. Always leave yourself an out.

 “The T-bone steak debuted on the Waffle House menu in the early 1960s when a “Grill Man” at the first Waffle House restaurant in Avondale Estates, Ga., ran out of steak one night and replaced them with T-bone steaks he bought at a local grocery store. They have been on the menu ever since. It became a customer favorite, and now Waffle House is the world’s leading server of USDA Choice T-bone steaks,” according to a company news release.

The Wafflers are encouraging their customers to relive their favorite 10-ounce T-bone memories on Facebook, to which my first would be “Urrrrrrrrp!,” as in belch. I had a steak and egg last night at Waffle House. This was because it is right across the I-10 underpass from where I am staying. I stopped and looked at a young possum up close on the way back. It was playing possum then bared its teeth at me. Possum aside, I am trying to do some protein dieting but like everything else in my life, it seems to have jumped off the rails. I didn’t have a T-bone though.

I do have some T-bone memories at Waffle House though. Those times usually involved carousing or its aftermath.

Last night I watched the cook work his magic with the grill and the little pans. It takes no little amount of skill and coordination to turn out the meals when the place gets busy after the bars close. The waitress conveys the customer’s order to the cook in a language only the two of them know. “Two down, two up, medium well, grits on a stick.” No, I just made the grits on a stick up. But they ought to do that. Grits on a stick would be ten kinds of entertaining.

We all know that most chain restaurants and fast food places generally suck. Maybe it’s the good times I’ve had at Waffle Houses over the years — singing with Mexican sailors at 1 a.m. or pulling in for a cup of coffee at mid-afternoon to keep my friend, a waitress, Chris, company during slow periods. These are memories of 30 years or more of good times. But through it all most of the Waffle House folks have been and are salt of the earth that keep food consistently tasty over the years.

So if the ‘House is playing coy with its T-bone, so be it. They’ve been selling it for a dollar an ounce over the past few  years. That’s substantially less than what you pay in the supermarket and it’s cooked the way you want it. Goodbye T-bone? No, maybe just “Later.”