"I worked at a small-town diner for a few years in my early 20s. We had a lot of weird regulars, but this one lady stands out.
"My co-worker and I noticed when she and her husband started coming in because they were new people, and also a good 30 years younger than the median age of our regular clientele. Turned out they were new in town, and my co-worker -- always better at small talk than me -- developed a bit of a rapport. Her husband ordered his food pretty straight-up, no modifications or special requests or anything; eggs and sausage, if I remember correctly. She always got two pancakes, lightly done.
"For the first month or so, this is good enough, until one day, when the rotation assigns their table to me. They place their standard orders and I bring them their food. Her pancakes are nice and light, tinted just enough to show that they've been cooked.
"I check on them after a few minutes, and while her husband is digging in, her pancakes are barely touched. 'Everything OK over here?' I ask.
"'I'm great,' the husband assures me. But the wife looks at me a little sadly.
"'These pancakes are too well-done,' she informs me apologetically.
"'Oh, I'm sorry about that. I'll have the cook remake them,' I offer, and she's happy to let me send back her food.
"Being a weekend morning, it's a little busy, so the cook on for the day -- a middle-aged ex-Marine gone to seed with more hair on his shoulders than on his head -- is a little grumpy to see me bringing back a plate. I set it on the food window and inform him that they are too well-done for the lady.
"He looks at the beige pancakes, waits a beat for the joke, but then barely suppresses an eye-roll and begins to remake them. In a few short moments, he sends up another plate of pancakes, these the same color as the batter.
"I bring the pancakes to the lady and hand them back. She thanks me excitedly and begins to dig in.
"I check my other tables. When I circle back around, I see that, again, her pancakes are basically untouched.
"I know I must've looked surprised, because she was pretty apologetic again. 'They're still too well-done,' she tells me.
"I'm beginning to get a little annoyed because I don't think we've ever served a lighter plate of pancakes, but I apologize again and send them back to the cook, whose eye starts twitching as soon as I set down the plate. 'They're still too dark.'
"He picks up a pancake and slaps it back down. 'Tell her if they're any lighter, they'll be raw in the middle,' he growls in exasperation.
"I head back to the table and tell her, 'The cook says that's as light as he can make them. They're only barely cooked through, and if they're any lighter, they'll be raw in the middle.'
"Her eyes light up. 'Can he do that for me?'
"'Uh. I'll be right back.'
"The cook is looking at me expectantly when I come back, and I tell him, a little unnerved, 'She wants them raw in the middle.'
"He stares at me. 'Raw?'
"'Raw,' I confirm.
"He blinks, shrugs, and less than a minute later, there are two pancakes, barely solid, on a plate for her. She devours the goop happily while her husband, who had already finished his food, watches fondly, shaking his head a little at her strangeness.
"After that, it was a matter of seeing how raw the cooks could make them every time she came in. We'd send back her order with 'RAW' in all caps and underlined. She was thrilled, her husband just laughed at her, and we servers tried to keep from throwing up in our mouths as we watched. But hey, at least she was nice." [Editor’s Note: Well, fair’s fair -- pancake batter does always taste better than the disappointment of actual pancakes, which are bad.] -- Melanie Korver