1970 | Northern California

Hold the Chicken

Jack Nicholson orders an omelette.

[Bobby, Terry, Rayette, and Palm are seated at a booth in a roadside diner. The women have given their orders and a waitress stands above Bobby, waiting for his.]

Bobby: [looking at his menu] I’d like a plain omelette. No potatoes, tomatoes instead, a cup of coffee, and wheat toast.

[The waitress indicates something on the menu with the butt of her pencil.]

Waitress: No substitutions.

Bobby: What do you mean, you don’t have any tomatoes?

Waitress: [annoyed] Only what’s on the menu… [again, indicating with her pencil] You can have a number two, a plain omelette. It comes with cottage fries and rolls.

Bobby: Yeah I know what it comes with, but it’s not what I want.

Waitress: Well I’ll come back when you make up your mind…

[She starts to move away and Bobby detains her.]

Bobby: Wait a minute. I have made up my mind. I’d like a plain omelette, no potatoes on the plate, a cup of coffee and a side order of wheat toast.

Waitress: I’m sorry, we don’t have any side orders of toast. I can give you an English muffin or a coffee roll.

Bobby: What do you mean, you don’t make side orders of toast? You make sandwiches, don’t you?

Waitress: Would you like to talk to the manager?

Palm: Hey, mack!

Bobby: [to Palm] Shut up. [to the waitress] You’ve got bread, and a toaster of some kind?

Waitress: I don’t make the rules.

Illustration from Kate Greenaway’s Alphabet, 1885.

Illustration from Kate Greenaway’s Alphabet, 1885. 

Bobby: Okay, I’ll make it as easy for you as I can. I’d like an omelette, plain, and a chicken-salad sandwich on wheat toast—no mayonnaise, no butter, no lettuce—and a cup of coffee.

[She begins writing down his order, repeating it sarcastically.]

Waitress: A number two, chicken sal san—hold the butter, the lettuce, the mayonnaise—and a cup of coffee…anything else?

Bobby: Yeah, now all you have to do is hold the chicken, bring me the toast, gimme the check for the chicken-salad sandwich, and you haven’t broken any rules.

Waitress: [challenging him] You want me to hold the chicken, huh?

Bobby: I want you to hold it between your knees.

[The other three laugh, and the waitress points to a right to refuse sign above the counter.]

Waitress: You see that sign, sir?

[Bobby glances over at it, then back to her.]

Waitress: Yes, you all have to leave, I’m not taking any more of your smartness and your sarcasm!

[He smiles politely at her.]

Bobby: You see this sign?

[He reaches his arm out and “clears” the table for her.]

© 1970, renewed 1998 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. Used with permission of Columbia Pictures. All rights reserved.

About This Text

Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson, from Five Easy Pieces. Jack Nicholson played Bobby; Karen Black played Rayette; Lorna Thayer played the waitress. While driving with his girlfriend Rayette to his upper-class family home in Puget Sound, Bobby picks up a pair of hitchhiking lesbians, and they all stop at this roadside diner. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Black), Best Picture, and Best Writing.