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I JUST DONATED A SPECIAL MOMENT TO YOU. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Long long ago in a neighborhood not so far thataway…
I am slumped over my plate at a diner or a cafe or an eatery or a bar stool counter or, you know, one of those special family places…and I am sopping and munching and slurping—because this is the kind of kitchen that allows me to be decades younger and somewhat noisy while at the same moment, polite and friendly.
My Mama would not have had it any other way, as long as I mind my manners.
The fragrances float about me so that, even with my eyes closed to the menu and the tableware, I can still tell you what’s cooking, what’s fresh, what’s leftover, what’s everybody’s favorite.
It’s an Alabama diner, so everything is familiar and predictable and delightfully surprising all at once.
There’s meatloaf and fried chicken and crusted catfish surrounded by real mashed potatoes and gravy, pickled beets, blackeyed peas, fried okra and boiled okra and okrafied tomatoes and corn muffins and cole slaw and iceberg lettuce parts and dressings and catsup and salt and pepper and pepper sauce and steak sauce and butterbeans and dumplings and mushy slow-cooked greens and lots, lots more.
Guaranteed to kill you prematurely, but with a big, safisfied smile on your face and an extra notch on your belt.
The cashier over yonder is totallng up a big order with a pencil before she enters it into the register. She is licking the just-applied chapstick coating from her lips.
A customer walks in from the encroaching outdoor heat, fanning her hand in front of her face as if to indicate that she’s being cooled off. The cashier taking more orders has a momentary break and is again laving lip balm onto her mouth while another woman is sitting there, having just ordered…and is overwhelmed by the fragrances just described.
“Ooh man, this place smells way too good,” I say. “Think I’ll dab a bit of sauce behind each ear and go out into the world.”
She grins at me and at a guy whose t-shirt reads, “Parental discretion…contents something something…”
I prepare to settle my tab and sally forth into the heat. The cashier licks at the balm a bit more. Life is complete for a few seconds.
There, I just donated a moment to you.