Buffets and Memories
By Royal Hopper
My hand hovered over the bin containing the pink cubes of greasy mass produced sort of food stuff wondering what I should do.. . . Believe it or not breakfast buffets in Sin Coty can offer a plethora of difficult choices . . . Spam or turkey _ salad or fried chicken. ..
On one hand I remembered those hazy days of childhood when my mother somehow made a tasty stir fry with left over rice and a can of the pink sort of food stuff because back then it was cheap . . . Because down south back then _ like beans and rice and cheap beef and onions that you boiled in gravy for four hours, like corn bread and butter or fried chicken and mashed potatoes and thick greasy gravy it was Po’ folks or in my parents case broke folks food it was cheap and it literally melt in your mouth biscuits and gravy good.
On the other I reminded myself I was an educated man and knew just how unhealthy this pink cubed meat was.. And how I was getting to old for southern comfort food.
On one hand as I approached the fried chicken section of the buffet I remembered the day I came home from the Army for a visit and my Mama (that is the way we say it in the south) fixed me ( and yes that is how we say it down south) fried Chicken and brown chicken gravy and niblet corn with generous helpings of butter. ( my mother was unique for those days because she actually used margarine made from soy bean and corn oil on occasion. I remember with incredible clarity ..like it was literally yesterday instead of 29 years ago how finger licking artery hardening good it was. I can see the smile on my mothers face and how good it made me feel as I momentarily forgot the southern manners I had been taught as a child and the serious deportment I learned in the Army and scarfed down that wonderful tasting unhealthy ambrosia. For a moment as I stared at that chicken I was lost in that memory. It was 1986 and I was a thin good looking infantry soldier in a peace time army in my late 20s and the future was endless. It was a beautiful rose colored memory.
Then I remembered the guy at who had a heart attack in his 40s because he just wouldn’t stop eating those wonderfully tasty unhealthy food and I remember all the things I have read about cholesterol and fat and white carbs and how bad they are for you.
In the end memory and taste won out and I surreptitiously scooped the pink cubes onto my plate like an addict an alcoholic shoveling bottles of Jim beam onto his plate and didn’t want anyone to see.
I picked through the salad and roast turkey and scrambled eggs on my plate and finally worked up the courage to confront the pink cubes shoveling two of them into my mouth and finding them _ . . . . . ordinary. The I actually took a bite of the buffet fried chicken and found it to be _ well _ awful. Perhaps I had expected to much but being raised on the best fried chicken in Southeast Texas I just could not eat this lesser chicken. It tasted pedestrian _ ordinary. The chicken was awful _ man _ not even in the same area code as my mother’s famous Mama Fried Chicken. . .
To much time had passed and the mass produced work of strangers never adds up to the carefully laid labors of those we love and who love us. It just isn’t possible.
Memories of marvelous days are just that marvelous memories and best left there in the memory or in pleasant day dreams.
Life is like that .some ideas ..some memories however wonderful are best left in the past like the swimming pool you u` se twice a year when company comes over. .. To be bathed in from time to time in moments of pleasant nostalgia and then left in the past where they belong. Spam and fried chicken are not ambrosia they are just food and the good old days are long gone . . Let them go . .
Driving home. . . Signs carried by street sign holders say Jesus Loves You .. And another says Hungry help. . One man stumbles onto a road lost and at another intersection. A man stands in the middle of the road dancing to ancient disco tunes holding a vintage boom box on his shoulder and glow in the dark dance clothes. He is not asking for money. He is a Sin City drama queen enjoying the spotlight on a busy Vegas intersection as commuters watch and consider running him over.
Later man Love you guys