Friday, March 13, 2009

All of life…

As I mentioned a couple days ago, today involved a trip to pick up soil, start trays for my soon-to-be new babies, and labels (so I can tell the plants apart). I had not eaten breakfast, and with coffee sloshing around in my empty belly, I thought I’d treat myself to an old-fashioned country breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs over hard and hash browns while on the road.

I found what looked to be a promising little place called Country Cabin right off of the highway. It was built to look like a log cabin, there were several cars in the parking lot, and the proprietors had resisted spelling the name of their business with Ks: all good signs that the food might be okay.

There are two menu items that I will always try when visiting a restaurant for the first time: barbecue baby back ribs, and biscuits and gravy. I am usually disappointed, and this time was no different. For the record, the best ribs I have ever had were the specialty at a little bbq shack called Witt’s in Murphysboro, Illinois. The best sauce ever, it was vinegar-based and had enough heat to make the top of one’s head sweat. The place burned down years ago, but many SIU alum, if they dared to venture into the African American part of town, will remember Old Man Witt and his trusty sidekick, Billy.

The best biscuits and gravy, aside from my own, could be found just down the road from Witts in Carbondale. Known simply by the owners name, Mary Lou’s was every lonely college student’s breakfast fix for a bit of no-nonsense mothering. I worked nights at the local hospital and many mornings found me and co-workers sitting at the counter filling our bellies with a heaping mound of biscuits smothered in a gravy that skimped neither on the milk, sausage or pepper.

So, I have these memories from my youth that guide me in these culinary quests. I today, once again I return to my youth… no, not really. At 54 years old, I was merely the youngest person in today’s eatery.

I don’t get out much, which I don’t really mind, content with my four walls and spending my day in close proximity with DW. Perhaps not surprisingly, when I do venture among other humans, I’m rather like the bumpkin visiting a big city for the first time, neck strained up to look at all of the tall buildings. I do a lot of listening in on conversations and gawking.

The fist voice I encountered when I walked in was that of a waitress. Very loudly and from twenty feet away she asked, “Just one honey? How about sitting over there?” Her register did not change when she asked for my order. And I so wished I had not left my camera out in the truck, for her make up was equally shrill, overdone as if she had prepared it for the stage. Evidently in an attempt to recapture her own youth, she had liberally applied both a pale foundation and the pinkest of blushes. The blush was of particular interest in that it was spread over the uppermost part of each cheek all the way to the lower eyelid. Very high cheekbones, indeed.

Having no other distraction such as a newspaper, as I sat waiting for my food, I took stock of other patrons. There was a man sharing with his friend the tragic news of his stage four prostate cancer. An elderly woman with several wounds on her face (from a fall would be my guess) was lamenting about a wayward daughter. A couple came in, the man with a walker and obviously suffering the effects of a recent substantial stroke. And shortly after their arrival, two women arrived, and one of them also had signs of paralysis from a stroke.

I wish I had some wise, or even witty words to follow. Instead, I can only say that I couldn’t finish my breakfast fast enough, and it wasn’t only because I was very hungry. You see, I hadn’t eaten breakfast before this because I had to have blood work. Cholesterol. And here I was having precisely the kind of meal that I reluctantly have to avoid. I was rebelling, denying the fact that I am not as young as I think I am, and the inevitability of what happens if I continue down such a path. It was playing out in front of me.

1 comment:

Crash said...

I do exactly the same thing after blood is drawn for my lipids. Eggs, cheese, the whole shebang. Don't know why, because my regular eating habits are not that way. Must be what you said.

Your vision of your future might be spookily accurate if you eat like those people did. I have seen it progress in my now-dead family. You might remember I am a long-term vegetarian. (Since you were 29 years old)
I have not been deprived. Eating has been more fun for me in those years, not less, quite a bit due to growers like you with your blue potatoes. A sinful meal now-and-then is ok. Daily habits are what count.

Anyway, I am not preaching vegetarianism. Eating LEAN meat, fish, poultry makes it easier to maintain health than the path I am on.

Just add to the lean meat the good produce you grow and use olive oil, not butter. Get your heart rate up a few times a week, get sunshine, control weight (a toughie.)

Maybe you don't even need that free advice. Your tests may show you are healthy as an ox. Free advice is worth what you pay for it, so maybe you should send me a few bucks.