Sunday, March 30, 2014

fork tender feelings

Tender Assertions, Archetypal Intimations

3/ 4/ 14

There’s a tasty little “southern experience” in the Birmingham area-- Dale’s Southern Grill.  Having worked at Cracker Barrel for five years, I was not particularly impressed at first; but it was very near home when home was very near my parents, two miles and upstairs respectively, and it had become my mother’s go-to joint. She only eats veggies and fish (cause they don’t have any feelings, I think it’s something in the way.  .  .), she went for the cabbage, stayed for the salmon, and went back for the carrot soufflé. I went to be polite, stayed for the pork chops (cause I don’t have any feelings), and went back for the bran muffins. And back for the free meal . . . and quality time with mom.

And I went back to Dale’s last week, my wife subbing nicely as supper companion she too for the veggies but not for the fish (cause, with no further sentiment necessary, fish grosses her out). I was determined to try something new, protein-wise. I wandered off the grill menu and strayed to comfort foods. I decided to try the meatloaf and so naturally I ordered the pot roast when our server re-arrived to re-inquire— me, the very picture of resolve. I think what clinched the flip-flop at the moment of crisis was the “fork-tender” claim. A juicy portion of meatloaf stands a good chance of leaving the kitchen as a crusty brick divvied from a mortar of ketchup.  Age crusts all eventually. But fork-tender withstands the hardenings of time, becomes more tender in spite of it. Age will sponge all in due course but in such cases it will have to dole and dole and dole from deep-welled crockery of irreducible gravy.

It is one thing to belabor a metaphor and quite another to double back and highlight the fact. Beat the horse then confess to PETA (cause they have all the feelings).

Anyway, it's like I've been saying . . . Ouroboros. The serpent eating its own tail. A ubiquitous yet diversely depicted image seen across cultures and through millenniums symbolizing eternal recursion. The snake swallows itself for all time. This could represent infinite surety, safety and/ or protection, and just as easily infinite jeopardy, peril, and/ or vulnerability--thus ubiquitous yet diversely depicted.

So . . . Ouroboros. I opened my mouth to order my food in the moment of crisis, the impromptu entree flip-flop affecting my nerves, my nerves affecting my recently much-improved ability to speak. I faltered, lost confidence and voice. Our server leaned-in, offering her ear. "What's that, hon?"

In turn, I leaned-in, widening my mouth with "pot roast" defying utterance somewhere in the back.

One more cock of the neck nearer and she said, "I'm sorry, I'm hard of hearing anymore." A polite, professional save but ringing true as well.

Another slight lean into her then I unhinged my jaws and swallowed her head (voice muting ear), head which I have been choking down my gullet ever since and ever will--an un-gravied brick. If only I had stuck with meatloaf, I would never have been compelled to say, "That's OK, I'm hard of speaking anymore."

But neigh, neigh, neigh . . . Ouroboros.

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