The Drive There . . . But First, the Arrival
6/ 4/ 14
I took my show on the road last week. Three nieces awaited my arrival with what I take to be in retrospect the last of their bated breaths. They're a vociferous trio, these, but more delightfully distinct personalities among sisters you'd be unlikely to find.
The youngest feigns shyness until she's certain I'm a decent enough uncle. Meanwhile, she hides behind my big brother's leg like one being sought in a child's game, unwittingly unconcealed. When she's certain that I'm an uncle to be trusted with her imagination, she tests my worthiness with an over-the-shoulder anecdote. I prove myself with silence, an adult with all ears. Then she unfurls her saga. One that involves a boyfriend and a boyfriend and a boyfriend.
The next niece I will not call a "middle child". In general, it's a disrespectful phrase; and in her case, it's a porous encapsulation. Her "middleness", if anything, is an enviable "otherness". Her mind does not seem to be distressed by "lonesomeness" but seems to relish being left alone in hiatus-- a sibling ready to play on the trampoline, a little girl just as ready to disappear. Where she goes when she goes, I don't know, but I'd like to tiptoe behind; I'd bet it's a wondrous place with kites of purple chiffon riding silver drafts; I'd bet it’s a terrifying place circled and swooped upon by impatient condors.
The oldest is tall.
Which is to say nothing of her personality.
Unless to note how she occasionally climbs into the sapling boughs of herself to observe in her sisters the shortness she's been molting all the while. Except to mention the way in which she still looks up to find candy on on top of the refrigerator but now must learn to look down to find scraps of treasure on an ever-receding floor.
Or to say, she is broaching her beauty on the awkward side of grace.
These kids have parents.
A mother whose beauty is a brooch worn meekly on the other side of the jacket she wears to teach other mother's children, an emblem of kindness and patience. Their mother is my sister-in-law by whose friendship I've been graced even before serendipity steered her my brother's way. She let me help cook despite my being more suited to eat; more satisfyingly still, she let me retain my status of glad dish doer despite my being more apt as dish breaker.
A father breaching his beauty on the could-not-give-a-spoonful-of- oatmeal side of gray. The good side, reader. Not the Just For Men side. Their father is my brother of the nick-of-time branch that time I was swinging like a horse thief from a rope swing over a gulch of jagged train track ballast and teen-tossed bottles.
My brother of the time he met my wife and I that time in Memphis . . . last week to make the exchange. My corporeal being for a week without bedmate snoring. Don't believe her if says she didn't make the trade underwritten by enthusiasm. All other possibilities aside, she was reluctant to agree to the trip, what with me being fresh off a round of chemo and a face acquaintance with a bathroom sink. Notwithstanding recent events the drop-off/ pick-up was made in Memphis. Actually, in agreement of one of terms of the trip, the traditional rendezvous was rerouted to circumnavigate the perennial construction constrictions of I-40/ I-55. And to eat at Fuddruckers, naturally, a collective hour out of
the way according to Google Maps and in accord with my inability to comprehend the caprice Google Maps, let's call it a buck-thirty.
Now With Shakespearean Gristle to Beef Things Up
6/ 5/ 14
Why such a travel-time-busting locale? Reader, do you enjoy burgers? Prize deliciousness? Have you ever been to a Fuddruckers? If no then to this hamburgery go, and quickly too. Farewell.
Let's the Rest [sing] Hey non nonny nonny, hey nonny, ask needless questions, expect needless answers.
If still nonplussed and/ or now offended, let me try a different angle.
There was a time my brother and I worked at the Fuddruckers in Birmingham. He in the kitchen helping me flip meats and shake Buffalo wings and expedite orders when slammed, me on the floor helping him run food and buss tables and sweep stations when in the weeds. We joining forces at closing time against the inch-deep grease under the grills and the filthy-shoe marred and tarred white tiles in the dining room. We expertly constructing our signature burgers and rendezvousing on the patio under the awning sweating in full view of disillusioned guests and disappointed managers. Break-time considerations and an ill-advised location for me and my brother even way back when.
There's proprietary mustard, that's for remembrance. Pray you, love,
remember. And there is a fixins bar, that's for thoughts.
Why? Reminiscence and nostalgia, Reading Friends.
And so, an hour and fifteen minutes (on average) south of Memphis, TN, my brother from Mountainburg, AR and I (and my wife in reluctant cahoots) from Alabaster, AL, meet in Southhaven, MS to eat at a restaurant stashed away in the corner of a sketchy Harrah's Casino, itself stashed away just beyond the babiest babbling inlet of the Mighty Mississip'.