It’s never a good sign when the server behind a hot-food counter frowns and says this about something you want to buy: “We sell a lot of it, but I don’t eat it.”
For most people it would mean, “Stop, don’t think of eating that. Give more thought to buying almost anything else. But not that.”
That happened Sunday. The rest of the story and what led up to it is what is important.
Saturday was a great day for my wife and I because we met with some longtime friends for the second consecutive weekend. The pandemic had separated us for more than a year.
And now here we were together on a sprawling farm in the quaint community of Ethel, a little ways north of Zachary, in East Feliciana Parish. A week earlier they had been at our house.
Hey, don’t worry. We all have had our COVID-19 vaccinations. It was the price of admission.
It was good to see them. Once there were eight of us. Now, there are five. But, that’s how life works and we embrace it. We reminisce and even joke about those who are absent. It’s great to have good memories. We enjoyed the normalcy; COVID-19 be damned.
Once we talked about our wives, then our children and now our grandchildren. Yes, it’s been that long.
It is interesting to note that we are not the same race. Importantly, we are not afraid to discuss race, politics or anything else. I think our varied life experiences, and understanding of each other, is what has made this friendship endure. Heck, we spent six days in Alaska and Canada together a couple years ago. That’s us.
There is no wavering on the idea that the vaccine and masks are good ideas that can save lives. It was a major part of our conversations during both visits. Heck, we want this wall created by the pandemic to come down and we want others to join.
We are getting older and slower, but we know we want to meet many more times in the future. Hopefully then COVID-19 and its devastating damage won’t be an integral part of our conversations.
Now, back to that earlier situation with the hot food. On Saturday, I stopped at a store at the crossroads of La. 19 and La. 10 in Ethel to get some gas. After filling up and paying at the pump with a credit card we took off.
However, I discovered that night my credit card was lost. Search as might, I couldn’t find it. Sunday morning I called the two places I had been. The second call hit the jackpot. “Yes, we got it,” said the woman at the gas station.
Well, back to Ethel I go on a pleasant, long drive through the snaking La. 19. At least the scenery was good. And, I thought, who was the honest person that brought my card into the store?
I go into the store and announce myself. The cashier smiles and hands me the card. Because I felt good and she was so nice, I felt I needed to purchase something. There was a smell of something great pulling me to the back of the store.
Sure enough, there were breakfast foods and fried things displayed in the window. A triangular item got my attention so I asked the server what it was. “It’s fried pizza,” she said, to my amazement.
That’s when she made her pronouncement that she didn’t eat it.
With that, I bought it. A few minutes later I bit into it. I took a second and third bite. I could feel the pending damage of 2,500 calories, 300 carbs and 190 grams of fat racing through my body. I put it down. Actually, I was afraid.
Yet, it was a great ending to a wonderful weekend with my friends. I really missed them and their company and our glorious reminders of earlier times and the hope to gather again soon.
And the next time I’m in Ethel, I think I’ll buy two slices of that fried heaven.
Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman, at email@example.com.