Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.
When was the
first time when you saw "that" food item that took your heart faster than Haley's Comet? I have to tell you that this event happened to me at age 16, and when you read the commentary that is to follow, I know that you will feel the same thing about "the" food that took your heart away. Thanks, Kenneth.
From the Time
that I was born until the age of 12, I was not much of a healthy eater. My parents would have paid hard-earned cash for me to be "an" eater. Let's be real honest. By now and what you have read, you have arrived at the conclusion that I was a weird kid. Well, that is half right. I was a kid. But very active. I ran and played in my front yard every chance I got. Right now I am thinking back to those youthful days and now I feel very sad that I didn't do more running when the years started catching up with me.
Both of my parents worked hard. My dad was the son of a farmer like his dad and when the small farm was swallowed by the huge Agri-Food Businesses, the day of the Little Farmer was over. But my dad never gave up. He became a sharecropper and kept that farming gene alive. My mom took care of me and our house--and to make ends meet and me starting school, she took a public job along with my dad. It was a sad few weeks to see them pushed into areas where they didn't belong. It was years before that I figured it out: "I" was the reason both of my parents got jobs. Just to keep the bills paid and keep me in school.
I would have been more than glad to quit. I hated school from my first day until I graduated in May of 1972. But this is all more or less, the background of my main plot: what food stole my heart and why? So I will continue with that thought.
There is always "that" invisible force that is either kind or harsh with you. Not a game of Middle Man. The force, Father Time. He is always about somewhere. In my boyhood I was faster than he was when we would race. When I got off of my school bus, I would race Father Time to our rented house and I always won. FT was a good sport. I won most of the time for he let me win.
But when Father Time and the Calendar started teaming-up on me, I began to see things differently. No longer did the girls around me seem so ugly and hard to talk to. Oh, I loved to aggravate them and they would pester me--that was life, right? Father Time and the Calendar started taking me into a different arena: dating. I hated it at first. But with practice and self-confidence, I begun to enjoy asking the girls out for a movie and maybe a burger. And with every outing, "that" food that I had fell for, was haunting me, so to speak.
And make no mistake. "The" food that I am talking about and will as long as God keeps the breathe in me, is my Mom's Cat Head Biscuits. Do you know anything about these most-praised-of-Southern-food-items? No? Does any of your senior relatives know anything about Cat Head Biscuits? Oh, I see. You had rather eat those biscuits from a can that you have to pop to get to that dough. I have no problem with "this" brand of biscuits. I like everything about them--with the exception of one thing: I can open a few thousand cans of these manufactured biscuits one-after-the other in my kitchen and NEVER see my sainted mother standing near her table humming an old Southern hymn while making her Cat Head biscuits.
When my mother made her biscuits, she instantly went to a world all by herself. And why shouldn't she? No one in our family made or knew how to make her Cat Head Biscuits. Now my dad who was in the Army during WWII, served as a cook to help out a company in his regiment and he could cook as good as my mom, but try as he did, he could not match her Cat Head Biscuit making. There were no quarrels of competitive biscuit-cooking. Both parents made great biscuits, but only my mom could make her Cat Head Biscuits.
Let me tie this all up with a few closing thoughts that really say what my topic is about. I told you about my boyhood days and running like the wind. I told you about Father Time and the Calendar teaming up on me slowing me down and teaching me to look with different eyes at age 16. But there was "that" one sad Friday night that my time in our hometown, (five minutes away), was cut short. I had been dating this girl and she was a gorgeous creation of female flesh. I always thought in my heart that she was only dating me because she made a bet with someone . . .and LOST!
But as dating goes, it was time for this gorgeous girl and me to part. I felt that something was wrong for the longest time, but even with me asking her frequently what's wrong, she wouldn't answer. Just smile, giggle and kiss me. And for the rest of our date(s) it was mostly me walking on thin ice--choosing the right phrase and word as to not make (whatever was wrong) worse. I worried so much about what she was feeling and went to bed many times and never slept.
As "that" fateful night of our break-up, she never used profanity or harsh words to express how much she loved and cared for me, but she wanted to "experience more of life than just graduate college and work until retirement," as she put it so eloquently. And somehow I wasn't sad. I guess that can be attributed to maturity that came from the Dynamic Duo: Father Time and the Calendar.
So the drive home was needless to say, sad and short. But as I went around the last curve before I reached home, I saw our kitchen light on. Must be my dad, I thought. He was an early-to-bed, early-to-riser and I thought that he must be up here at 9:30 pm. to smoke a cigarette or drink some coffee. Either for him would be a normal thing. But not with my mother. She would go to bed and sleep right until 6 am. the next morning.
When I parked our car in the garage and walked into the kitchen, there she was, mama in her own colorful world humming "Sweet Hour of Prayer," and never looking up from her work. She was up to something. I sensed that by her demeanor for her hands and fingers worked with the speed of lightning--never missing a beat. Amazing.
"Momma, what are you doing up?" I asked, being naturally curious.
"Oh, making some biscuits. Want some?" she asked pointing to another plate of those big, sweet, and very delicious Cat Head Biscuits.
"Momma, why are you making your biscuits here at almost 10 at night on a Friday?" I asked.
"Couldn't sleep. So I decided to make use of my time," spoken by the backbone of our family.
So I didn't argue with my mom. I went for those first biscuits with a vengeance. I sat at our kitchen table eating cold biscuits with a slice of Videlia onion and this was like an angel of God sending Manna to Elijah when he was hiding from Jezebel. I think that I ate three of her huge biscuits and she sat down and drank a cup of coffee while her second bath was baking.
"want to talk about it?" she said with such clarity that I broke down and cried like a kid. And me here at 16, driving a car, dating girls, I was a man, I thought.
"well, momma, uhhh, you know, . . ." my emotions closed my throat and I ceased talking.
"yes, I know her. Sorry, Kenny. So sorry, but hey, you are very young, still got that kiddish twinkle in those pretty eyes. Someone will see herself in those eyes one day and you will take her for a wife. I know this will happen. Want another biscuit? I got more!" momma said after building up who I thought that "I" was a torn down shack be lifted up to life again. And in one respect, she was.
I have always wondered what ingredient that momma used in her tasty Cat Head Biscuits. I should have asked, but didn't seem needful. Why tamper with something perfect? And how did my mother know that the prettiest girl in our area had said good-bye to me that night, without telling her one word about it?
Hate to sound corny, but all momma's are special. They have to be. And I do not know how that they know so much without proper lectures from degree'd professors. I really don't know. Was it her Cat Head Biscuits? Or was it her sensitivity for others? Or both who helped me that once-sad Friday night at her kitchen table?
I guess that you think that I'm bragging. You are so right.
© 2018 Kenneth Avery