Volume 1, Issue 1
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Ode to Vanessa

Salmon Patty Fiasco


   
Articles and Editorials - The Salmon Patty Fiasco
By Johnny Betts

BBQ. Hamburgers. Hot dogs. Homemade ice cream. Just a few of the things that spring to mind when you quietly ponder what the 4th of July meal will consist of.

Uncle Allen could never quite keep the bbq sauce out of his mustache. And who couldn't help but laugh when grandma would eat that homemade ice cream just a little too fast? The contortion of her face as she fought the headache was enough to teach us young 'uns a lesson. Memories of a time that once was, but hopes of the tomorrows that would presumably come.

July 4, 2000. Stephanie and I decided to spend this special occasion with my family. Mom doesn't always like my sometimes hectic schedule. Not every holiday can be spent at home, but we had the chance this time so we thought we'd make the most of it.

Stephanie's an excellent cook; she could've made me the perfect meal. Images of ribs and hamburgers danced in my head. But hey, my family would be glad to see us; they'd probably go out of their way to make it all special. A time of fun, food, family, and fellowship, it was worth it.

Supper was usually served in the afternoon in those moist-eyed days of my youth. If you were hungry, you didn't worry because you knew the food would soon arrive. But this year, well, 7:00 rolled around and no food was in sight. "When in the world will we eat?" I thought. I had starved myself all day in anticipation of the feast that was sure to come. One thing lead to Tina Yothers and it was 8:00 and there was still no food.

That's when I saw it. A can of salmon on the counter. "Nah, it can't be," I thought to myself, "She's probably throwing it away." I knew life couldn't be that cruel. I knew not even my mom (the same mom who CRUELLY refused to buy me a pet rock in the 6th grade) would stoop that low. If it were only so simple. To make a short story longer, the "food" was ready about 8:30.

I looked down at the stove and what did I see? Mushy pinto beans. Dark green mushy spinach. Salmon patties. If my mom had asked me what I did NOT want for a meal, those three dishes would've been included. My heart sunk. I looked over the fence and saw kids laughing, kids dancing, kids with their little bbq-stained faces having the time of their lives.

I was taken back to my younger days. Those carefree days of Hot Wheels and G.I. Joe. The days when mom's hamburgers were a meal for a king. The days when no meal was complete until fresh dessert was served. As I reflected back on those days everything seemed to go in slow motion. For some reason still unknown to me, Springsteen's "Secret Garden" played in the recesses of my mind:

SHE'S GOT A SECRET GARDEN...WITH EVERYTHING YOU NEED....EVERYTHING SOMETHING SOMETHING....A MILL.....ION....MILES....A.....WAAAAAAAY!!!11

As reality crept back into the picture I realized that though my youth was but a memory now, it did not have to be let go. You have to learn to grab a hold of those things that are most dear to you or you risk losing them forever. I didn't want to lose the memories of grandpa's dentures sticking in the corn on the cob. The memories of cousin Christy stealing the last hot dog. The memories of shooting bottle rockets at her as payback. I didn't want to forget the joy of clotheslining my sister so that I could be first in line for homemade ice cream.

No, some things have to be resisted today so that we don't let go of yesterday. So I quietly stepped back from the stove, took Stephanie by the hand and said, "Babe, I've taken all I can, pack up the car, we're heading to Sonic."
Copyright 2002 Madlib Productions, All Rights Reserved

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