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
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
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
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
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."