Saturday, July 25, 2009

Grilled Cheese and Shake

(As is often the case, the art/photo has nothing to do with today's posting, really, but I like the mood it conveys, and thought I'd share it)

It took me a long time to get through college, and it wasn't because I was a slow learner.

I didn't have any money. That, of course, delayed the start.

Even after a bit of military service, I still didn't have any money to speak of. But that's another story.

Let's just say I was finally in college ... and on a budget.

Oh, I had a place to sleep, a rented room, and I had a couple of places where I could grab a bite to eat at a reasonable price. The fact that I was a breakfast skipper helped the bottom line, too.

I fell into the habit of eating at those few chosen places regularly, and the people on the other side of the counter soon knew what I'd have, even before I announced it.

Ah, those were the days.

In the poem, of course, I've changed the names ... to protect the innocent, as they say ... even the name of this one particular place bears no resemblance to its actual name.

The rest of it is true ... quite true, as a matter of fact. The name of the bread? That was its real name. Honest!

The poem:


Betty knew her customers

down at the Lunch Box

Cafe, where conversations

slid to the back burner

when hulking trains

came lurching past.

I'd walk in, starved,

as skinny as a snake,

and she’d toss two slices

of buttered Bunny Bread

and a thin slice of cheese

into the smoke rising

from the grill, power up

a blender, add a squirt

of strawberry flavoring

to a prospective shake.

I'd straddle my favorite

wobbly stool, sit savoring

the smoke, anticipating

that last surreptitious slurp,

its sweet, sticky essence,

sit watching Betty at work,

marveling at her memory,

how cool she was when

the orders piled up,

how she knew when to turn

the sandwiches, snatching

them back from disaster,

wondering if she knew how

those skinny sandwiches

and thick, frothy shakes

were snatching me back, too.

© 2001

(originally published in A New Song)

Today's word: frothy
Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments ...
Thank you, Hannah, for yet another electronic pat on the back. I appreciate them all, and I apologize for being so lax abount responding. I'll try to do better.