This is why it’s so hard for me to get things done.
I took a short walk this morning. I try to take a walk every day, even if it’s just a short stroll to the local Stop & Rob for a cookie. Round trip, a walk to the S&R is about 1.75 miles. If I’m not interrupted, it takes me maybe forty minutes to get there, buy my cookie, return home, and re-park my ass in front of the computer.
But I’m always interrupted. Always. Almost. This morning I walked by an old couple (I call them old but they’re probably not all that much older than I am, really) sitting in lawn chairs inside their garage. “Hot,” the old guy called out. And he was right, it was already closing in on 90F. Anyway I stopped and chatted with them for a bit. He was a retired something-or-other in some insurance-related business; she never said what she did. We chatted about the weather for a bit. They seemed nice, and they clearly liked each other, and that was that. On I went.
After I’d gone thirty yards or so I thought “I should have taken their photograph.” Opportunity lost, right there.
At the S&R I bought a frosted sugar cookie, put it in a bag to tote home, and headed out. I was only a few steps out the door when this guy says “Excuse me,” so of course I stopped. He wanted to know how to get to Oskaloosa — which, believe it or not, is an actual name of an actual town. I knew the name of the town, but didn’t have a clue where it was. But I had my phone, so it only took a moment to call up a map and get directions.
He wondered why his phone wouldn’t do that. He had a Samsung something or other with Google Maps, so I had him tap on the little microphone skeuomorph (which is a real word, though WordPress doesn’t seem to think so) and say “Give me directions to Oskaloosa.” And hey, his phone gave him directions, and he was happy.
He thanked me, said he thought he detected a little Dixie in my voice, and I told him I’d spent a chunk of my life in the Deep South. He said he was from Baton Rouge, and was in Iowa working on constructing a pipeline (one whose construction I opposed, but he didn’t need to know that). We chatted a bit more, then he asked if I’d ever had any gratons.
If you’ve never spent much time in Cajun country, you may not know that gratons are what other Southern folk call ‘cracklings’, and if you’ve never spent much time in the American South you may not know what ‘cracklings’ are. As far as that goes, you may not want to know what ‘cracklings’ are. But I’m gonna tell you: they’re fried chunks of pig skin and fat. Here, look:
Now, I don’t eat much meat anymore. And I realize that even dedicated carnivores are likely to turn their faces away from gratons. But I grew up eating stuff like this. He asked if I’d ever had any, and I said yes, and he opened up his car door and pulled out a container about the size of a coffee can full of spicy home-made gratons. Not those commercial pork rinds you might see in truck stops, but the real thing. I took one, popped it in my mouth, and it was hot. Even though my head said I should be disgusted, my mouth was telling me I was home. It’s hard to escape your culture.
It must have shown on my face, on account of he laughed and said “Here, have some more.” So I held out the bag I had my cookie in, and he dumped in a bunch of gratons. We shook hands and that was that. On I went. After I’d gone thirty yards or so I thought “I should have taken his photograph.” Another opportunity lost, right there.
I managed to get home without further incident. Less than two miles, 75 minutes, two conversations with strangers, and a bag of spicy gratons (which reminds me — Public Service Announcement: Cajun spices do NOT improve a frosted sugar cookie). Just another morning.
And this is why it’s so hard for me to get things done.
Or what we call chicharrones. They’re not for everyone, but they are unforgettable.
I really love your writing style.
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Chicharrones and gratons sound so much more sophisticated than cracklings. And really, if you pronounce the G in cracklings, you’re doing it wrong. I’ve eaten about half of them already, and those little bastards are seriously spicy. I’ll save the rest for after I teach my workshop tonight, when I can have a beer with them.
Dude….take more photographs!
Great story, though.
When I’m around people, photos are almost always an afterthought. Maybe, as a reminder, I should start toting my phone around in my hand rather than in a pocket.
But I probably won’t.
Now I’m hungry for gratons.
I snacked on them all afternoon. And most of the evening. Until they were gone.
Wait until you see one of them “Southerners” murder their scrambled eggs with two gallons of the “Louzana Elixir” (hot sauce to them what know enough not to get involved). If you have ulcers when you get here, you probably won’t when you leave. But, then again, you may not have much of a stomach left, either.
These words of fair warning from an ex-Wisconsinite who found the real Heaven on Earth is in Southeast Texas.
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