This morning, I’m pondering something deep, as usual. I’m thinking about the deep-fried food I saw last night at the Pima County Fair, about 60 miles north of the Arizona/Mexico border.
I should be mourning like the dove cooing melancholy on the wall outside our condo. Instead, I’m cackling loudly like the thrasher out there also, waiting for his morning bits of strawberry from me.
I’m a thrasher under cover, grabbing for a sheet corner to soak up laughter tears squirting from my ducts.
My poor husband wakes just enough to show I have a semi-conscious audience. He has no idea why I’m laughing, producing reverberations throughout the condo. I’m probably causing our next door neighbor to wake and want to strangle me. It’s only 5:30 AM and everyone here is supposedly on vacation.
I choke on inhaled saliva but try calming my throat enough to share my inner rerun with Todd.
“I’m thinking about all the different food people fried, sold, and ate at the fair.
Like fried cheesecake, for example. Or fried Oreos. Or fried Twinkies. Do people really need to add more fat and calories to a slice of cheesecake or an Oreo or a Twinkie?
Or how about those fried Milky Way and Snickers bars? How do you fry chocolate anyway?”
I started laughing wildly again, grabbing for the sheet.
“And those funnel cakes. Oh yes! The fat content isn’t high enough yet on those funnel cakes! Let’s load them with vanilla ice cream, chocolate chips, whipped cream, and—so we can honestly say we’ve had one fruit serving for the day—let’s top it all off with one of those marinated-in-red dye #2-cherries!”
Now I’m grabbing for the whole top hem of the sheet to wipe my tear-streamed face and running nose. (I cannot interrupt myself to get a tissue. Sheets work just fine in moments like these. Pacing is very important!)
“Oh wait! I’m ahead of myself here. Let’s back up and consider the main course—the traditional fried fare at the fair.
Like fried chicken with a side of fried bacon, dipped in chocolate, of course, and a two-foot long cardboard cone filled with hot, dripping curly fries. I saw it with my own wide eyes!
My personal favorite was the side vegetable—a fried chocolate-covered pickle.
Does corn in the fried corn dog also count as a side vegetable?
Of course, while watching in disbelief, I did the right thing. Yes, indeed!
I ordered the only non-fried vegetarian offering in the place—a Greek salad with iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, kalmata olives, onions, and a bit too much feta cheese, which I delicately scraped to the side.
Then I sat my proud butt down and watched humanity kill itself with grease.
I watched you eat a somewhat healthy dinner of traditional gyros but I don’t think the advertised meat in that pita was really lamb. I’m thinking something more along the lines of a feral cat or something the vendor found wandering on the backside of his fair booth. If it doesn’t look like lamb, or taste like lamb, I’m thinking it’s not really lamb. Just sayin’ . . .”
At this point, I look over at Todd. I can’t tell if he’s even awake anymore . He’s completely unresponsive.
Am I not FUNNY?
I decide I don’t care what he thinks at this moment because I’m finding myself quite hysterical, thoroughly enjoying every single detail of my mental rerun. Plus, my sinuses and lungs are getting a nice morning purge.
I leave my husband in peace and continue my mental rerun on my laptop because I’m not done laughing or flushing my tear ducts.
So back to the fare at the fair . . .
I invite this very nice Hispanic couple to sit with us at our picnic table because all the other tables around were full of fried-food eaters. As I eat my salad, I notice they are washing their fried food down with a Bud Light. I can’t tell what this particular form of fried-food is because of all the breading, so I ask the 20-something woman what she’s eating.
She smiles and says with just a glint of bemusement, “It’s chicken.”
Upon closer examination, I do spot one wing. “Oh yes, now I see!”
I do too.
I love laughing at my own stupidity. Actually, I’m not stupid—just lacking experience. I don’t see chicken like that except when I’m at county fairs and they only come along once a year, usually.
Moving to my next conversation starter (or stopper) with this delightful couple, I mention the main stage act and find that the Hispanic man knows about Baby Bash, some rapper/hip hop dude. I didn’t catch the Hispanic man’s name so I’ll just call him some generic English name like—hmmm—let’s see—how about George? I think the Spanish version of George is Jorge, pronounced HOR-hay, but seeing as I don’t have many Hispanics reading my blog yet, as far as I know (and it’s quite unfortunate because I love Hispanics!), we’ll just stick with George (HOR-hay).
Well, George (HOR-hay) tells me he likes hip/hop and rap. In fact, I notice he looks and moves and talks like a hip hop/rapper dude, outfit and all. So I ask George (HOR-hay) why in the world would a hip hop/rapper dude name himself Baby Bash?
I say, “Like, to me, that doesn’t give a very good visual impression, you know? Like who wants to be a fan of someone who promotes himself as Baby Bash(er)?” I added the (er).
George (HOR-hay) laughs loudly. I can tell he has suddenly uploaded the visual of Baby Bash to his brain. He says he never thought of the Baby Bash name and image. I’m laughing loud too, as I always do, because I can’t help myself. I’m just short of hysterical again.
I LOVE this dude! George (HOR-hay) is tracking with me! He’s seeing my mental image! His girlfriend is laughing too!
Suddenly, I have an epiphany right there at the Pima County Fair, in the mix of Greek salad, fried chicken, Bud Light, Baby Bash, fried EVERYTHING all around, and lights flashing . . .
I notice older mixing with younger, whiter mixing with darker, one culture mixing with another, hymn singer mixing with hip/hop rapper, health-food eater mixing with fried-food carnivore, lemonade sipper mixing with beer gulper. I notice how all this mixing makes for a grand smorgasbord of joy in life when we embrace differences for what most are—preferences, not moral mandates handed down by God.
I realize that the best soul food has nothing to do with fat content. The best soul food has high laughter and connection content. A healthy, satisfying soul food meal is one where you don’t care how stupid you might look—when you can laugh at yourself and your differences with others in a kind manner. It’s looking for ways to connect with others and show a bit of love to them and yourself, the way God loves all.
LAUGH with LOVE.
Because laughter and love clear more than sinus and lungs.
Laughter and love clear divides and connect hearts.
A cheerful heart is good medicine . . . Proverbs 17:22a
Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40