Dinner with Delores was always a challenge. A perfectionist, she had to have the right sauces, vegetables sliced just so, and meats hand-picked at the local butcher’s. They rolled their eyes after she left their counter, but she always got the top quality she demanded.
And she was an excellent cook, no question about that. She came from a long line of top chefs in Southern comfort food. Her grandparents had owned and operated several well-regarded regional restaurants, the best of which was “The C’mon Inn Café,” and had passed them on to Delores when they hung up their aprons and retired.
That was before the recession. All but the “The C’mon Inn Café” had closed down.
Delores was nervous. She couldn’t create the relaxed, welcoming atmosphere that let you sit back in your booth, or joke with the cooks and waitresses during pretty much any shift. With just enough customers to keep her out of the red, on account of her cooking, she couldn’t get into the black, on account of her attitude.
I could have told her how to improve business, but you can’t tell her much of anything. Yet, with all her anxiety, she was generous to her staff, let us take home what she didn’t sell, which kinda made up for the low salary.
So here I sit on the back stoop of a cranky old guy’s house where I rent a room. His dog is barking, the leaves are changing color and there’s a nip behind the autumn sun. Couldn’t ask for a better accompaniment to Delores’ bag of day-old biscuits. And as long as she lets me work the kitchen, I’ll wait it out. I know she’ll catch on eventually. She comes from good people.
Day-old biscuits. That’s the only way to describe her fanny.
Not that I wanted to, particularly. But there it was, right in front of my face. And it wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.
The row was clear, all seats emptied with a straight shot to the exit aisle. She was midstream in a ripping yarn with some woman in the row in front of us, who hadn’t yet heard what had happened at the yacht club gala last Saturday night. I toyed with the idea of crawling over the armrest.
And then I began to ponder. Day old biscuits, for sure, but maybe there was a hint of stale Croissant in the roll over her hips? At this angle, her designer tunic couldn’t hide it from me. But there was also something of the Parker House when she shifted her weight from one leg to the other.
My legs were trapped on the far side of escape. In a panic, I considered pinching a bit of her doughy amplitude to get her attention, then thought better of it. The devil you don’t know…
Maybe I should chew off my legs, and throw myself backwards into the row behind me? Instead, I waved my arms and her friend noticed me. The women laughed and apologized, and Mrs. Bakery Buns moved away from the aisle and let me stand and pass.
I smiled and nodded, abashed, remembering my manners. I swore once again that this was the last time I’d use my parents’ opera tickets.
When the dog barked
And the bee stung,
I was feeling sad.
I picked up a biscuit and gave it a bite,
And the day-old bak’ry item made me feel
(Tra-la tra-lee, ba-dump bump bump, pah!)
© Liz Husebye Hartmann (2017)
Midtown Writers Prompts: day-old biscuits, the dog barked, dinner with Delores