After being “iced in” during the recent ice storm, Lanny and I were tired of eating Cream of Yesterday. We ventured to Walmart to buy ingredients for substantial soups. We chose to travel in his clunker truck, since it couldn’t hurt it if it was a dance partner in a car collision. Roads were slick, so we crept. I asked Lanny to drop me off as close to Walmart’s front door as possible. “Closer. Get me CLOSER!” I insisted.
“Cindy, if I get you any closer, you’ll be in Housewares.”
We bought ingredients for three kinds of hot soup: chili, potato soup, and beef stew. And more than a few serrano peppers. After all, a cold house can be converted into a warm home with a pot of spicy hot soup. It is an inexpensive type of central heating, and the varieties are infinite. My grandmother thought that chicken soup was the panacea. In fact, when one of her chickens got sick, she killed a healthy chicken, made chicken soup, and fed it to the sick chicken.
I am a survivor of my mama’s molten-lava treatment. One spoonful of her soup and I became a dragon, puffing smoke, some of it through my ears. I could feel the hot fluid mainlining it through my blood vessels, even into the fine capillaries of my eyeballs. If I ever made the mistake of trying to put out the fire by swallowing cold water, I found myself percolating. Between snorts and coughs I would express my admiration: “It’s great (puff), Mama (puff). It’s great (puff). Thanks (puff), Mama.” But my brother, my sister, and I lapped it up . . . noisily, with a sing-song slurp. If people could hear us rhythmically eat our soup today, they’d probably get up and start dancing the polka.
While our neighbors used soup spoons, we used soup knives. One time I actually cut my mouth on my mother’s soup. In fact, Mama’s soup was always so thick that when we stirred it, the room went around. And the stew meat didn’t need to be tenderized, either; our hunger-honed teeth could tenderize marbles.
Lanny and I didn’t return home in time for the first soup to get done for supper. On the way, I asked, “Do you like day-old soup?
“Good. Eat some cheese and crackers. The soup won’t be ready until tomorrow.”
When Lanny got out of the truck, his feet slipped out from under him. He looked like Daffy Duck, running in place, double-time---first forward and then backward. Zip-zip-ZIP! Zip-zip-ZIP! He fell flat on his back, boots in the air. It wasn’t funny. I hardly laughed at all. Really. Even today, I’m hardly laughing.
Hardly at all.