For the past few weeks whenever I slice an onion I can taste the onion rings my mom made. Man, they were good. Not big ole heavily coated things. Not spicy or in need of ranch dressing. Not even a big pile of them. They were just onions and flour and salt, fried crisp, and man I can still taste ’em.
I asked a few other eaters around me if that happens to them. Yep. Seems we all have taste bud memories. I’m not talking how you can just remember how that last lasagna your aunt made was enjoyed by everyone around the table. I mean when you think about the macaroni salad your granny made and you dry swallow at the same time you can actually taste it! Maybe the taste in your dry memory swallow is the coolness of your friend’s homemade bleu cheese dressing, the spice of your family’s secret meatloaf, the crunch of the crust of the bread dripping with butter fresh from Uncle Jerry’s brick oven. All very cool. But that isn’t the only cool part. Moreover, those memories have such a way of popping up when we need a boost for whatever reason in our lives.
Sometimes I have crummy days. Days where I feel crummy. Everything I touch turns crummy. I get what could be called “a mad on.” If I thought it would help, I would cuss out loud like a sailor. Learned how sailors cuss from my dad, who was a Navy guy. But I’m sailing on the wrong ship.
Often on those crummy days I look up and talk to my heaven living mom. I say things like, “Come on, Mom, help me out here.” No sooner do I get whatever it is I’m saying out of my mouth, her spirit dings me on the head with something that will make it all OK. Like those silly, but scrumptious, onion rings. Just the thought of them makes me happy in my work.
In the days of old, say during the Depression, kids learned from their parents about how to make a nickel last like it was a dime! So many of the dishes I remember and think of as wonderful mixes of food were really just a way to make the last of the lettuce mix with the last hard-boiled egg. Add a little milk, mayo and onions to make a poor man’s salad. It’s really wonderful and I make it every time we have pork chops. Like the onion rings the salad will never be as truly good as hers, but it’s a close, comforting second.
That is where I’m going, a close, comforting second.
At some time or another for some event, I would bet a dime we’ve all been a winning No. 1. However, coming in No. 2 probably has happened more often. I know it has for me. I have to admit, No. 1 is pretty cool. But with my “strive for more gene,” coming in No. 2 is my first choice. How does that work — coming in No. 2 is No. 1 for me. I’m a complicated nut to crack, huh?
Yes, it’s true if you’re No. 2 you have to try harder. But to put that in perspective, if you’re No. 2 don’t try to be No. 1 to outdo No. 1. Rather, try to be the best No. 2 that’s possible. Outdo your own No. 2. No. 1 will take care of itself in time if that’s in the cards for you. But being No. 1 at being No. 2? Well, rewards may abound. For instance ...
I draw a little guy I call Fred the Face. I made him up and I’m the only one who draws this particular Fred the Face. When I want to mark my red solo cup, I draw Fred on it. When I doodle, I draw a Fred. But Fred is no Snoopy. He’s no Hobbs. He’s certainly no Mona Lisa. But when I draw Fred, I draw the best Fred I can. Different hat. Maybe bigger ears. He’s my close comforting second.
I think Fred could take on Snoopy in a high flying dog fight. But alas, poor Fred is just a face, no body, legs, arms. At least I know he will not be able to get up and leave the room waving “so long” to me when he finds out he will always be No. 2. But a grander No. 2 has never been put to page.
Trina lives in Eureka, Nevada. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.