If I am repaired, can we meet again for the first time, in all of the places I have feared to go, and then, again, in all of the places I will have forgotten, if I am repaired?



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Chapped Hands and Breakfast

My hands woke me up at three o’clock this morning. They where just that irritated… chapped. Winter, wood heat, cleaning them with paint thinner and the neglect, common to a preoccupied mind will do it every time. I need to put a pan of water on the stove, too, before my sinuses turn to dust.

So, the big breakfast was interesting... in a Heartland documentary kind of way.

I toted myself down to the Fairfield Masonic Lodge around eight. Sadly, I wasn't hungry.

The Lodge used to be a large, one room school house, with teacher's quarters upstairs. I like the building. Its kind of Shaker-esque salt-box with white siding and forest green metal roof. It has a small covered porch and door, front and center of the long side. I’m guessing the Masons did away with the windows... there's not one. 

Parked in the gravel lot and lawn were twenty or so pickup trucks when I arrived. I was hoping for less. Most of the trucks bear the eye and compass and square symbol, pentagram, or both.  

The old school’s guts have been reworked slightly to accommodate lodge meetings and the annual fund-raising fish fry and breakfast. There’s a brief foyer that sends you either off to your right, into the dark secrets of the Masonic brotherhood or you can go straight, into a sort of dinning hall with crowded drop ceiling, fluorescent lights, faux pine paneling and a tight wooden floor that has been painted battleship gray.

Clearly, people are eating breakfast in the latter. However, the Indiana Jones in me wants to wander off into the dark abyss to my right. Fortunately, before I can make a decision that might forever destroy my growing hold in the Fairfield community and possibly get my ass thrown out of a family oriented benefit breakfast, I’m instructed to, “Come on in! Get ya somethin’ to eat!”

I come on in. To my right, in the dinning hall, there’s a paneled kitchen behind a paneled serving bar that is stuffed full of a half-dozen men who easily take up the space of twenty average men. They’re wearing aprons, cutting up and slinging hash, as it were. On my left there are three rows of fold out tables covered in beige vinyl with obligatory sprigs of Christmas decorating their centers. There are fifteen or so eaters. Think: truck stop, greasy spoon, meat and three, mom and pop’s.

I’m being told what’s on the menu: two forms of fried pork, white flour biscuits and something that appears to be scrambled eggs… oh, and white gravy, of course. It all sounds so much more delicious than my usual yogurt and raisins and walnuts that I’m a bit befuddled and don’t know what to order. It’s suggested that I try a little bit of everything. I agree, and am served an enormous quantity of food, proportioned, I’m guessing, to what the server believed to be the common appetite.

I donate, spot Mike, the guy who invited me, seated and eating, and lug my plate of vittles in his direction.

Mike is glad I came and introduces me to the four or five others at the table, as ‘the guy you need to talk to if you ever need any furniture or cabinets’. I appreciate his selling me, I tell Mike and sit down and listen as they resume their conversation, which is politics, so I tune the conversation out and take a closer look at the room’s occupants.

Where there isn’t a Veteran, Farm Bureau, CO-OP or this or that Feed and Grain hat, there’s Brylcream. Fashion in the room is limited to plaid flannel, slacks and Members-Only or Carhartt jackets. I’m counting all the pores I see that have dilated past three millimeters, missing partials and coke bottle glasses when somebody says, “She’s from California you know,” and somebody else replies, “Well, that explains it!”

Breakfast is salty and greasy, but I eat it all and shake hands and remember to say my name most of the time and finally when it’s done I go home and change clothes and change me’s and hug Dog and tell Gloria about my adventure. Then I walk out to the shop and let the morning fade into make-believe, where it belongs.


  1. Ahhhhhh delicious last line...

    You described it all so well, I could just imagine being there, thank you!!!


  2. That sounds worse that the realistic haunted house I visited two years ago at Halloween. I'm still having bad dream about that although my bad dreams last night involved chickens.
    You are a courageous man. I have run like a scared cat from gatherings much more benign than that.

  3. Ah yes, brave little me, out among the aborigine.

  4. Never could figure why they never use windows in those places.. is it just to be more mysterious.. sometimes peoples imaginings of what happens behind closed space is what causes all the problems in the first place.. maybe it is to keep secret their secret handshakes..
    or do they need all that uninterrupted wall space to hang huge wonderful paintings.. ha. well I can imagine.. reminds me of monks and labyrinths and saving the information cause the common serfs wouldn't know what to do with it. or so they thought...(like in Umberto Eco's "the Name of the Rose")
    .. too bad they painted the floor.

    I feel like I went with you.. Good thing I'm only reading it though cause if I laughed like this there, I'm sure I would have been asked to leave... besides I'm a woman and I'm sure they would have noticed my disguise..

    YOU sure write GOOD..... I loved it!!! the details are always what make the difference!!!


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