Back in 2010, I went to Memphis for a couple of months. My son had just been diagnosed with cancer and my mom was dying. I went to help take care of them both and keep my grandbabies for the summer. One day while visiting mom…..
“Honey could you go get me some chicken livers? I have had a craving for them for the last three days.” mom said while drinking her coffee.
” Do I have to cook them or is there a special restaurant you buy them at?” I asked with reluctance in my voice. I hated using her stove.
“Down at the market is where I usually buy them. Back in the deli.” she says.
Cool, I didn’t have to monkey around with that stove from the 1800’s. I hated cooking on her stove and frying liver was the worst. I love to eat them I just hate to cook them. As I was heading to the deli, she adds to her order.
“Could you get some toilet paper, soap, milk and have them add some taters on that liver order.”
“Sure mom.” I call out as I race to the door. I knew my mom. If I hung around I would have a list a mile long and be going all over Memphis picking up this and that. Things not really needed but she felt compelled to get.
With grands in tow I headed to the deli. I get to the counter and a 20 something, beautiful blonde, blue eyed, gorgeous smile, little girl asked me,”May I help you?” with that familiar southern drawl I grew up with.
I asked if they had chicken livers today. She pointed at the food in the hot deli case between us and says
“Why, yea-us we do.” and points to the livers in the corner. The case was full of southern fried goodies from fish to twinkies. She informed me that I could get chicken livers and two thighs for $3.99. I said okay thinking that I might have one for lunch. After second thought, I changed my mind and ask to change my order back to just livers and to skip the thighs. She looked at me with a confused faced and asked, “Where did you get thighs from?”
“From you.” I said. Now she is extremely perplexed and at a loss for words. I repeated her words back to her verbatim. “You can get chicken livers and two thighs for $3.99?” She started to laugh so hard she almost dropped the prongs.
Then she says, “No, s-i-d-e-s.” which she spelled slowly, “sides” she repeated in her southern drawl. Of course, that made sense. I mean that is a huge meal for $3.99.
“That will be fine.” I say looking around sheepishly to see who, if any one, was watching this interaction. Lucky for me only about a dozen people were in hearing range. I quickly move down to the veggies. As I was peering in to the food case for the “SIDES”, I found the potatoes and something else that caught my eye. It was a strange type of pea brownish red in color with snap beans surrounded by little tom tom tomatoes. I looked up to her cheerful face and asked her, “What is that?”
“That is what I was talking about the sssiiidddeeesss.” she said with a long and drawn out pronunciation of the word, as if I were deaf or from a foreign planet.
I said, “No what is it?”
Again she says, ” A SIDE” this time with a much sharper tone in her voice.
At this point, I am laughing so hard I can’t talk. I finally get out the words, “What kind of vegetable is it?”
“Oh that is just peas, honey.” she says.
As I drove back to mom’s, I came to the conclusion that even though I have one of the thickest southern accents in the little village I call home, I apparently have lost my ability to decipher the southern dialect. O mama.
Rest in peace mama. Your laughter was the greatest gift you ever gave me. February 18, 1936 – September 7, 2010
Until next time,
I have taken on another job. I will be posting but it will only be on Mondays until I can rearrange my life’s schedule again. I will for sure be reading your post. You guys are one of the few things that brightens my days. You may only see a -like– icon but know that I am either laughing, crying or saying hmmmm while reading you. Wish me luck on this adventure. I can never turn down an opportunity even if it is down a long and unknown road.