Friday, February 23, 2007

Odd Couples

Working in the church you come across some odd ducks every now and then. The church is full of those characters that are larger than life and stand out in the world as the sun does in the galaxy, however there are those whose oddities really rise to a new height. Such are Buck and Ruth.
Buck and Ruth were strange folks in every since of the word. Buck was always dressed in slacks, tightly tucked white shirt, pocket protector filled to the brim with pens, screwdrivers, and other ephemera necessary for his survival. His was a balding man, with salt and pepper Gray hear slicked back, and yet kind of fly away on the side. He had a "slapped" look about him usually. He was extremely intelligent and had his Bible packed full of articles and papers, truly using his sword as a file folder for all things biblical. When he walked up to me with that smile on his face, I always knew he had thought of something very clever. He had a booming announcers voice, but spoke very softly. I can also remember his tarnished gold, elasti-band watch most likely given to him by his company for retirement.
Ruth was always dressed in polyester. She had a botanical garden of polyester blouses and most always wore navy blue polyester pants or navy blue polyester skirt. She wore SAS nursing shoes and had her signature matching black handbag with the ivory scarf she wore to protect her hair from the elements. Ruth had a permanent smile which showcased her perfect smile (thanks to the modern marvels of dentures) and round glasses with an ever so slight tint. Her hair was salt and pepper grey, with the Queen Elizabeth hair do and always smelled of aqua net--always. Ruth could produce a tissue at a moments notice, like a western gunslinger always posed and ready to draw.
Buck and Ruth loved me and always sought me out to lavish my young insecure personality with compliments. Buck always knew some almanac fact or point of history that he could just regurgitate and share freely. They were very much into health and their health. Ruth knew exactly how many milligrams of sodium she had consumed in a day and freely shared the consequences of such overdose. Buck the same way. Every meal we shared at the church always had them pulling their wax paper packages of vitamins, pills, and other things to swallow out of their pockets. Perfectly cut, perfectly folded little bits of was paper. "Thank you Daddy." "You are welcome Mama." Their children had been grown and gone for close to thirty years yet they still had that sweet salutation.
Kendra and I were invited to their home for Sunday lunch once and still to this day talk about it as if we were driving home from their house. Their home was a typical 1960's ranch home, perfectly manicured and kept with every thing in its place. We joined them in the kitchen as they scrambled to get lunch on the table. "I have some appetizers for us to enjoy while lunch is being prepared." This relish plate had only pale green and white veggies, absent of any color. Cauliflower, celery, peeled radish all arranged on a white milk glass plate. The dip was a salt shaker and the information on how these veggies are best for you colon, "la, la. la, la, la."
Ruth placed the whipped mashed potatoes in her aqua blue serving bowl and began to make a decoration for presentation. She used a butter knife to carefully scallop the potatoes into this volcanic mound--licking the knife with every careful swipe! Atop the potato volcano she place two pats of butter which then oozed a golden lava river down the sides of the white potatoes. Fried chicken and green beans rounded out the lunch.
At the table the conversation was awkward, yet light. We just listened to them banter back and forth about their children and neighbors, etc. Just the things that sweet old people talk about. "Momma pass me the duck" "It's a chicken, Daddy." "Well, it's a duck isn't it?" "NO, Daddy it's a chicken." This was a basket which had been transformed into a pillowed poultry bun/biscuit holder. The bread was retrieved from the caboose of this poultry bread laying animal. Something about that retrieval portal bothered me. Buck was also very proud of his technique for removing all of the fat out of the chicken gravy. Note: removing fat from gravy is the equivalent of removing all the flavor. If you don't' want the fat, stay away from the gravy!
"Hey Will, I have a great story to tell you. Mama and I were on the way home--'Are you telling them about our great dinner find, Daddy?' Yes. Anyway, we were on our way home from the doctors office the other day and had just turned onto Hefner when the car in front of us hit a squirrel. The beauty of this is that they only clipped the head. I stopped and picked up the squirrel, took it home and dressed it and had fresh squirrel for dinner." I nearly choked, caught my eyeballs as they popped out of their sockets and proclaimed; "YOU ATE ROAD KILL!" "It was a clean kill, the meat was perfect." Shock...stunned shock is all I can say. "It tastes like chicken." I was immediately uneasy about the remaining morsels of meat on my plate. It's amazing how full one can get when you find out your host is combing the city for fresh road kill.
"Ready for dessert." Ruth disappears into the back bedroom. Minutes later she reappears with an institutional size can of sliced peaches. "I hope you like peaches." Kendra and I were calculating how many peaches we would actually have to eat-fifty or sixty maybe. We each had two peach halves in a beautiful bone china sherbet bowl. We also had animal crackers to go with our peaches.
Buck and Ruth were also known for their Meatloaf--I swear I cannot think about them holding their meatloaf without thinking of Sweeney-Todd. Buck would custom grind his own blend of meat depending upon what was in the fridge. Fresh-kill squirrel, bison, chicken, pork, beef ground up. Usually, the mystery ground meat conglomeration had some bizarre spices mixed in as well: cinnamon, cloves, thyme for example. Spices that clearly didn't like being together and decided to take out their hatred for one another on your tongue! There was also an intricately placed lattice work of very thin lines of ketchup. Meticulously drawn atop the mystery meatloaf. If only people knew what Kendra and I knew they would only admire the design and not partake.
The smell of Aqua net always takes me back to Ruth and the sight of dead squirrel's shutter me back to that fateful Sunday a decade ago when I realized that cars can be used as weapons of mass destruction.


Tracy said...

my mind is rushing with so many things after reading this. i dont think i could continue eating if i wasn't sure if i was eating squirrel or not. and the licking the knife whilst sculpting the volcanic mashed potatoes - omigosh i am positively shivering at the thought. cinnamon in the meatloaf - my mouth is not watering. omigosh
all i can think of now is Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou - of course thats not so bad now is it?