Sunday, August 12, 2007

Southern Hospitality:
Beware of Friends Bearing Homemade Tomato Juice

I'm fairly blessed with generous assortment of friends. Most of the spring & summer has been spent running with my art buddies due to the fact that we're all traveling most weekends that everyone else has off. And generally the weekends I have off I like to make time for my family.

My circle of friends also include quite a few folks who've kept in touch after graduating from college. Most autumn Saturdays we're tailgating together at a Furman University football game. Typical of southern football traditions this is usually an all day event that has included breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of these friends have spent long hours with us at the hospital during some of Ben's NICU & PICU stays. Just like my art buddies we consider them a part of our family.

There are two friends though that I've known for most of my life and I consider them as brothers. They know of the closest kept secrets of my life, even those that some of my family aren't aware of. All three of us are of the same age. One I met in kindergarten and the other in the first grade. Both are the only folks other than family that attended both my weddings. In fact JT (Jonathan) was a pallbearer groomsman for my first one. And get this: they are both preacher's kids. Souther Baptist Preacher Kids. That's right. The wildest of the wild; the untamed that can't be tamed; the southern rebel boys that I've most often heard these words from: "y'all watch this!"

This story is about Freebird (David). Freebird's dad actually baptized me way back when, even before Skynyrd (as they are known in the South) thought about writing a response to Neil Young's "Southern Man." When I say baptized I mean washed in The Blood dunked heels over head in a giant pool of water while grandma yells "Praise Jesus" from the wooden pew in front of the church. Sprinkles were those things they put on your ice cream at Shoney's after the service and not a way of showing your eternal commitment to Jesus Christ. No sirreebob! Good Baptists know you don't take a garden hose to a forest fire. You have to drown those sins for good in the river Jordan...or at least a giant ceramic tub behind the choir as they sing "A Closer Walk with Thee." For the record we consider ourselves Episcopalian these days. I think Jessie and Ben rather enjoyed their little hair-washing ceremonies. I know I enjoyed the mimosas and Bloody Marys at the celebration afterward. Which brings me to my real topic for today.

We have a another social tradition here in the sunny South. Whenever visiting someone during the summer months it is customary to grab a few flowers or vegetables from the garden as a friendly gesture in return for the intrusion upon the privacy of the visited. This is particularly true when said visiting occurs unannounced or 20 minutes after a phone call warning announcing said visit.

Late yesterday afternoon Freebird gives me a ring to let me know he had spent the better part of the day preparing fresh tomato juice. It seems he raided his mother's garden of some giant almost overripe Big Boys and Better Boys (no Kimmy, I'm not talking about anyone's scrotum). He now had more than enough for his family and wanted to drop a quart by our house. The idea that this was going to be a quick stop & go was quickly quashed when he asked, "Do you have any vodka?"

So my darling wife soon returned from the grocery store to discover we were soon to have an unexpected visitor. I was proud of her reaction knowing dirty laundry was lying about the house like stinky potpourri and puppy-soiled newspapers, welcome mats of doo doo, sat in front of every door. Plus she's gotten used to Freebird dropping in on a regular basis. You see, Freebird has had a rough time the past year or so.

He's soon to be a single father with full custody of two teenage girls and an eleven-year-old son. Mrs. Bird, as she was once affectionately known, flipped out early last year and decided she didn't want to be a mother or a wife any longer. It's been a long and difficult struggle. You can imagine the pure hell my friend has gone through. David has confided in us during this unfortunate journey and we are privileged to have another friend that has displayed strength and responsibility beyond the call of duty. And last night turned out to be a celebration of sorts given that the divorce is almost final and some good things are finally happening for him. Plus we all know that single parents need some adult time away from the bickering siblings and the nagging to do chores.

And so it came to pass that Freebird came to visit. Not only did I find a little vodka I had left from last football season but Dave brought his own just in case. Of course it would've been a major faux pas to serve unchilled vodka so we started the evening on our front porch with stogies and cold beer. After polishing off the entire quart of tomato juice we then switched to a bottle of Chardonnay and all the while evidently entertaining my lovely and patient wife.

And so my dear fellow bloggers I share with you a lesson in Southern hospitality. Always have a big bottle of aspirin handy just in case the fruit of the garden comes overripe and the guest of honor announces, "Y'all watch this." Now if you'll excuse me, my buddy Freebird just rang. It seems he's brewing another batch of tomato juice and needs someone to make sure it's just right...


Gretchen said...

Sounds like a GREAT Time!

Where'd you get the melted vodka bottle? I like it!

bennie said...

Google images search but I see a lot of those at craft shows. I'm considering a switch to bottle melting instead of painting.

BTW, I got a million questions about the weekend in Columbus!

edgyartist said...

what a great blogischmorg (as Jamie would call it) - great piece of writing, thanks for the laughs!

maybe you and Dave need to start doing some "happy hour art" together - not sure if anybody wants to know how it was made later, though :o)))but as far as i know, tomato juice makes some interesting color, and the alcohol will make it dry faster, right? scratch and sniff paintings of tomato/vodka/pizza mixture? ewwww. then again, it would definitely give the artworld something new... :o)

Thanks for the Etiquette lessons - no wonder the neighbors have been slamming their doors in my face :o)

creative-type dad said...

Wow- two teenagers. Best of luck to your friend.

Above Average Joe said...

Beer followed by tomato juice & vodka with a chaser of chardonnay? No wonder you need some aspirin. But you take one for the team with friends like that.