We used to explore the mysteries of the universe from the back booth of Frank’s Dairy Bar. As budding teenagers, over a cheeseburger, fries and a cherry coke, we’d discuss relevant and eye-opening topics. Looking back, my favorite might have been the single shoe theory.
You know this one. We’ve all ridden down the road and seen one shoe sitting alone over by the guard rail. But you never see a pair! And this is universal. Maybe even eternal.
We could visualize Roman soldiers marching along the Appian Way in 312 BC spotting a single solitary sandal sitting “all by itself” along that famous road. The whole Legion would instinctively wonder what happened to the other one….
Of course, we didn’t see many lone sandals in 1963. It was mostly an old brogan or a worn-out Chuck Taylor Converse sneaker. The consensus around the back booth was there couldn’t be that many one-legged people in West Tennessee.
The more imaginative among us would support the “being chased by a bear” premise. That could surely cause you to “outrun” a shoe. Perhaps a mad little brother in the back seat tossed one of your cowboy boots out the window while you were sleeping. Maybe a dog from a nearby porch dropped a loafer he’d been chewing on all morning….
Of course, the shoe never gets picked up. It wouldn’t be worth the time and energy to stop. Maybe it’s left as a portent of what could have been, or what might have happened, or it’s the unsolved mystery that makes for good conversation on a slow day….
We used to wonder aloud as we chewed on another fry, “What would your mother say if you came home wearing just one shoe?”
We once waded off into the deep subject of breakfast sides. Why is it always grits or hash browns? Is that some kind of gastronomical rule? What if you are allergic to both? What if you don’t like either?
Any topic, no matter the subject, took our minds off the mundane. Teenagers and ordinary was like oil and water, even back then….
We decided that chocolate cake and key lime pie would be better breakfast sides than the customary fare. Buddy mentioned strawberries with ice cream. Squeaky suggested Oreo cookies.
Emily summed it up for us, “I don’t see how there could be a food that wouldn’t ‘go with’ eggs and pancakes.”
I didn’t disagree with Em, but I thought to myself cauliflower might be the lone exception to her thesis.
We always got around to Eskimos and igloos. If you lived north of the Arctic Circle and built a fire to stave off the savage winter….would it melt your house down?
Leon helped us with our queries about the myth (or not) that if you dropped a cat from any height, it would always land on its feet. He’d hold Mittens upside down a foot off the ground. And let go! She’d flip over in a heartbeat and land on her feet….or as we would say, “right side up.”
If Leon moved her up to two feet, she’d still spin over. If he lowered her to six inches, that cat was like lightning! She’d land on her feet. We are not sure what would have happened from fourteen feet. When Leon crawled up on the porch roof to test that height, Mittens near ’bout clawed his eyes out and took off over the top of the house.
We didn’t see that cat for two weeks! And Mittens gave Leon a wide berth for the rest of her natural life!
Toothpaste advertisement was an easy target in those late afternoon rendezvous over by the jukebox. Every company, boldly and loudly, promised their toothpaste would get your teeth the whitest. Listen, we were just teenagers; we didn’t claim to know much…. But all but one of them was lying to us!
I thought about the old gang and our contemplations on the mysteries, unknowns and “whys and wherefores” of life a while back when it was announced that Pluto was no longer a planet. Shoot, think of all the downtime we could have filled!
Buddy would have given us a soliloquy on the ins and outs of interplanetary diagnostics. We didn’t always understand Buddy, but we would have agreed that a planet can not exist one day and not the next…if that was what he was saying!
Ricky Gene would have cut to the chase, “You can’t change planets like you do underwear for goodness sakes.”
And just think if we could have discussed how “today’s GPS system” worked in a 1960 Chevrolet. You talk about rabbit trails and killing time….
But remember, that was mostly the point from the back booth of Frank’s Dairy Bar when the world moved at an entirely different pace…..