memories from childhood

“Writing 101, Day Eight: Death to Adverbs: Go to a public location and make a detailed report of what you see. The twist of the day? Write the post without adverbs.”

Our assignment from yesterday above. My attempt below. I guess I pulled off little to no adverbs in this post but it seems like this may have veered  a little off the assignment’s intended course.


I went out to lunch today. It hasn’t been a normal occurrence the past few weeks. No, instead I eat at my desk and continuously put my brain through all kinds of calisthenics, trying to learn the intricacies and nuances of the job that our senior payroll clerk left a month ago.

Today, though, I decided to leave the office for an hour of respite. And where did I go? I decided I was going to sit. I decided I was going to take myself away from the grind if not for just 40 minutes. I decided to sit my big ass in a chair, at a table, with silverware and treat myself to some barbecue.

It’s strange isn’t it, how the smell of something so familiar can still take you back to a far off place. As I walk in to the restaurant synapses begin triggering and firing, chemicals and tiny electrical impulses flaring to create a view of my grandfather behind his grill basting a brisket and slow cooking chicken.

BCGs vietnam

by photobucket user Wayne Auld

In the military we called them BCG’s (birth control glasses). You know the type.. those black, plastic rimmed glasses that always popup during television features. There will be the requisite veteran from Vietnam holding a 3×5 black and white photo of himself, shirtless, youthful, strong, vibrant holding an M-16 against the backdrop of the jungle with those quirky glasses that are now so popular with young 20-something hipsters.

That’s what he wore. BCGs and despite the follicles on the top of his head no longer producing their share of cover for the top of his head, the sides that grew in salt and peppery, he kept very trimmed. I suspect he wore that hair style from the day he got out of boot camp, much like me, not having been a slave to hair styles since leaving Marine Corps Recruit Depot 20 plus years ago.

I remember my grandfather from the perspective of a 10 year old little boy. So to me he was really big but in reality he wasn’t a very tall man… perhaps just average at 5’9”. But he had a belly though. It was big. Solid. It didn’t feel like the squishy fake belly of the department store Santa. No, it was real. Built from years of drinking a Schlitz or two in the evenings for 30 years.

Coincidentally, there was a big bellied older man behind the greasy counter cutting up brisket and Texas polish-style sausage. Every third customer or so he would grab his knife steel and sharpen his blade. The fling of steel on steel as he swiped his knife over the sharpening tool was familiar and it again took me back to my grandfather.

Sharpening-Steel“You know what one of the most dangerous things in a kitchen is?” he says as I look up, my neck bent back and eyes squinting in the afternoon sun as his glasses flicker a glint of sun at me.

*fling, fling, fling, fling* The sound of his knife rides up and down on his knife steel and he stops for a moment, points his blade up a bit and examines it for a moment and declares, “a DULL knife.”

The fling of his blade against the steel continues again.

“Hey buddy! What’ll ya have?”

“oh. Um… how about brisket and chicken.”

5 thoughts on “memories from childhood

  1. Veered off the assignment or not, you did well son! Really enjoyed reading this and actually felt as if I was there. Though… I’d be rocking my own set of BCGs if I had some.

    I’d look sophisticated.

  2. Nicely done, Sue! Smell is such a strong memory device. I could smell the smoke as I read your description. And the parallels you drew between the man at the counter and your grandfather made your narration immediate as if they were standing side-by-side asking for your order.

  3. Great read and ditto above comments. You said so much in one post that was basically just you going out to lunch, but really it was so much more. Hope that makes sense!

  4. I love this! A great read and what they all said above me. It makes me think of my Papa. Great timing as I am on my way to his old house to possibly buy it. What great memories I will have then. Thanks for this!

  5. I agree with all the rest. I haven’t tackled this assignment yet but I think you did a great job- of both taking the reader along with you to the experience and not using adverbs. 🙂

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