Friday, May 1, 2015

Pocket Nuts and Friday Suppers

My friend was having a lousy day. Work bad. Coworkers worse. Weather foul. Outlook bleak. Winter looming. Lowdown sketchiness…lowdown dirty sketchiness on ice. Finks! Finks abounding everywhere! I said, “So did anything good happen today?” And he said, “Yeah. I found a pocket nut.” “A pocket nut?” “Yeah. This morning I ate my little bag of trail mix. And, that was the good thing for the morning. Then, this afternoon, I reached up for some reason, brushed my pocket, and I found a cashew that had fallen in there. Bonus. Pocket nut. It made my afternoon.”

Ah. The pocket nuts of life—who can do without ‘em?

Whether you’re having a lousy day or a great day, I hope you find some pocket nuts of various sorts along the way. Me? I started writing and editing stuff at 5:00 this morning. I’m in bed, I have a giant mug of coffee milk (I can mainline more coffee throughout the day if I pace myself and have a lot of milk in it), I have eaten my Thomas’sTM English muffin with peanut butter and sliced apple, and I’m doing grown-up work in pyjamas that are scandalously close to those a toddler wears. They are the best pyjamas ever—the pocket nut of nightwear. They’re leopard print, they’re all plushy, and they have giant, capacious pockets.

Let me say that again because it felt great. Caaaaaa-paaaaa-ciousssssss pockets. In women’s clothing, such pockets are as rare as minty fresh breath in a dive bar. Designers give us itty-bitty “patch pockets” or lame fake pockets. Where am I supposed to put my change, notes, small plastic dinosaurs, pens, and bonus cashews? Some of the best pockets I’ve found in women’s clothing have been in skirts and dresses from the 1940s and 1950s. They built in remarkably deep pockets on the seams—very canny, that. I don’t know why the state of the art of pockets was so much better then, but it probably has something to do with Rosie the Riveter and World War II—a brave, new era in which women beat their cupcake tins into swords and carried sprocket wrenches and enigma machines around in their pockets. Try doin’ that today. Huh!

There is nothing in my pockets right now. But, as I sit here working, my mind is roaming around a little and finding small pocket nuts of memories. We always used to go grocery shopping on Fridays when I was little. We went to the “Super Duper” which does not exist anymore and was perched next to the S&H Green Stamp store (also extinct). Sometimes, we were pretty poor—this soy extender stuff that came in a milk carton was a special guest star in hamburger and instead of milk in a carton we’d have dried milk in a box with water added to it. You immediately knew that you weren’t really eating hamburger or drinking milk in the truest sense. Unlike today’s evolved veggie burgers, soy extender had a salty, cardboardy, flat brown taste. Powdered milk tasted like a cow might have brushed past it on the way to go to the bathroom and it was just never cold enough somehow. Still, Friday was family pocket nut night.

Friday supper used to be “grinders”—sandwiches made at the Super Duper. I was sitting here and thinking about them—I can see them in the case. I can’t quite remember what was on the shelf above them, but it might have been cheese dip sold in glasses (cheese with pineapple, cheese with pimento). My sister used to wander off into the freezer section and snort the “cold smell” in the freezers (she was unwittingly getting high off something back then, wasn’t she—what…Freon?), but I was the designated grinder picker and I took my duties seriously. Just a quick snort of the freezers to keep my sister company, and then I was the go-to gal to pick out the best ones for us.

A powerful, fresh bread yeasty smell rose up through the plastic wrap, and while I hope I didn’t stand there systematically sniffing all of the grinders, I have a very vivid memory of the feeling of my nose pushing up against the plastic so I probably did. What can I say? The grinders had to smell right for me to pick 'em. Inside the long roll, the pickle slices, the green pepper strips, the rings of onion, and the pink winter tomato all kind of wilted together and smushed into the cheese and the bread and the meat and the mayo. It sounds bad, but it tasted great. So, there’s my sister—roaming around snorting the grills of the freezer cases—and me looking at the sandwiches. My grandmother and mother are rolling around with the cart scratching items off the list, and on the other side of the story two ladies at the bakery counter are bustling around slamming trays and sassing customers and getting ready to ask us about school and give us free “bismarks” (cream-filled pastries with powdered sugar on the outside). They smelled like cinnamon and cigarettes, and they were very nice to us.

That's my pocket nut of a memory for today.