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May 9, 2006

Dear hospitals, please check for escapees.

Hospital Escapee #1:


Yesterday, on my way to the bus stop, I had the pleasure of meeting a man who was wearing a hospital gown while walking down a busy city street in downtown Los Angeles, asking people for money or cigarettes. If only he'd been wearing a bra on his head and speaking into a Pepsi can, we could have bonded. We could know the same people. Crazy is a small world, after all.

Hospital Escapee Wannabe #2:

Bob looks at me with the sad eyes of "How could you do this to me?" during what apparently was a whole hospital-themed day, wherein I once again cried at the vet's office and then, after visiting the inmates, I had not been away from the furballs for 15 minutes when I had to call the vet from my cellphone, "Can you please go check on them? I wasn't sure I latched the door all the way?" and I wasn't sure but also, Frankie was lonely. And visiting hours were over.

The good doctor W. says the cats aren't eating, but I do suspect they are just ready to come home and get their favorite food served to them on a little white dish on a special placemat like they have grown accustomed to. This is called "spoilt rotten." When they come home, I'm making them a special meal, they do love baked chicken. And ya'll, I do believe in the restorative and soothing power of food. Nothing can cure a bad mood or a paltry appetite like good home-cooked meal. Of course, I’m Southern, so my realtionship with food is a Fruedian wet dream. I believe that all good in this world starts with a hot meal.

My collective childhood experiences can be described as potlucks. After all, in the South, we look upon funerals as a time to mourn, make our peace with the departed, and chow down. There are four basic food groups where I'm from, and they go something like this: red meat, casserole, deep fried and sweets. My geographical kinfolk know there is nothing in this world that a good hashbrown casserole or plate of fried chicken cannot soothe. (I will not be frying the cats' chicken. Though I may fry me some. I need soothing. Indeed.)

My mental map of America is divided by food instead of state lines. Mid-westerners have always seemed like good people to me since they seem to share the same unspoken knowledge that anything will taste better if you melt some cheese on it. I’d always been slightly suspect of New Yorkers, but once I discovered their emotional bond with pizza, I knew they were 'alright.' (Of course, I don’t admit my admiration of New Yorkers' cuisine to my family, that would be like asking to fry the chicken with the skin off. I keep my more modern views to myself when I go home, since I don’t want to start an argument and miss out on the okra.)

Even talking about food can make a dour mood brighten up. Like right now for example. I was longfaced, now I am hungry. That, my friends, is an improvement! I can start describing my grandma’s homemade chocolate cake to someone, and suddenly all is right with the world. My dad is the same way, so maybe it’s genetic, but you just can’t stay in a bad or sad or maudlin mood when you tell the story of a chocolate sheet cake made with a half pound of butter, taken warm out of the oven and poked with the back of a wooden spoon to make holes for the warm chocolate-puddingy icing to seep in and solidify. Comfort in a 13 x 9 pan. Amen.

Posted by laurie at May 9, 2006 11:12 AM