Thursday, December 31, 2009

Home Style Hospitality With the Birds

My mother is a die-hard member of the VFW, or Veterans of Foreign Wars club. Basically, what this means is that she, and her other lady friends who I call the "birds", spend a lot of their lives down at the VFW hall socializing over dirt cheap cocktails and volunteering time to cook meals for veterans, riding in the Veteran's parades on the back of motorcycles motored by old men, and pitching in to do good deeds for local sources of need. Every once in a blue moon, I will venture down to the hall to say hi to the birds and enjoy a $2 Greyhound. I am not a member, so I always have to sign in, even though the birds have made me a perpetual honorary member, along with some of my close friends who have ventured down there from time to time for karaoke night. It's not the cheap drinks and revelry and charitable cause connections that stand out so much for me anymore though. It's the food. A few nights a week, the ladies will volunteer to cook dinner at the Hall, and will sell dinner tickets to anyone who wishes to eat. A chalkboard menu will announce the evening special which is always a basic favorite downhome thing like cheeseburgers and fries, lasagna and garlic bread, or pork cutlet sandwich (with the patty the size of the plate). For just about five dollars, these meals are served steaming hot and made with love. Most of the ladies at the VFW grew up in the fifties and sixties, so they were all a part of the era of comfort food and mommas in aprons who made things from scratch. They know how to cook everything in ways that make the belly warm. Now I have a place I can go with no makeup in sweat pants and enjoy a meal with a bevy of mothers whenever I wish and I will never underestimate or take advantage of the true comfort in that. It's like a lullaby.

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