I’ll Play Bass, You Play Tenor

We were in the grocery store on a recent Sunday and out of nowhere I started thinking about beans and cornbread. It just popped into my head and I almost tasted it on my tongue, this staple from my childhood, pinto beans wafting steam into the air, cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet, the skillet seasoned from years of duty and greased with a generous helping of bacon fat.

You never know when a craving will hit you. Then again, when you’re married all cravings must be inspected before approval for use in the household. Kind of like having your own personal FDA, which usually stands for, Forget D’ Abo’ it.

To the unacquainted ear, “Hey, honey how about some beans and cornbread? ” I have to admit, sounds a little humdrum.

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That’s the thing about melding our two backgrounds. Often I must put myself in Bovey’s shoes to understand why something that to me sounds so appealing, to her sounds like an invitation to chew aspirin.

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When I was growing up, one of my favorite foods was beans and cornbread. Throw in a pork chop and you got heaven on a plate. Maybe add some potatoes sliced thin as paper and fried in Crisco to block an artery or two.

Done. Wrap it up.

To this, my parents sometimes shared collard greens. When we were kids, collard greens were the one thing we were allowed to pass on. I guess my parents thought it was too grown up, a little too challenging.

Mom fixed the kind that came frozen in a bag, just enough for two, presented on the table in a tiny bowl sitting amongst the large plates of cornbread, pork chops and potatoes and a big bowl of beans.

It was so cute the way they shared this, a nod to their halcyon days of romance before their lives were overrun by their own private leprechaun army.

Yes, they took mercy on us when it came to collard greens, the site of which reminded me of little green worms.

We didn’t get a pass on anything else though. Leave a sprig of broccoli, and we’d be sitting at the table until we either finished the offending vegetable or the skies rained frogs. Whichever came first.

Showdowns like these tested our parents and I can remember a fit or two thrown, but they never backed down, not even when a tear gurgled down our red-hot cheeks. What’s one more tear when you got four kids who all cried a river a piece before they turned six.

Let it rain, child, let it rain.

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So with a craving for beans and cornbread searing my brain, I had to find a way to persuade Bovey to try it, overcome her initial resistance, which basically amounted to me saying, “Come on, you’ll love it.”

And me hearing her reply, “Blah blah blah blah blah.”

“It’s awesome!”

“Blah blah blah blah blah.”

“Great. It’s settled. Beans and cornbread tonight. Honey, you’re the best!”

Later Bovey had to admit she really liked it. Which was maybe more exciting for me than her because that means plenty more beans and cornbread for this household.

I’ll play bass, you play tenor.