2019-01-09 / Opinion

THE WEEKLY POST

The Grits are Gone
by Bud Hearn

And so is 2018. At least much of it. The dangling details of yesteryear are like the uneaten leftovers that linger in our refrigerator. They loiter like holiday hangovers and attest to our experimentation with epicurean indulgence. Inside is an array of what appears to be small, dish-like spaceships and other galactic debris, all wrapped in shiny aluminum foil. They resemble giant petri dishes wherein billions of alien microbes might be breeding. It happens.

These scraps from yesterday’s delicacies have outlived their vitality. Like many of last year’s unfinished details, they’re now just scrapings for disposal or kept around for unpleasant discussions of who’s responsible for the cleanup.

I begin the process, not quite knowing what to expect when the foil is removed but expecting the worst. I’m not disappointed. Too bad we can’t dispose of 2018’s wreckage as easily. But some leftovers are more resilient than others.

My father was a frugal fellow. He preferred LOV’s... left over vittles. It’s a South Georgia tradition. When I uncover remaining fragments of the cheese grits, his voice speaks: “Son, it takes true grit to throw out the grits.” But since grits are mainly white and yellow, not green, out they go.

There’s more than just grits to discard, some of it bordering on bootleg contraband. I’m speaking of the Evan Williams Egg Nog. No sugar, but 80 proof. Finally, a Christmas gift worthy of a stocking. I take the last, long swig, lick my lips and smile. I keep the bottle.

The purging process continues. There’s not much left of the ten-pound ham. It’s looking pretty shabby, like having been in a Juarez knife fight or surgery by a blind orthopedic surgeon using a chain saw. Little remains but the bone. I carve off scrapings sufficient for the bean soup and toss the bone to the dog. He needs no instructions.

I peel back the foil from what vaguely resembles a chicken. Resurrection is out of the question. About the only possible utilization for this carved-up carcass is anatomical bone study or soup stock. Reminds me how Lincoln described Douglas’s thesis, “It’s as weak as soup made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.” The boiling water welcomes its victim.

Something seems to be alive and moving beneath one square of foil. I open it to find several yeast rolls, apparently still fermenting. The sight of fermenting yeast rolls troubles me, remembering Jesus’s warning to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. I issue a stern rebuke and without remorse cast them out.

The tenderloin, so rich and rare, hides behind some twice-baked spaghetti. It pains me to pitch something that cost a full month’s Social Security check to acquire. I vacillate between decisions. To unceremoniously shed such a succulent delicacy without a due-process hearing would make me a one-man vigilante. I give it a reprieve.

Not so the spaghetti. Noodles are cheap. They served a purpose, but that was then, this is now. It reminds me of the cheap platitudes found on tasteless greeting cards. Good riddance.

There’s more. There’s always more. Casting out is a recurring lifelong process. Nothing lasts forever. It’s time for new vittles, fresh vittles, vittles with vitality. We lose our appetite for the old ones.

After tonight’s New Year’s Day dinner the LOV’s stage a comeback that my daddy would be proud of…collard greens, black-eyed peas, sweet onions, yams and smoked quail. Out with the old, in with the new. The cycle begins again.

But one thing remains from the day’s purging. It languishes like royalty in the sterling silver server. Like keeping our good friends, some things are worth saving. Such is the chocolate cake.

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The grits are gone, and so is 2018. But out of what remains let’s keep the best, toss the rest and sing with zest a toast to the past:

“Should auld Acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld Acquaintance be forgot, and Auld Lang Syne.”

Onward, friends and stay in touch.

Bud Hearn

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