Sorry for the late post. Bugger's at it again! But I won't waste time telling you how many hairs I pulled out this time. On to the good stuff...
So you guys know I went on vacation, right? (Oh, stop groaning) New places and experiences are food for writers' imaginations, and I expected my holiday at the beach to feed mine, but I got Nada while giving my pre-melanoma spots more fodder for metastasizing.
However, we WERE in the South--North Carolina, to be precise (which the natives have sadly noted has been spoiled by too many migrating New Yorkers). My husband's Raleigh born and bred, with roots going back to the mid-18th century, so my Yankee accent is tolerated.
Driving around the brand new interstate lined with endless pines shimmering with heat, I kept seeing signs advertising this magical place, a place boasting publicly of legendary southern hospitality: Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits.
"Is that any good?" I asked my husband. His eyes bore permanent scrawls from squinting into sun unfiltered by the ozone layer. "What kind of food do they serve?"
"A heart attack on a plate."
"Let's check it out."
And so I began to find inspiration.
Bojangles Chicken and Biscuits can be smelled a half mile before it's seen, a seductive scent of grease and crisping animal skin. My husband, southern as he is, prefers the more comfortable confines of Chick-Fil-A where your chicken comes boneless. Bojangles doesn't fuss with that. They coat chicken parts in a thick spicy layer and toss it into a vat of palm kernel oil and nobody asks for the nutrition sheet. It comes with sweet tea (if you've been south of Mason-Dixon, you know what I'm talking about), and the servers look at you funny if you ask for a diet coke instead. It's Pepsi country.
So we get our chicken after a long discussion about sides (the biscuits were a no-brainer, but we had to puzzle over the Brunswick stew and the coleslaw that looked like it was soaked in apple juice), and the girl at the register can barely contain herself from rolling her eyes. Damn Yankees, I could see her thinking. We hit the dining area with our loaded tray, and I sighed in pure pleasure.
The room was full of church ladies in their best Sunday dresses.
Heaven for the writer, this flock of immaculately kept elderly women with purring vowels and pillbox hats. My imagination snapped into overdrive: why would these ladies choose to meet at the Bojangles after church? Was it the ambiance? Or something else, something that cut deeper, like heritage maybe, or the really good biscuits? Why didn't they meet at the Wendy's across the street? It was newer and bigger.
The chicken squirted grease in my mouth, and my daughter wasn't too keen on having to pick steamy meat off the bones of her entree--she's a Chick-Fil-A fan too. My husband steadily mowed through his sausage-biscuit sandwich and I sat entranced at the inspiration that had landed in my lap, and thankful that I keep my writer's cap on at all times.
Unexpected inspiration. Suddenly my two-week jaunt away from the computer seemed worth it.