Once while visiting Saluda, North Carolina, Babe and I got bored staring at kudzu and decided to look around for a sweet little cabin to buy, not too old and not too big and hopefully in foreclosure.
"Now's the time to pick up a little place on the cheap, Babe. Besides, if I spend another Georgia summer with 100 degree weather competing with my hot flashes you won't need a Bic to light your grill."
He had just polished off a huge cheeseburger at the Saluda Grill after which he ate half of mine, which was a good thing. Mama always advised me to, “Never ask a husband for anything until his belly is full.” Mama didn't raise stupid children.
I reached over and wiped the catsup off his chin, batted my eyes and gave him the cheerleader smile designed to make him believe he's still captain of the high school football team.
"So, let's find us a cozy little cabin nestled close to town, Babe. That way, we can ride our bikes to the store, okay?"
He licked off what was left of the catsupand cocked his head. "That was a trick question, right?"
That's when I knew I had him.
"The people here are so friendly. I loved it when that couple flagged us down like we were long lost cousins."
Babe said, "You mean those tourists asking for directions?"
I rolled my eyes. "Just saying ..."
A waitress wearing a Smiley Face name badge ambled over to the table with our check. The total was somewhere around ten dollars. Babe's eyes blinked like strobe lights. "This can’t be right," he told Smiley Face who squinched her brows into a frown.
"What's wrong with it? I figured it up myself." She glared at Babe with a look that said, “For your information, I made straight A’s in school.”
Babe rattled off the list of food we’d ordered including fries, onion rings, shakes and two cheeseburgers with double cheese. "I don’t think you charged us enough," he said.
Smiley Face's scowl quickly eased. "I added that thang twice so I don’t think it’s wrong. People ‘round here don't usually order everything on the menu all at once.” She snatched the bill out of Babe’s hand. “Let me see that thang again."
She looked it over and shrugged. "Nothing wrong with it. You wanna pay more, that's okay with me. I got a grandkid wants a iPad." She smiled to show off her new dentures.
"Now, if y'all have a taste for dessert, I've got just the thang for you," said Smiley.
Babe's brown eyes instantly morphed into liquid chocolate.
"Mr. Gleason, who's lived here since the day he drew breath, just found out that he needs a operation so folks in town got together and figured out a way to help him 'cause he needs us. We do that 'round here for our people.”
Thinking we should donate to the cause, I dug inside my pocketbook for cash, but she stopped me.
“Huh uh, hon. Keep your money. We're having a cakewalk over to the Fire Hall to raise money so he can hire somebody to nurse him after he gets out of the hospital. He’s a proud man and don't take kindly to charity, so this is how it’s got to be. I donated two big ol' pound cakes I baked my own self and long about five o'clock, there'll be serving barbeque. All you can eat for five dollars.”
Knowing how Babe's mind works, I knew he was figuring out how much barbeque he could pile on one plate for five bucks. Remember that movie about a pig named Babe? Well ...
“Y'all know what a cakewalk is, don’t you?” Smiley sat down between us.
The only cakewalk I could think of was in a story by Mark Twain. As though clairvoyant, Smiley filled in the blanks for me.
“You get in a circle and mosey around while the music plays. When it stops, if you're standing in front of a cake, you git to take it home with you. You’d be lucky if you won one of my pound cakes 'cause I use real butter.”
After eating the biggest cheeseburger on the planet, cake, barbeque or anything else didn’t interest me, but I fell head over heels in love with a small town that cares so much about their people that they hold fund raisers.
“C’mon, Babe,” I said grabbing a real estate brochure. “Times a wasting. My intuition tells me there's a cozy little cottage about to get a down payment.”
He rolled his eyes. “Can we go to the cakewalk first? It would be a shame to pass up Five Buck BBQ.”
Authors Note: Sure enough, we found that cottage and even managed to scrape up the down payment. Oh happy day!