Friday, June 5, 2009

A Cakewalk is Not a Piece of Cake

A Cakewalk is Not a Piece of Cake

By Cappy Hall Rearick

While on a recent visit to Saluda, North Carolina, Babe and I got bored staring at kudzu and decided to look around for some real estate. We hoped to find a sweet little cabin, not too old and not too big, in foreclosure

"Now's the time to pick up a little place on the cheap, Babe. Besides, if I spend another Georgia summer competing with 100 degree weather and hot flashes you won't need a Bic to light up the grill."

He had just polished off what they call a Mountain Burger in Saluda and then he ate half of mine. Good. Mama always said never ask a husband for anything until his belly is full. Mama didn't raise a stupid daughter.

I reached over and wiped the catsup off his chin, batted my baby blues and gave him the cheerleader smile that makes him think he's still captain of his high school football team.

"So, let's find us a cozy log cabin nestled close to town so we can ride bikes to the store."

He licked off what was left of the catsup and cocked his head. "Was that a question?"

That's when I knew I had him where I wanted him.

"People are so friendly here. I loved how they flagged us down today like we were long lost cousins."

Babe said, "Those people in cars with out-of-state license plates? They needed directions."

I rolled my eyes. "I'm just saying ..."

The waitress wearing a CLAREECE name badge ambled over with the check. The total was under ten dollars. Babe's eyes blinked like strobe lights. "This isn't right," he told Clareece who squinched into a frown.

"What's wrong with it?"

Babe rattled off the list of food we ordered including the super-sized fries and onion rings, two chocolate shakes and two Mountain Burgers with extra cheese. "It's not enough," he told Clareece who quickly removed her scowl.

"I thought I'd added it wrong. People round here don't usually order everything on the menu all at once. Let me see that thang again."

She looked the check over and shrugged. "Ain't nothing wrong with it. You wanna pay more, that's okay with me. I got grandchirren that wants a IPod." Then she smiled and showed off her new dentures.

I could almost see the wheels turning in Babe's head. Bargains, especially when it's food, turn him on.

"Now, if y'all have a mind for dessert, I've got just the thang," said Clareece. "

Babe's brown eyes turned into chocolate.

"Mr. Gleason, a gentleman who's lived here like forever, just found out his days are numbered. Po' man's got a brain tumor, so folks in town put their heads together and figured out how to help him. We do that 'round here for our people."

Thinking we should donate, I dug around in my pocketbook for some cash, but she stopped me.

"Huh uh, hon. We're having a cakewalk over to the Fire Hall to raise money for Mr. Gleason and his family. They don't take kindly to charity so this is how it has to be. I donated two big ol' pound cakes I baked my own self. Long about six o'clock, there'll serve barbeque and everything over there. All you can eat for five dollars."

Knowing how Babe's mind works, I figure he was wondering how much barbeque he could pile on one plate in order to get his five dollars worth without looking too much like a pig.

"Have y'all ever been to a cakewalk," Clareece asked and then proceeded to sit down between us.

I remembered Mark Twain writing something about a cakewalk, but senior moments being what they are these days, I had no idea what it was. As though clairvoyant, Clareece jumped in with the answer,

"You get in a circle and walk around while the music plays and when it stops, if you happen to be standing in front of a cake, why honey ... you git to take it home with you. You would do good taking home one of my pound cakes. I use real butter."

After my Mountain Burger, I didn't want to eat cake, barbeque or anything anytime soon, but I fell in love with the idea of a small town still holding cakewalks and taking care of their people.

"C'mon, Babe," I said gathering up a handful of real estate foreclosures. "Times a wasting, Somewhere in this town there's a cozy log cabin just waiting to be discovered."