Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Would you like hashbrowns with that?

I love the Waffle House. Any Waffle House, any location because the scenery does not change.

Dolly the chain-smoking, blonde-wig-wearing waitress is always leaning over the counter, directly under the "No Smoking" sign, dangerously wielding her 3/4 ashed cigarette directly over your scattered, smothered, chunked, and topped hashbrowns.

Jimmy the burly, misted with sweat, Jackson Pollock aproned, short-order cook who looks a wee bit too old to still use a "y" on the end of his name standing amid a grill littered with the perfect recipe for a severe myocardial infarction marinating in its own greasy ooze.

The old, weathered man sitting near the corner with a John Deere hat perched high atop his head in the spirit of Elmer Fudd. His chin is tilted slightly down, eyes at half mast presenting the observer with a problem; dead, asleep, or merely resting between bites of onion-loaded chili?

Any time after midnight and between seven ante meridiem there's the group of young-ish men, all with the same bottle-black hair cut as if they stood in the same shower at the Y squeezing the black mustard bottle goo onto each other's noggin saying things like, "Dude, I feel like this really signifies my angst," and "My mom is gonna be so fucking pissed."

And then there's me. The 20-something bent over a steaming cup of coffee and a tattered notebook with one eye squinted and the mascara I had so carefully applied 15 hours ago turning me into a gross interpretation of Alice Cooper. Scribbling frantically between cigarette puffs to accurately portray the various types one might run into at the Waffle House.

You sure do got a pretty soul... .

Fillyjonk over at Shapely Prose did a fluff piece in honor of the new Paul Giamatti film called Cold Souls. The basis is that a company figures out how to extract people's souls and they come out as a vision of something tangible. There were some amazing comments on that page regarding what people thought their souls were and those of their family members.

You don't know me and I'm sure you don't really give a fly... but I thought I'd give you the run-down of my family's souls in case you ever run into any of them and recognize them via their not-real-fake-soul-I-just-made-up-on-my-blog.

I think my 14 year old niece's soul is a shoebox full of crayons collected over many years with brand new, never used crayons mixed in with the old broken, paperless nubs from use. And that unmistakable crayon smell and the sound they make when you dig through them.

I think my dad's soul is a top-of-the-line, sheepskin leather chamois. Soft, flexible but tough as nails. It soaks up everything and becomes softer over time, it can make something look brand new with a little work.

I think my grandma's soul is a pair of those pink, feathered high heels you wear with your nightgown. Luxurious, glamorous, feminine, sensual, and totally impractical.

I think my 12 year old nephew's soul is well-worn, soft, baseball glove - oiled up with the ball inside and a rubber band around it. Always getting it ready for game day, always sure it could be a little more fitted around the ball.

I think my brother's soul is a round river rock about the size of the palm of your hand. Hard, but smooth in your hand. The more you put it in your pocket or carry it around, the more polished and soft the outside feels.

I think 5 year old niece's soul is a wand constantly blowing bubbles. Each bubble unique and beautiful, but fleeting. Reflecting everything around them in a mirror of rainbow colors.

I think my 6 year old nephew's soul is a library book with the card catalogue numbers marked on the outside and the due date card in the pocket on the inside. Hardback but with bright colors and lots of pictures and stories.

I think my sister's soul is a small, antique rocking chair that's polished and shining with beautiful carvings that are worn smooth from use. And a small, soft blanket folded and laid over the back. A rocking chair that's been used for many years and that's rocked countless babies to sleep.

I think my mom's soul is a bird's nest nestled in the crook of an old barn. Built out of the normal things and the unusual things a bird might come across: a lock of hair, a piece of ribbon, a brightly colored piece of cloth. A place for any bird to find comfort, warmth, protection. A nest that's been through rain, wind, and snow always to be rebuilt. A safe place to land.

My soul is an old, wooden shipping box filled with straw and fabulously beautiful, broken dishes. If you could just put them together they would be priceless and amazing... but you can't ever put broken dishes back together.

So tell me... what does your soul look like?