When an old friend from Denmark arrived in town with her new husband, you quickly gave them Mason jars of sweet tea and herded them out to the porch. They miss being outdoors; they’ve had only one nice week of summer sun without rain and wind. You quickly made a list of what they’d like to do. They had not visited the States in years.
“I’d like to see the old neighborhood,” Kristin sighed. She was your next-door neighbor when your children were little. Some of your fondest memories are sitting out on Kristin’s front steps, sipping coffee in white mugs and watching her oldest son scale the top of the playhouse, while your daughter danced ballet barefoot across the cool fescue. Meanwhile both of your toddler sons trawled about on a tiny trikes, making appropriate zoom noises.
“And go to the Gap,” she added, smiling. “And Marshall’s.”
“I, myself, would like to eat a hamburger and a hot dog,” Jensen beamed. “And Tex Mex.”
“I miss Krispy Kreme,” Kristin said. “And Pop Tarts. And is there a Bud Lite, please.”
Passing them a platter of pimento cheese and crackers, followed by shrimp salad, you promised them a trip to the grocery.
After a drive down memory lane past your old homes (the playhouse long gone), you strolled in the old playground where you spent hours gently pushing swings, next to the small green field where the children learned to ride their bikes–where they held ice cream parties with pony rides–past the duck pond where the weeping willows shelter a new batch of goslings.
Then, after more sightseeing, you drove them straight to Five Guys. They clung to their greasy brown paper sacks to go, bobbing their heads along to “The Sack Brown Band,” as they called Zac’s band. You took them to the drive-in so that they could sample a hot dog. Kristin had never been.
“You can sit in the car, and not go in?” they asked, amazed. Our curbside host headed over in his jaunty paper cap to take our order.
“If you please, I would like a hot dog,” Jensen proclaimed.
The car hop, Rufus, shook his head. “Sir, what’ll ya have, what’ll ya have, what’ll ya have? You wanna red dog, chili slaw dog, mustard or naked dog? It’s your pre-rog-a-tive.”
Jensen looked at you in alarm..
“Naked dog,” you said. “Chili slaw dog, rings and an F.O.”
“And can I please have a Diet, Dr., Pepper, Cherry?” Jensen asked. The man looked at him as if he was pure-tee off his head.
“This is pretty much a Coke town,” you whispered over your shoulder, nodding at the Coke headquarters looming up over us.
“Rufus, make that a Coke Zero,” I said. “And we’re good to go.”
Kristin loved her Frosted Orange drink. Afterwards you headed home for a nap before Tex Mex. Gotta fit it all in before they left the next day. Kristin had asked where they should take a coastal side-trip while they were in the States.
“Charleston,” you said, simply, and then Mapquested them to Meeting Street.
(When they return, y’all will give them cheese straws and barbecue…and a Cheerwine for his Dr. Pepper fix…)