|Aunt Marilyn chose to have a family and drive a school bus rather than be a stand up comic.|
Props to her on that 'cause she is a superstar, a comic genius with an infectious laugh and a love for life.
I walk into the camp carrying bags and hoping for some help to get things out of the car. Both of my brothers are there and both want to know where the gumbo is.
Is that it?
No. It's in the car. I'm just glad I survived it.
Let's see it. They follow me to the car.
Josh, get that. I point at a small red pot.
Is that it? One echoes the other.
No. That's the chili for anyone who doesn't like gumbo. I pick up a large silver macdaddy of a pot filled with my gumbo sans rice.
Back in the camp they both grab spoons, walk over to the stove and hover. Jason says, I can already tell you several things you did wrong with it just by looking at it, but only after burning his tongue tasting it.
Something happens. Something, some time warp of ohmygosh, this is happening. My brothers and I are all in the same room and we're not fighting and we're laughing and I'm saying to Jason, Dude. I survived it. My first gumbo. If people can eat it and nobody vomits then I'm saying I won in the Can Shea Make a Gumbo? category.
I made a gumbo. I listened to music and danced, temporarily lost use of my right arm, wrist and hand. Doubted myself. Told myself it is okay. Actually had a moment of thinking I could beat him. In just the roux with the trinity I whooped it but had too much broth 'cause I got cocky and started getting all wild with the recipe. Kinda I don't need that. Look at me. I got this.
Moral of the story.
When you think I got this. You may not have it.
There's a grocery store in Water Valley, MS called B.T.C. Grocery. Alexe and her husband own it. The story, just the story, would be reason to go, contribute in trade for what they provide. The name, just the name of the place, B T C stands for be. the. change. They got me with the name and they keep me with what it means.
I want to take photos. I intend to take photos but I need to do the slaw and make grilled cheeses for the kids and where does everything go and who did that and where are the spoons and bowls and where's a paper towel and would ja like something to drink?
I meet Alexe at an art show. Karen introduces us. She glows and glides and smiles and looks as if she came right off the cover of Vogue.
Jason has such a solid win that I actually get a pity vote from Tony's husband, Kenny. Shout out to those people who have pity on the world. Also, I would like to go ahead and request that Kenny be on the voting panel next year. Those seven others though, we need to replace. I don't care if they're family. Who needs 'em?
I don't know when it happened for Alexe, if she was just born that way. It doesn't matter because the energy she emits comes from the heart and what she dreams turns into that store.
You can see it here and here.
It all happens so fast but not really. At one point far, far, far into the evening I look at Kim and say, What time is it?
She finds a clock or a phone or she looks at the moon, Seven.
She nods, Yes.
It has to be two a m.
No, it's seven. You look tired.
I'm exhausted, then guilt.
When Kim finally says at eight thirty, I think I'm gonna go home,
I respond, I've been waiting on you to leave so I could.
She drove four hours to hear that but she also got to eat gumbo and see some fabulous people she hasn't seen in a long time. I hope she'll be back.
I promise I learned to be better this year but sometimes I'm not near as good as I'd like to be.
Dear 2013 Marlee Party Shea,
Get more rest.
Start the gumbo on Wednesday.
Take your time.
2012 Marlee Party, the day after Shea (remember her)
Today I am so very grateful for family and friends and each one of them and each one of you.
It's good to not be alone.
A special thank you goes out to Mathis Produce and Peaches for hay bales, decorations and the all too crucial okra. Buckhaults Sawmill and Pallets for their attendance. Family Fish Camp with the famous how does she do that Hershey Cake. Kim for the Butterfinger Cake. Aunt Wanda and Jennifer with popcorn and chicken dip. Priscilla and Josh for onion dip, music and salad. Tony and Madalyn both with beautiful banana puddings. Aunt Sue with Grace and german chocolate cupcakes and Mom and Dad, I would surely be missing something in the list of all they did.