When friends and/or family are locked in a serious arm wrestle with debilitating illness, I find myself thinking about those infamous bucket lists my friends stow in the back pocket of their wallets. Bungee jumping. Solo flights. Hiking perilous peaks. Exotic destinations. Seeking Nirvana. Throwing caution and common sense aside, they move from one bullet point to the next. Place a smug checkmark adjacent each achieved aspiration.
My bucket list pales in comparison, but the important footnote is that it is MY bucket list.
One glorious benefit of successful aging, is the ability to care less about some things and to care more about others without guilt.
My bucket list is entitled "Food For the Soul". It is curt and concise. Very unlike me. Before I share it with you, however, walk back with me in time. I grew up on chicken casseroles made with cream of chicken soup, topped with crushed potato chips. Bread slathered in real butter. Thin slices of bologna, hand sliced, with the red rind still attached, slowly peeled and rolled into a consumable cigar. Fried chicken so tender and juicy it could make you weep. Turkey basted in butter, baked to a crisp high sheen with fist stomped potatoes cratered and awaiting golden gravy drippings. We rubbed the butter into the skin of the turkey with our bare hands, then used the same table top to roll out the pie dough. Salmonella. Phooey. We licked the bowls and beaters clean, cake batter and cookie dough, oblivious to the microscopic nasties. Butter on a china plate in the cupboard soft enough to spread.
Freestone peaches with blood red pits, juice gurgling down my chin.
Handfuls of dark purple cherries, staining lips, tongue and teeth.
Real whipped cream beaten into a frenzied foam. Icing from scratch.
Pie crust laced with lard, so tender, it flaked in your mouth and melted like a snowflake.
Ripe bananas floating atop cherry Jello.
Check out the footage of Woodstock. Look at the lithe young bodies on display. Average Joes and Janes. Normally abnormal or abnormally normal ? Simply sated appetites.
Now, my world consists of fat free, lite, non-dairy, cholesterol reducing, low sodium cardboard cut outs. Impostors. I put Vitamin D in my OJ because my dermatologist slathers me in SPF 40 while my regular doc says I can only get the D if I sit in the sun without it. Screwed. Up. Somewhere along the line this all got very screwed up.
Downsizing. Roll the clock back. Give me a regular sized candy bar. One. An original Toll House chocolate chip cookie. NOT a bag of fifty 100 calorie look a likes. Really? Really? You can eat just one of these little fakers and get a warm sugar buzz? Honestly?
So here it is.
My Bucket List.
Food for thought.
Food for the ages
- Good Humor Pink Lemonade bar.
- Hostess Cream Filled Cupcakes...the original recipe made with lard...break one open, scoop out the filling first, peel off the icing. Cake comes last as a chaser. Yes.
- Carm's Roosevelt Road Italian Beef Sandwich...dipped in simmering juices and rolled in white waxed paper, peppers an option.
- Vienna Hot Dog hysterically red, squeezed inside cow casings, boiled or steamed, wrapped in a poppy seed bun. One bite. It explodes in your face. Hah!
- Sara Lee Anything. The original Sara. No avatars please. Pound Cake...one slice sans toppings followed by the inevitable scraping of the bottom of the foil pan for the butter soaked crumbs.
- Finally. Fannie Mae Candies. Dark chocolate vanilla butter creams. 4 or 5 in a pristine white bag. Just enough to last during the lakefront stroll from Buckingham Fountain to the Shedd Aquarium.
So, all I ask, is, in the end, one or two days of advanced warning. Just long enough to book a flight home. My long ago home. A conscientious cabbie. Lights on the Fountain as the sun dips down over the lake. Fannie Mae in hand, I step off the end of Navy Pier. Once, I thought it might be hands up, atop the Comet in Riverview Park, but if I fulfill my list, the Lake can have me. Bucket and all.
...and for the uninformed, chocolate IS a food group!
...and life was pretty good before the world gave mothers a bad name and launched the food police