“Honest, I wasn't trying to start something. But hey, since I did...”
The table at the back of Chick's Barbecue in Lightning, Nevada attracts everyone, from locals to traveling sales folks, to the occasional clergy even. Besides being in a corner so you had two chairs to sit in so your back could be to a wall, the tablecloth is almost iconic: red and white checkered.
Chick Clanton presides over the joint and enjoys a good laugh, even at his own expense.
Bored and actually kind of blue, since Mary Kaye was out of town at a conference, I claimed the table early one afternoon and ordered a plate of brisket with fries and beans. While I was waiting, I waxed a wee bit lyrical - I say “a wee bit” for reasons that should become apparent – and penned on the tablecloth the following verses.
Beans, oh barbecue beans
What inspiration you inspire
To a fella of lowliest means
Your bounteous assets I admire.
Down am I just now on my luck
But cheap beans in the tank
Of my half-ton truck
I'll smile all the way to the bank.
See, I did warn you. I think it was about that time that my food arrived and I forgot my halfhearted ditty. Chick twisted his neck around and looked at my desecration of his tablecloth. He chuckled, shook his head and walked away.
Two days later, Mary Kaye still out of town, I frequented the same table.
To fella of lowliest means and down on his luck:
Tell me please the way you go to your bank
For I fear to follow your half-ton truck
As for miles all around we'd say everything stank.
“Getting a small following, Carl”, grinned Chick on my third visit that week.
To fella and friend
Fella, to my way of thinking you might have
hit upon an idea - (I refuse to rhyme)
With our economy in the proverbial ditch
Could be your beans proposal might just
make you rich – and me too.
Another afternoon brought the first of my critiques.
To fella and your follower laureates
Rhyme or not in your weak composition
Don't compare yourselves to W. B. Yeats
T' would be a most grave imposition.
My friend Jay caught me on the street. “You've got a whole blog going on that tablecloth. Did you see the one from the salesman who left his phone number and asked you to call him?”
“No, and I heard I got a couple of anonymous proposals too.”
“The teacher was back. This time she brought a red pen and corrected everyone's grammar and spelling.”
Chick started hinting at charging for space on his tablecloth.
A long-haul trucker scrawled a protest.
A fella down to his beans
Ain't got the bread nor the means
So the ladies looking for
a real man
The tablecloth was famous. Chick enjoyed the extra business.
Finally, there was this one.
The greatest of all destinations
Needs no making of new innovations
Faith the mode, the fuel and the path
To a treasure made all eternity to last.
“Hey Carl, Chick says you got an invitation.”
“Your tablecloth – your blog.”
Oh, oh. Which one of the proposals would be waiting? Or would it be the salesman?
Curious, I headed to Chick's at the appointed time.
The lovely red-head was unexpected, and extremely tempting.
“Hey, fella – you're famous. I was curious.”
I sat down next to her and draped an arm across her shoulders.
“It's good to see you home Mary Kaye – really good!”
“I guess so if this is what happens when I leave – seriously, inspiration you inspire?” laughed my wife,
“Well now you're home I may have better insp...”
Her lips on mine prevented my corny comeback, thankfully.
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