Last night I was mesmerized into thinking of old days.
My mom scooped up everyone she recognized into her plan du jours. From the time I introduced her to the Burton Fire Department’s annual pancake breakfast, it was her pancake breakfast, and we could count on it being the plan du jour some Sunday, some March.
When my oldest daughter, Beth, went to college, it was essentially on the same plan as I used. Once on campus, don’t go home. She picked the same school, Case, but I never went home, and finished in three years. She never came home, either, but she was sidetracked by working.
By her second year Beth abandoned the dorm, moved in with her boyfriend and his five roommates. This motley crew, together with her regulars, were herded by mom to the Burton Fire Department’s annual pancake breakfast in 1983. For the record, mom’s regulars were the beloved cornmudgeon, my brother, Walt, his three boys, ages twelve and down, my daughters Beth and Shelly, Mom and me.
And, for the record, the college boys with Beth were Rich, Jimmy, John, Tim, Fred and Pat. Pat is now our very own Pat who is married to my dear friend Ann, who I visit in Wisconsin as often as possible. I remind Ann I knew Pat before she did and she asks why did I not warn her. We love Pat, too. In fact, he is a crux of this story.
College fellows, young boys and Walt being bottomless, the all-you-can-eat servers were pretty much assembled at our table. “Table” is misleading; we sat for many feet along several tables assembled end to end. Eventually there was a server behind Walt, one behind Fred, one behind Pat. They took the pancakes from runners and refilled the three afore mentioned plates.
Age took its toll; Walt said he must back out. Fred looked Pat dead in the eye and announced, “It’s a throw down between you and me, friend.” Pancakes kept coming. People for tables around were involved. Sides were chosen. Cheers went up when one took more pancakes. “Pat, Pat, Pat!” and “Fred, Fred, Fred!” filled the hall.
Pat was cute, but Fred was cuter. Like every cool guy in ’83, Fred's hair was long and curly and tangled. He wore the right, nerdy engineer glasses and a week old dirty shirt. He beat Pat’s crew cut hands down, regardless of the age of Pat’s sweat shirt. And his server passed him reject, tiny pancakes. Pat’s server slipped the plate sized, oversized numbers. I’m sure the Pat and Fred shouts resonated in the kitchen, too, and the chefs were discriminatory in what went on each platter for the servers.
It went on and on and on, pancake for pancake, until Pat’s fork crashed to his plate. His eyes were glazed. His lips murmured “I have stomach lock.” Fred held his fork on high, and said nothing.
It was a fine day.
Beth, probably 18