Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras


Fat Tuesday reminds me of my granny. I don’t know how it started, but way back when I was just out of high school, she and I started going to fish fry dinners during Lent. Mind you, we’re not Catholic; we just liked getting out and seeing the different places. We continued this tradition until her death a few years ago.
At first, most of the family went and we just went to the dinners at one church in a neighboring town. The food was consistently good and we saw lots of people we knew. As those dinners gained in popularity, we had to wait in line. Besides that, their prices went up, which was a problem for my grandma. So, we branched out to other fish fry venues. That’s when we lost most of the other family members.
It became a “thing” for us to go to a different place every Friday. I’d arrive at her house after work, and she’d be ready to go (you could tell because she was wearing lipstick), pouring over the “Fish Fries” notices in the newspaper. “Here’s one in Monroe,” she start. “That’s a long way for fish, I s’pose . . .” she’d trail off, trying to get a feel for my willingness to travel. Me? I have no boundaries! She quickly learned that nowhere was too far for me. Yet, she never picked the place before I arrived. We always discussed our options and came to a mutual decision.
In six weeks a year, after a few years, we stormed through our Michigan county, Toledo and its suburbs, Monroe, and everywhere in between. We expanded to include veterans’ posts. In doing so, we traded dessert at the churches for beer at the posts – quite a decision. Every time we went to a new church, she needed to sneak a peek into the auditorium. Often, we’d have a drop-in guest – my sister, my mom, a cousin – since everyone knew that, come Friday, we would be going to a fish fry. Usually, though, it was just the two of us.
The fish fries were just the beginning of our church dinners. Soon, we attended them anywhere, although not with the regularity of the Lenten fish fries. Yet, in the last few years, the Fat Tuesday pancake supper at my grandma’s own church became a tradition.
I don’t go to fish fries anymore. I’d be willing to, if somebody else wanted to, but not every week during Lent. It’s funny, I really enjoyed them and I could easily keep attending them, but I think our dates were more about spending time with each other than eating dinner.
I’m blessed with such great memories.

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