Opinion Columns & Blogs

HARMON: Fuzzy burger and family

I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but I have a feeling America is losing a lot of households where there’s a mom and a dad present. Maybe I feel this way because of television or the fact that I come into contact with women who are raising children by themselves and men who are raising children by themselves or two women raising a child or two men raising a child and grandparents raising everyone.

There are, of course, women who are raising the men they married, but that’s nothing new. While there may be advantages to this sort of societal situation, I would prefer that a mom and a dad raise a child and figure out a way to stay together. Call me crazy. Well, stuff happens and sometimes folks just cannot stay together. Some say whatever makes us feel good about ourselves cannot be bad and a family can be anything a family wants to be. Who could argue with that? And I would hope that no one would argue that families are indeed an important part of our American way of life. But I digress.

I want to talk about a family I know and how we manage to stay together in spite of incidents, such as the fuzzy burger, which would tear some families asunder. And while some families might find it difficult to sit down and eat a meal together, that’s not us. We were together on this perfect spring day for hamburgers, hotdogs and fun. Three families who appreciated the importance of staying together, being there for each other and overlooking any hairy “shortcomings” the other members might have brought to the table.

My sister-in-law had married a wonderful older man and the cookout was being held at their newly renovated home in the historic district. He was a good cook, loved cooking for the family and had a beloved cat who slept on the screened in porch where the grill also stayed. I have no idea where my sister-in-law’s husband kept his reading glasses. He liked to be alone with his cooking, preferring to surprise us on occasion with a delicious meal of grilled meats, peppers, tomatoes and onions, all on a sesame seed bun. And so, on this day, as a family dedicated to family and all that entails, we sat for one of uncle Bob’s presentations via paper plates, and Solo cups.

I will admit to having a “drink” or two, and as it turned out, it was a blessing. Uncle Bob blessed his offering as I and the rest of the family sat at the table, plastic forks in hand, saliva flowing like wine, anticipating a wonderful meal. The blessing included references to family, that all important structure necessary for the security of liberty in today’s world.

The meal was typical Southern cuisine consisting of slaw, sweet tea, potato salad, baked beans, and of course, Uncle Bob’s offering of hamburgers and hotdogs. I sat next to my sweet wife who was next to Uncle Bob. When I heard the words, “Would you like a hamburger, dear,” I felt like kneeling at the altar of Saint Food. I knew it was going to be good. She slipped a red, round, medium well on my sesame seed bun and tears welled up in my eyes. So thankful for family, for just being there, together, on a wonderful day in America.

She cupped her burger as well and our eyes met as we bit into what can only be described as ... a fuzzy burger. The ham had left the building and in its place was a layer of white cat hair so thick the burger looked as though it had come from the freezer with a case of frostbite. We had about two seconds, eyeball to eyeball, to think about Uncle Bob, family, the nearest Solo cup and that damned cat.

She went for the Solo cup and swallowed. I mumbled something about the bathroom and left the table. Now I have no idea what the others at the table were eating. Surely someone had a hotdog. But no one said a word about the fur on the burgers, mainly out of respect for the cook. Families are important and we need to do all we can to keep them together. If that means swallowing a little cat hair, I’m sure my wife was more than happy to do it.

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.