My FIL took me out to dinner Tuesday night.
I got home from work about 6:30 pm on Tuesday, and my MIL was working, so it was just Dad and I. He took me to Walt’s.
Walt’s is a local hamburger/Mexican joint (only in Kansas) on the corner of the 2 main roads in town. It looks like it’s been there forever, and I’m pretty sure it has. As soon as we walked in, Dad recognized and greeted a couple people sitting down eating dinner. We walked to the counter where we could choose our meal from a huge board that sported such things as: hamburgers, salads, tacos, burritos and fries. Dad chose a fajita (which pretty much looked like a burrito), and I decided on the taco salad (which didn’t look very Mexican, but it tasted pretty good).
When our food came, we prayed and dug in. The girl had asked me if I wanted it hot or mild, and I chose hot since I figured these Kansans don’t know what hot is. Hot meant that they put jalapenos on my salad, which did add a little warmth. I mentioned to my FIL that one of my former employees, who is Indian, had made some spicy rice for us, and how much we liked it, but the peppers wreaked havoc on our systems.
I think that is what triggered the stories about India and "the choking incident".
My FIL has traveled to the jungles of India twice on missions trips – both times in the 1970’s. He has amazing stories about his trips, and they usually involve humor, as well. I’ve heard some of them, but I never tire of hearing them again or learning new things. Dad is a great storyteller…he takes his time, waits for your reaction, and plods right through the details (which I have complete confidence are absolutely true). He has most of his stories captured in letters to my MIL, and I think he should type them up and publish a book. I would buy it!
I think the story that caused my choking fit had to do with tigers and bicycles. Some jungle men (wearing little else besides a string and a handkerchief – Dad’s description) came to one of their meetings and asked that they go and speak to their people. They lived out in the jungle, so the best way to get there was to ride a bike – more efficient than walking since a car couldn’t make it on the small roads. Their guide asked Dad’s partner if he could right a bike. The partner said yes, got on the bike, rode a few yards, and promptly fell off. The guide decided that the partner should stay, so Dad set out with the guide and the interpreter. The jungle is dark, so they carried a lantern that was powered by pedaling the bike.
At some distance into the jungle, the guide made everyone stop. He told them that he could smell there was something dead in the jungle, and that meant that a tiger was probably near by. Tigers like to chase and eat things that are moving quickly – even if they’re not hungry, so the guide recommended that they get off their bikes and walk them through the jungle. Well, that’s all fine and good, but remember that lantern? Well, it doesn’t put out any light if you’re walking your bike! So, now they’re wandering through the jungle, in the dark, pushing a bike…because there is a tiger close by!
So, I burst out laughing. Obviously Dad came out of it ok since he’s sitting across from me, so it was ok to laugh…but it wasn’t ok to INHALE a piece of my taco salad shell. I began to cough like a mad woman…I couldn’t breathe, or talk or laugh. After a few minutes, I finally regained my composure.
Dad sat patiently across from me, making sure that he didn’t need to perform the Heimlich maneuver (he is an ambulance driver), and he started up his story once he was convinced I could handle it.
After dinner, he took me on a driving tour of Small Town, Kansas. We drove past the new high school (which didn’t open until WAY after B graduated). We drove by all the schools B did go to, past the City Hall, the library, the Fire Station (where Dad moonlights), the mortuary (where Mom works), and the house where B spent a lot of time growing up. We saw kids riding bikes, moms pushing strollers, and we heard the hum of the cicadas. I felt like we were driving through a Norman Rockwell painting.
It was a great evening.