Chewing the Fat

Some idioms never die for good reason. This is one of those.

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We sit here, four of us, jawboning about nothing much; no wives, no wireless and no worries. We’re just waiting until it’s time for the real thing.

We have abandoned the tyranny of urgent, the tedium of tweets and the daily dose of our own get-in-the-way details. We’re just passing the time, shooting the breeze of idle chatter, drifting this way and that like a rudderless old dingy going nowhere. It will be time soon enough.

Such laid-back convocations don’t happen often enough. Culture has tainted the concept, defining it as ‘wasting time.’ It was such stupidity that did away with front-porch rockers. Inane TV programming is its replacement.

No group is comfortable with silence. It makes the air heavy. So our tongues soon begin to wag, beating the air with something, anything. Usually a joke. You know the kind, the ones where the laugh meter is flat-lined and the only comments are an assault on the jokester’s character.

Such is the way with men—find one chink in the armor of defense and mount a vigorous assault. All in fun, of course. It has a way of breaking up the logjam of banal banter so what’s really important will float to the surface. And today, everyone’s licking their lips in anticipation.

Men with time on their hands find a lot to discuss. Dogs are good subjects. A man can remember more details about the life of his dog than he can about anything else, except maybe his embellished and highly-polished collegiate exploits. Some memories, like idioms, never die; they’re embalmed with hyperbole and entombed in caricature.

The list of open-forum ideas is endless, ranging from motorcycles to mud wrestling, cars to football, aches and pains flesh is heir to, which body parts work, which don’t. Then there’s golf. I dismiss the golf subject summarily, because first of all, it’s my office we’re in, and more importantly, golf is horribly boring. Plus, it’s the source all the world’s boredom.

I suggest a discussion on ‘nomophobia,’ the fear of not being connected to the world by cell phone. It gets nowhere. I then offer up something creative, like ‘first thoughts.’ Someone asks, “Is it time to go yet?”

Then someone else mentions ‘politics.’ Opinions fly, vitriol spurts, no holds barred, character is assassinated and consensus is out of the question. Turmoil ensues.

Another one pipes up, “Ok, ‘first kiss.” That hits a nerve. A thoughtful peace permeates the place. We’re all thinking: with whom, when, where?

I knew right off, like it was yesterday. I break the silence. “My grandmother,” I blurt out. “Her kiss had the distinct taste of Tums.”

 Instantly my armor is pierced; I’m attacked from all sides. “Explains why you went sideways,” says one. “Still are,” chimes in another. The last one shoves the dagger in deeper, “Probably the best you could do.”

 I’m tempted to mention my second experience but after the beating I just took, I think the better of it. Still, it’s pleasant to recall it. It happened on a Saturday afternoon during a Roy Rogers matinee. It was the first time my tongue touched someone else’s. But not the last. But I let it slide.

Everyone it seems has similar first experiences with the ‘kissing’ subject and nobody was talking much about any subsequent ones.  Everyone knows that kisses are doors to boudoirs, and tongues have uses other than talking. It’s a personal but sacrosanct subject.

A lively debate centers on who first recorded “Blue Suede Shoes.” One says Chuck Berry, a totally unintelligent response.  Another swears it was Elvis. Close, but no cigar.  Even one suggests it was Jerry Lee. But since I have a pair of them, I knew: Carl Perkins.

Tongue-wagging has time limits. The end of ‘shootin’ the bull’ is at hand when bathroom breaks break up the continuity. Besides, we were all glued to our wrist watches now. The time to go had almost arrived.

Finally, someone yells, “Time to go, boys.” Nobody needs prodding. A resounding “Yes” rings the final bell. We’d run off at the mouth enough. Besides, we all had something more important on our mind the whole time.

* * *

So off we go, drawn to what’s called in the South a ‘sho-nuff’ opportunity to chew the fat off of some smoked BBQ pork ribs.


Bud Hearn

June 24, 2022