I burn for you

For every couple, there is a story. Ask your parents, your grandparents, your co-workers, your friends. Whether they’re newly married, long wed, dating around or wistfully remembering relationships of the past, I’ll bet there’s an abundance of good stories about How We Met.

In the case of my parents, we’re back to McDonald’s.

Golden arches!

The time: the late 1950s. The place: Hike’s Point, Louisville, Ky. The cast of characters: my father, the French Fry Boy; my Uncle Bruce, future McDonald’s baron of Northern Kentucky, and my mother, She Who Would be Fixed Up.

Back then, as now, mostly, the house that Kroc built was staffed by young people; in those halcyon days, though, the staff was exclusively teenage boys. You’ve seen the photos, probably; crew-cuts topped by paper hats. Think Goldie Wilson, aspiring mayor, from Back to the Future.

I grew up listening to stories about this old-timey french-fryer my father manned; here no fancy newfangled timer was available to dear old Dad. No, he stationed himself there at this antiquated beast, all senses keenly attuned to the condition of the spuds bathing dangerously in animal fat. Poised and ready to — the moment they reached golden perfection —  snatch them from their tallowized inferno, shake, rattle ‘n’ roll them, ultimately flinging them into the drainer where they would acquire the exact level of salty goodness required to create The Perfect Fry.

Just what Uncle Bruce saw in this man, this teenage potato czar, that made him think my dad would be a good match for his sister, I suppose I’ll never know. Was it the dedication he brought to his fryer, the patience he mustered to turn out the crispy goldens on the basis of his skill and knowledge alone? Was it the fact that he was Catholic, attending Bellarmine College and a serious young man — a perfect match for his bookish and bespeckled sister?

Perhaps one day I’ll grill Mom about it. Grill. Ha!

At any rate, I love to think back on the innocence of the time period, the poodle skirts my mother wore, the appalling shortness of my dad’s crew cut. As I grew older, so McDonald’s grew in popularity and at some point, became firmly entrenched in the American psyche. How lovely it was to know that it was the McDonald’s French fry, that most tasty and desired of treats, that brought my parents together — and me into the world.

What brought my husband, Tras, and I together was a bit more complex, nuanced and sprinkled with, instead of salt, humor and pathos. Not unlike many steam-soaked tales of Southern decadence, or maybe accounts of Southern politics a la All the King’s Men (what is it with me and Robert Penn Warren lately?) our joining can be traced back to the Kentucky State Capitol, election night and live television.

I work at a public television station, and until a couple of years ago, I was a writer and associate producer in our production division. These days I toil in the marketing vineyard, squeezing the juice from our agency and fermenting it, as it were, for the masses.

But then, as was the case for most everyone in Production, Election Night found us in one of a number of locations around the state, up to and including the Capitol itself.

It’s an unlikely setting for the birth of a romance and frankly it took another several years for the two of us to even know that’s where it all began. Because it began not with doe-eyes across the tabulated election returns, but with some coolness and insults and a touch of embarrassment — it’s a story worth telling, considering how low-key and in sync we are with one another today, nearly six years hence.

It’s a story I’ll have to tell you one day. Tomorrow good for you?

There’s really nothing like a good love story. Pioneer Woman wrote one — and it took her 40 chapters and nearly a year to complete. I promise you, this won’t take nearly as long.

One thought on “I burn for you

  1. I worked an election night for KET in 1995 when I was an associate producer (but you knew that), Republican headquarters out at the Marriott, and met Michael Moore, who just happened to be staying there passing through Kentucky. Got a picture of me with him around here somewhere. Just another tale of TV election nights bringing people together.

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