In Which I Acquire a New Mom
Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where the music of November rain is in the air and life is one faerie fine drama! I'm your host, Anne Johnson. Today I'm weighing my chances of dieting in the balance and finding the odds against me.
I've got a new mom.
She's a Puerto Rican immigrant. She cooks comfort food like only a great mom can.
This year at the Vo-Tech I pulled a 6th period lunch. That's the lunch that all the "shop" teachers get. The only other academic teacher who has lunch that period is the Spanish teacher, whose family is mostly in Puerto Rico. This teacher is a graduate of the Vo-Tech who has really pulled herself up by sheer hard work and her deep faith in God.
Let me tell you, readers. When you see what this one young teacher can accomplish in a day, you've got to ask yourself why we would ever close our borders. I've never seen anyone with more energy in my life.
But it started out frosty between me and "Maria" this September. We sat together out of that unspoken rule that groups teacher with teacher, and secretary with secretary, and lunch lady with lunch lady. We just didn't talk. I would try to get Maria to converse, and she would answer as shortly as possible.
It occurred to me that news of my praise and worship team might have filtered back to her. I don't know -- I'm not secretive about it, but I don't broadcast it either. I sat with a good Methodist man all year last year without ever mentioning my own faith at all.
But I think what it must have been with Maria was just sort of shyness. Because one day we bonded over a bowl of black beans.
We get good lunches at the Vo-Tech because they have a Culinary Arts program. One of the signature dishes they serve is a Southwestern chicken soup that has black beans in it. This soup is a gift from the bored gods, that's all I can figure. It's that good.
On this particular day, Maria was painstakingly picking each and every black bean out of her soup. Some of the secretaries were teasing her about it -- how can someone from Puerto Rico not like beans? She laughed and said her father never did either.
I can relate. Mr. Johnson's grandmother, born and raised in Baltimore, never ate a crab. Imagine that!
Long story short, I swapped my french fries for Maria's beans, and that turned out to be magic.
Ever since then, we've been swapping the portions of our lunches that we don't like. Starting last week, Maria began giving me tastes of the home-cooked food her mom makes. Starting this week, Maria has been bringing in enough lunch for both of us, hand-cooked by her mama.
Ah, comfort food, comfort food! Meat and potatoes, steaming hot leftovers from the microwave, cooked by Mom! And now Maria and I are fast friends. I want to be her sister.
Bottom line of this sermon: Never, EVER underestimate the magic of home cooking by Mom. It is the most powerful elixir in the universe. Proof that the bored gods love us and want us to be happy.