At least twice a year when I was growing up we drove to Houston to visit my uncle and his family.
My mother’s younger brother was a claims adjustor for Allstate who carried a pistol he named ‘Luther’ under the driver’s seat of his car. He could drive you around Houston better than anybody I’ve ever known. I loved riding in the car with him, even though it was scary at times because he got mad at other drivers, but when I was a kid it felt almost as good as the Big Ben roller coaster at Six Flags.
I loved the way he could zoom in and out of traffic on highways that were stacked on top of each other and know exactly where he was going. And he never went anywhere slowly.
When Uncle Bud first moved down there in the sixties, we went to see all the tourist attractions. We even went to an Astros game at the Astrodome, when it was brand new and the parking attendants dressed up like astronauts.
I always loved going to see Uncle Bud and playing with my cousin, Mary Ann, who was just a year older, and her two brothers who were quite a bit older than us. Mostly they just teased us or told us ghost stories and scared us half to death. But my oldest cousin, Buddy, taught me how to make farting noises under my arm.
My uncle always fixed a great breakfast when we were there, but one morning, when Mary and I were in junior high and got up much later than the rest of the family, he fixed breakfast just for the two of us. Like most adolescent girls still in pajamas and wishing the entire world would go away, we were in no mood to be heckled that morning.
That didn’t stop him.
He decided to play the greasy truck stop fry cook to the hilt.
In a truck stop that any respectable health department would shut down.
Wearing a filthy apron, and while wiping his nose, or scratching his head or digging in his ear, in his best redneck voice, he proceeded to pepper us with questions like,
“You folks travelin’ or goin’ somewhere?”
“Well, what brung y’all ‘to these parts?’”
“How did you two little ladies want them eggs?”
Then he went back over to the stove and started cooking, still scratching and wiping his nose with his apron in between burps, purely for our benefit.
We had to act completely disgusted, but neither one of us could keep from laughing.
And nobody could make a better breakfast.
Except maybe his sisters.
Or his mom.
Happy Birthday, Uncle Bud.