Friday, September 15
My Grandma Flo -- yes I really do have a Grandma Flo(rence) -- has kept a silver dish full of M&Ms on her living room coffee table for as long as I remember. Everytime I visit her, I take one step in the door and am swooped up in her warm, strong, powdered embrace. Then I tell her I need to get some of my "medicine."
11:00 a.m. M&Ms in hand, I retired with Grandma, who in her heyday was quite the looker and had a ricocheting laugh you could hear from several blocks away, to her den. We talked about how her parents, my Great-Grandma Rose and Great-Grandpa Dave, met in Prospect Park in Brooklyn. Grandma was born in New Jersey but lived in Florida before moving to Charleston, so her accent is a subtle mix of New Yawk speak and Southern drawl, peppered with Yiddish. She practiced the stories she'd tell about my Dad as a mischievous young'n at the surprise 60th birthday party that my Aunt and I had been feverishly planning for him.
2 p.m. Over a lunch of salmon and fried green tomato sandwiches at the Mustard Seed Cafe with Dad, my worry that he suspected something about the surprise party helped take my mind off my 10-year high school reunion that was to start in a few hours. The reunion provided a perfect cover for coming to Charleston for the weekend, although Dad asked repeatedly why Jon was coming in just for 24 hours and was missing half of the reunion.
Saturday, September 16
Noon: Jon arrived in Charleston exclaiming (as I knew he would) about the candy apples at Rocky Mountain Fudge, and we proceeded to the James Island County Park for part two of the reunion. The previous night consisted of cocktails and appetizers on a restaurant back porch, and was fun and relaxed. One girl in particular looked so good that people didn't recognize her, which, from watching movies like "Romy and Michelle," I thought was the opposite of what's supposed to happen. Not as many people as I'd expected are married with kids and living two houses down from their childhood homes, and people are doing interesting things too, from teaching ballroom dancing to building cabinets.
1 p.m. Jon had been disappointed that we weren't going to have time for his favorite Charleston fast food, BBQ from Melvin's, but as I had secretly suspected, the reunion committee read his mind and the afternoon in the park was catered by Melvin's. Before I came along, my Jersey boy had never tasted BBQ southern style. Melvin's uses an "Original Secret Sauce," which is mustard-based. Mustard is common in South Carolina BBQ, but I never knew why...
According to the South Carolina Barbeque Association, there are four styles of BBQ: vinegar and pepper, light tomato, heavy tomato, and mustard. South Carolina is the only state that is known for serving all four types. The mustard style is most commonly associated with South Carolina due to, who knew, S.C.'s German heritage. Apparently in the 1700s, the Brits in S.C. recruited German families to live there, and the mustard sauce can be traced directly to those settlers.
10 p.m. Like good Southerners, we ended our day at a friend's house listening to the screams over the Clemson/Carolina football game and rubbing our overstuffed bellies.
Coming up in Part Trois: My Dad gets the surprise of a lifetime.