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as reported by Paul Hillis

This column expresses the personal opinions/views of the writer. If you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column, write a SIGNED letter to the editor. Name can be withheld by request with a valid day time and phone number.

As I walk across the parking lot of the Eatemup, I realize how cold it is. Okay, so itís not Cleveland, Ohio or Dearborn, Michigan cold, but itís pretty cold for Stafford, Texas. This is not why I moved here. I want it warm. Not hot. Not cold. Just warm thank you.

Alright, so thereís no ice forming over water puddles or hanging from the elevated electrical lines. And my nose, ears, and cheeks wonít freeze, but it still feels cold to me. I know I should be wearing my heavy coat and even my gloves, but Iím sure people would laugh at me. I donít need any more people laughing at me.

Just going through the door of the Eatemup and feeling the welcoming warmth flood over me cheers my body and soul. The warmth must work for everybody because thereís a murmur of conversation and laughter flowing from the various booths.

Nothing like outside where itís cold and everyone walks with their head down trying to protect themselves from the wind. I had been told when I first immigrated to Texas the wind here was the laziest in the world. I asked why. Seems like the wind was too lazy to go around you it just went through you.

As I slide into the seat beside Eddie, he kinda leaned back toward the window giving me the, "I donít believe you" look. "Why are you looking at me like that?" I asked checking various areas of my clothes to make sure there are no zippers not zipped that should be. I wonder if Iíve got something on my face left over from breakfast. Quickly running my hand over my cheeks and mouth I donít feel what may be construed as left over food.

"I was just watching you as you walked across the lot, and you look like you should be in Fargo," answered Eddie. "It has to be in the high forties out there. Thatís above zero, not below. Iím surprised youíre not wearing one of your old Air Force parkaís with the mukluks to beat off the cold."

"Hey, Iím sensitive. What can I say?" I respond. "Itís hard to believe I used to walk to school in the dead of winter in Ohio, and it didnít seem this cold. I remember combing my hair with just water, and it would freeze. Then after a few minutes in the school house, that ice on my head would melt, and Iíd have streams of water running down my head."

"Donít start with me about how bad you had it as a kid," said Eddie. "Most of us old guys had it pretty tough. I donít know anyone growing up at that time that lived in the lap of luxury. In fact, most of us were so poor we couldnít even pay attention. If we got a second hand pair of shoes that didnít have holes in them, we thought they were new."

"You wore hand me down shoes?" I questioned. Immediately I felt stupid. Knowing that Eddie had spent most of his youth during the depression on a farm in Arkansas, I should have known there was little money to spare for new shoes. It was more important to have food and a place to live.

"Yeah, when we could getíem," said Eddie thoughtfully. "Shoes were for wearing in the winter. As soon as it got warm enough, we would go barefoot. It was pretty hard on the feet each spring, but we got used to it. I tell Ďya it was those bib overhauls I didnít like. We seldom had a shirt to wear and we would get pretty sunburned. But we survived and most of us went on to bigger and better things."

About that time Tiny walked in and slid into his seat. "What, no LeRoy yet?" he asked. "You guys look like you were in some pretty serious conversation when I came in. You talking about Iraq?"

"Not really" I answered. "More like North Dakota. Where it freezes in June and people run around without shoes and walk three miles to school in two feet of snow, and itís up hill both ways. You know like that."

"Well, thank God itís not like that here," responded Tiny. "Say, isnít it nice out today? I started to wear my jacket, but it was just too warm."

Just then LeRoy walked in removing his coat on his way to the booth. As he slid in on his side he said, "Whew, its cold out there." See. Peace.

To talk to Eddie, Tiny, or LeRoy E-mail: 

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   Last Update:  September 17, 2003