When laughter latches on, for just a moment, to women, it posses more power than any gaffaw or rowdy giggle from men. A secret world exists, one of a secret glee that lasts forever, at which in the same moment everything and nothing is funny.
I experienced this moment with my friend Brianna and a woman we met named Tia, the co-owner of Mel’s, a walk up soul food diner in Charlottesville (C’ville) Virginia. We were speaking of bagels and Tia recalled a cinnamon raisin bagel she ate a while back,
“Last Monday. Was it Monday?” We watched her play with the passing days in her mind. “Yeah, I ate a delicious cinnamon raisin bagel on Monday.”
“Oh, so yesterday,” I said. We all erupted with laughter and a moment existed where three women, one standing in her apron and two seated at a plastic table with red checked cloth wiped tears from their eyes.
While looking over the menu, and with the help of Tia, we decided on the basics of drumstick and breasts, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and sweet tea. When we told Tia it was our first Soul Food experience, us being from the West and having no more than K.F.C, she replied,
“What kinda food y’all got then?”
What it lacked in ayurvedic principals, veganism and food pyramid following, it made up in taste and satisfaction. Crunchy breaded chicken, peppered slaw and revamped Kraft macaroni made our best and cheapest meal that week. Sweet potato pie (not as sweet as the sweet tea) came after; it was smooth and creamy and a tier above anything pumpkin. The crust wasn’t homemade, a fact Brianna and I would normally poo-poo, but after the friendliness of Tia and the satisfaction of our full bellies we merely pointed out the fact, not loving it any less.
We crossed the bridge over the tracks that run through Charolottesville, Virginia, giggling and giddy. Was it the laughter still lingering from our little stolen moment with Tia? Was it the slap happy exhaustion we felt from a day well spent? Perhaps it was our letting go of diet and rules, vegetarian guilt and calorie counting and allowing ourselves to be well fed, nourished, satisfied to the soul. Perhaps it was such a good meal at a pleasing price.
Or perhaps it was a sugar high from Tia’s Sweet Tea.