Frederick Beuchner, in his autobiography, I think talks about a childhood memory of grilled cheese sandwiches. He says in typically common language something like, "...the grilled cheese sandwiches were as hot and limp as a dead bird in summer." What a picture! As you hold the buttery thing in your hand, it sort of drapes over your fingers.
I'm not really supposed to be eating things with that much fat in them. Cheese and butter, basically the same thing with different processing, are something like 100% fat. The other night when I came home to my sick family, every one of them down with the flu, Melinda had made the ultimate comfort food. Grilled cheese sandwiches (hot and limp...) and tomato soup. She was having trouble standing upright, her illness working against her like gravity from every direction, but not at once. So an easy meal it was.
As I sat down alone, I'd arrived after dinner with this crazy work load heavier than usual, and took a bite of that sandwich dipped in the hot orange soup. Intellectually, I know that meal cost something like $1.50. But there in my mouth, and near those nerve endings in my brain that produce dopamine, I might as well have been at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
That's when it hit me, I even said it out loud, "You know, grilled cheese is highly under-rated". There's something about that cheese melted and combined with the crunchy buttered toast that rivals some of the best, most expensive meals I've ever had. Of course I'd rather spend a buck-fifty than fifty bucks on a meal...barring the atmosphere. There's always something to be said for ambiance of a high priced restaurant and romantic candle-light.
As usual, there's more to this. I started to dig a little deeper here, as is typical these days and here's what I found. The world is full of common people, and I mean full. The "uncommon" ones (on both ends of the spectrum between repulsive and magnetic), take up about a slice of cheese in all of Wisconsin. When I learned recently that Tom Cruise's baby is supposed to be the reincarnated founder of Scientology, there was no more clearer picture of cheddar in search of one slice of Wendsleydale.
But there we are; most of us individually overlooked by some standard we, none of us really like. Admit it, there are times you've dismissed a person you hardly know, but judged to be of common worth. What's worse is when one person degrades another, presses them down with expectations and openly judges them to be of common, or not of any worth. What an injustice when one of us tramples the common beauty and serenity of another. Even in the name of Christ, I've seen men expect and demand perfection of their wives and lovers. I've been guilty of it too.
It's not until I, hungry for comfort and the beauty in the surprise of what is ordinary, surrender to the heady perfection of love, loyalty, friendship, kindness, joy and peace among other things, that I can be truly fulfilled. What was I thinking? The fancy steak surrounded by porcelain white space and garnished with roast vegetables, sprinkled lightly with balsalmic and herbs just doesn't compare with the buck-fifty treasure on my own table.
The crime is when we never notice, and continue to believe that prime cuts are somehow more valuable. Where did that "standard" even come from? So. A toast.
"Here's to you, may you be known as the perfect meal, may those who take you in, lean back in their chair as you roil over their senses and may you be love, loyalty, friendship, kindness, joy and peace among other things." Hot and limp as a dead bird in summer... that's us. Common and desirable and confident to be what we are, even in a world of false expectations and ridiculous demands.
Down the hatch.