A Day At Col. Sanders’ Place

IMG_1273My wife celebrated her birthday last Friday, the 26th— with daughters two and a grandson.  Theirs was a fantastic celebration, with fantastic spaghetti, a cake and other goodies. I wasn’t there. Just told them that all I wanted was the icing and could they please send it by the fastest carrier?

With the whole of me missing terribly the better half of me, I decided there is no better way to cope than to do it with a bash, indulge too, with my self for company. I never hesitated believing for a moment that a cake, even as big as Robinson Crusoe’s head, was not good for this occasion. You may need candles, and planting 61 burning solid waxes in honor of the spouse who is absent on top of a cake that big—or that small, whatever—may be unthinkable, to say the least. If you are now as old as I am, you may insist too that a cake is a remnant of childishness that we have left behind, that being childish at 63 is not only contrary to nature, it is also against reality— even if the heart wants it, the wallet does not.

So what did I have? Coffee. Went to Bo’s at the Ayala Terraces. Here’s this establishment that made coffee both a business pleasure and an institution. And as I often would do when the occasion asks for it, I gently pushed my senior’s ID toward the lady. The brew cost me P60. Not bad. I ensconced myself on the sofa beside the glassed wall where you could catch a view of lives—those busying themselves with affairs mundane and not so mundane, and those who were there because they had nothing else to do. I was near the door; preparedness, as in emergency cases, too is a way to make do in this dog-eat-dog world.

And there I was, making idealism work to my advantage. Coffee is best when its tangy bitterness lasts a while. Savor that moment with an e-load of a hundred pesos, and pour out your longings—the lady you married 37 years ago is at the end of the line. Make that call last and never mind if your cup of Arabica gets cold.

Having sipped the last drop of my coffee, I came to a decision that a day of joy too needed perfection. I went over to Col. Sanders’ place. They no longer had that chicken worth P60; I instead got that chicken that is as soft as my heart, with a bowl of soup and boiled potatoes topped with margarine. Plus a KFC brownie.

And as you eat you may reminisce Col. Sanders’ story, how Kentucky Fried came about.  This one’s from Paul Harvey. One afternoon, Harvey wrote, Col. Sanders (he was not really a colonel but a sargeant), hero of the Spanish-American war in Cuba, retired, and now divorced, was hiding behind some sagebrush, waiting for his daughter to come out. He was not thinking about having just one look at the little girl he had been missing; he was thinking of the worst—to kidnap her, take her by force from his wife’s custody.  So he sat behind that bush waiting for the opportunity.

Well. Paul Harvey never told us if the little Sanders girl came out that day. A decision that bad would surely land Col. Sanders in jail. What Paul Harvey said was that the colonel had cold sweat. And a change of heart.

The colonel thought to improve his lot, so that opportunities would open many doors to him. With the hundred-twenty-dollar check he had just received as pension, he acquired some pans and casseroles, and bought some chickens, broiled them according to the recipe that he had invented, and sold them. People liked his chicken flavored with secret herbs and came asking for more, and with more orders came more cash. Col. Sanders started a restaurant, and became very rich. We never know what became of the wife, but I assume that Col. Sanders later was reunited with the daughter of his love.

Now, you have heard the rest of the story— of a frustrated kidnapper who went into chicken business, and made good. That’s Col. Sanders. Ever faithful to his ideal as a father, fought his way in the world, struggled with his human weakness, but in the end had to do what’s right. And as I was munching Sander’s original recipe, I thought of this great lesson. My kids and my wife were not with me. But Dioly knows that I imagine her to be always around.

Not far from me I saw this American, a missionary, who definitely does not belong to our group. I saw him once. I know he’s married, his wife too a daughter of an American missionary. But the lady he is with is definitely not her. The American and the Filipino lady he is with are “into” it already.

What do you do in circumstances like this? This is no time to play John the Baptist castigating Herod for his philandering. No, it’s not Col. Sanders’ chicken that made me chicken; “delicadeza” did. If you have a lot of this, you may wait for the opportune time. That day at Col. Sanders’ place is definitely not the time.  I took one last glimpse of the couple. The man might regain his memory—and recognize me, so I hurriedly left, my chicken unfinished.

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