The King’s Kitchen

The King’s Kitchen.

Yesterday, I met a friend for lunch in Uptown Charlotte. We had been trying to get together for some time, but something always came up. I have a daughter who is a senior in high school, and my friend has three kids…real life sometimes just gets in the way of fun. But we didn’t give up. This friend is one of those friends who “fills my cup,” so it is important to me to make time to see her. She and I had totally different upbringings in different cultures, but we share a bond. We truly enjoy each other.

The last time we were able to have lunch together, we met at a restaurant in the SouthPark area of Charlotte. I remember it well, because she called me before she arrived and told me her zipper had broken in her dress, and she had no idea how she could walk into the restaurant to meet me. I said, “Well, I have a ‘pleather’ Top Gun jacket in my car you could put on over your dress, if if wouldn’t embarrass you.” The jacket is a costume piece I purchased for an event earlier this year, and I just happened to have it in my car. She laughed and said that, if I would bring the jacket to her at her car, she would be happy to wear it just so we could dine together! Who knew a Top Gun pleather jacket could look so good with a yellow dress?! We are a lot alike in that we are low maintenance with a good sense of humor. We laughed and laughed about that pleather jacket!

I had picked the restaurant last time, so this time, it was her turn. Apparently, she did her research and ultimately picked The King’s Kitchen. I had dined there a few times before, but it had been a while. They serve southern cuisine, so I was excited she picked it!

She found better parking than I did when she arrived, so she got there a few minutes early and already had a table when I arrived. We gave each other big hugs, and she had a bottle of Contesse Prosecco waiting…and two glasses waiting, ready to be filled!

And when we started talking, we talked about the restaurant. I knew it was a nonprofit started by Jim Noble (he has outstanding restaurants in North Carolina), and I knew it had some sort of outreach ministry for the homeless. What I didn’t know is that Mr. Noble is an ordained minister and holds a Bible study for the homeless (and I suppose, anyone else who’d like attend) in the restaurant. So if you are so inclined, you can fill up in two ways at The King’s Kitchen…nutritionally and spiritually. Additionally, all the profits from the restaurant go to feed the homeless in the area. But the outreach doesn’t stop there. According to the restaurant’s website, they work with local ministries to “provide job training, life-skills training, social etiquette workshops, financial management guidance, and employment intern opportunities to Charlotteans in search of a new beginning.” Indeed, our server, a lovely young lady, told us she had been homeless for several years. Wow. See the website for The King’s Kitchen here.

As it turns out, when my friend was searching for the perfect place for us to meet, she called the restaurant and asked some questions. When she learned about the outreach ministry for the homeless, she knew we needed to go there. Her oldest son, William, has Down Syndrome, and he and the family organize “William’s Walk” every year in uptown Charlotte. They have a food drive and symbolic walk to benefit Loaves and Fishes and Second Harvest Food Bank around Thanksgiving. This year, the walk is on November 24th, and this year’s walk marks their 20th Annual William’s Walk. For more information, click here. They are accepting food donations now and would love to have lots of participants in the walk! Helping the homeless is a cause near and dear to my friend’s heart.

I should probably mention we had a lovely meal together at The King’s Kitchen. The menu is a la carte. We both ordered the salmon and a side of sauteed spinach, and I ordered an additional order of pan corn for us to share. For dessert, she ordered the chocolate torte cake to take home to her son, and I ordered banana pudding, mostly because I can’t make a good banana pudding myself. When desserts arrived, I offered to share my banana pudding, but she told me she doesn’t eat pudding. I told her I wasn’t going to push her, but banana pudding is a southern delicacy that isn’t the same as other puddings. Growing up in Jamaica and New York, she didn’t have a lot of opportunity to try a good banana pudding. She finally tried it and loved it!

And the bonus? We even got to sit in on a little bit of the Bible study…led by Jim Noble himself! There were quite a few people in attendance…one gentleman I had met earlier when I was looking for parking. Since my friend and I had to exit early from the Bible study, we gave each other nods of recognition as I passed him.

It was a lovely way to spend lunch with a good friend…and help the homeless too.

***cover photo: kingskitchen.org

Thieves And A Stick Shift

My friend, Mary Ann, just sent me a link to a news story about some guys who attempted to steal a car from a gas station in Mobile, Alabama. Apparently, the would-be car thieves jumped into a car and tried to drive away while the owner of the car was inside the gas station.

But they failed.

They couldn’t drive a stick shift car.

To anyone under 30, this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when I was growing up, lots of people still drove cars with manual transmissions. I know it’s rare today, but it wasn’t so rare back then. It was a life skill.

As far as I can remember, my family only had two cars with manual transmissions when I was growing up: a Volkswagen microbus and a Jeep. Maybe we had more, but those are the two I remember. My mother, back in the early 70s, decided she wanted a VW bus for road trips. She had never driven a stick shift, so Daddy had to teach her. Mother must have been 33 or 34. I still remember stalling out at a few traffic lights, but Mother mastered that life skill! She drove us all over the place in that VW bus. When I was 17, we got a Jeep, and that’s when I learned to drive a stick. My brother was barely 16 when we got the Jeep, but somehow, he just knew how to drive a car with a manual transmission. But then, there was that time when he was 14 and he got in big trouble because Mother saw him driving a friend’s car…probably a manual transmission…that’s probably when he learned.

My husband can drive a stick, thankfully. I learned that before we were married when a friend needed him to bring a car to him. We got into the car, and when I saw it was a manual transmission, I thought, “Oh, please let him know how to drive this car.” It sounds shallow, and I know it, but he was going to lose some masculinity points if he couldn’t drive it. Like I said…I know that’s shallow, but I just can’t help it. Fortunately, he got in the driver’s seat and drove away…without even thinking about it. In my mind, there are just certain things men need to know how to do: drive a car with a manual transmission, throw a ball correctly, and operate a chainsaw, to name a few (unless there are extenuating circumstances like a disability). It’s not like they are going to need those skills very often, but when they need them, they need them. And that day we got into that car, I would have been absolutely mortified if my then-husband-to-be had turned to me and said, “I can’t drive this car.” Go ahead…say I’m shallow. I know! I know it’s shallow, but it’s just one of those things I can’t get past!

Of course, in my daughter’s generation, there will be fewer people who know how to drive a car with a manual transmission. It’s likely there will be fewer people who know how to throw a ball correctly or operate a chainsaw, unless you can do it from a computer. I don’t even know how my own daughter will ever learn to drive a stick shift, because they are so few and far between these days! Maybe I need to talk my husband into buying a vintage VW microbus for road trips.

As it turns out, the almost-stolen car at the gas station in the news story belonged to a friend of Mary Ann’s brother. He left the keys in the car while he ran inside to get something. Lucky for him, the would-be car thieves couldn’t drive a stick. Lucky for him, he’s driving a car that requires a life skill those thieves didn’t have. Of course, if the thieves could drive a stick, they might be able to get jobs somewhere, and they wouldn’t need to steal other people’s cars. They ended up being identified by a video taken by the car’s owner, so now everybody knows they tried to steal a car and they can’t drive a stick!

Those thieves lost some masculinity points.

***To see the news story about the would-be thieves, click here.***

 

A Wilderness Life Skill for Girls

Guys have it made when they’re stuck outside with no bathroom. On camping trips or hiking trips, they just walk over to a private place in the woods and do their thing. It’s not so easy for girls. First of all, there’s no way for a girl to make her bladder gladder without actually exposing herself. Well, there is a product out there called Go Girl that helps, but it takes a little practice at home before trying to use it in the wilderness. You can see it here. It really does work and makes going outside much easier. I know, because my sister-in-law gave me one for Christmas. Do you camp? Do you fish? Do you ever find yourself needing to “go” when you’re hiking? I don’t. I don’t camp. I really don’t, but there were times in life I needed wilderness relief. Therefore, I know the importance of carrying the Go Girl with me.

When I was a little girl, my friend, Allyson, who lived down the street, had two older siblings…a sister in the high school band, and a brother on the football team. Allyson’s mother took us to games, and what fun it was! To a little girl in a small town in the south, a high school football game is a big deal!

Allyson’s mother volunteered in the concession stand sometimes, and on those nights, Allyson and I waited for her to close up shop. It probably didn’t take long, and we were happy to get to keep playing together, but on those nights, we were the last ones out.  One night when I was probably six or seven, while we waited for her to close up the concession stand, I knew I needed to pee…I was in a bind. The field lights had all been turned off, except at the concession stand. I told Allyson’s mother I needed to go to the bathroom, but she laughed and told me the bathrooms were locked. Eek. Her mom was (and still is, I’m sure) a sweet lady…not all stuffy and formal, so she gave me an alternative: “Nobody’s here but us. Just go around the stands where it’s dark and tee-tee in the grass.”

I’m sure I looked at her wide-eyed, and said, “I’ve never done that outside.” With a little encouragement from her that I would be able to pull it off, Allyson and I set off into the darkness. We walked around the bleachers, but not too far because we were a little scared. I remember vividly that I was wearing my very favorite little navy, sailor-style skort with white, anchor-embellished, decorative buttons on the front. I went behind the bleachers, pulled down my little sailor-style skort, and tinkled…all over the back of my favorite little sailor-style skort, but I didn’t know till I pulled it up. I had discovered what many women have known for years: it’s not that easy to pee outside. It was my last attempt for many years. When it was time to drive home, I had to stand up in the backseat of the Buick. I couldn’t sit on the seat…I would have gotten it wet. And since there were no seatbelt laws in the mid-70s, standing up while the car was moving was not unusual.

Years later, I attempted wilderness relief again…desperate times call for desperate measures. I was in my twenties and had walked down to a river with some friends. Realizing I wouldn’t be able to wait till we got back into town for the bathroom, I went behind a tree down by the water. This time, I was old enough to understand how to do it correctly. It’s all about balance…no big deal, right? Right…except for the boat that came around the bend just as I got started. They got a look at that full moon, and they honked and waved. I was past the point of no return at that point so all I could do was continue and give a big wave…and laugh. But I didn’t wet my shorts.

Wilderness relief is a life skill. For whatever reason, my mother didn’t teach me that one. It’s likely she tried and I flat refused. I’ve always been a little stubborn. But when I became a mother, I knew my daughter needed that life skill. I taught her the skill of wilderness relief when she was about two…in the Nordstrom parking deck at SouthPark Mall in Charlotte. I don’t know that you could call it wilderness. She was potty-training, so we had visited every ladies room in the mall, and I made sure she went in the last one before we walked to our car. As soon as we arrived at the car, she said, “I need to tee-tee.” I didn’t have the time, patience, or energy to go back into Nordstrom, so I said, “Well, you need to learn how to do it outside.” And right there, in the Nordstrom parking deck, between two parked cars, she learned about wilderness relief. It has come in handy over the years when she has had sports practice at fields where the bathrooms were locked.

I hope it’s a skill she will pass on to her daughter one day…just so she won’t mess up her favorite little, sailor-style skort.

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