WHO IS ETTA?

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The decision to move South, nineteen years ago, was due too an epiphany. Delaying this leap of understanding for most of my life is brain damage from fifty birthdays of Great Lakes weather.

Choosing North Carolina’s coast as the landing site, for those suffering from HCD Syndrome (habitually cold & depressed), is a nirvana like selection. Besides, unlike moving to Peru, English is the language.
Packing the contents of a three-story home into a rental U-Haul is like stacking BB’s. My wife, who knows how to put toothpaste back in the tube, is immediately in charge.

We are on the road at five AM with my son at the wheel of Mr. U-Haul as I follow in my car. The trip should take thirteen hours. On Interstate ninety-five, the truck begins to develop symptoms of engine trouble. Our top speed is forty-five and supporting waves from all the other traffic really enhances our ability to accept one ugly drive. My son, a bit of a rigid man, occasionally waves back.

Pulling up in front of our new home, twenty-six hours since leaving Erie, my son says “Do not ever ask me to do this again. I am so hungry, please go get something to eat and wake me when your back”.

I drive down Market St. caring little about what to eat; “First place I see” I mumble incoherently. A Kentucky fried Chicken pops into view; I immediately pull in, park, enter and get in line.

The place is rather busy but with only four customers in front of me, it should be quick. As I look around, I become aware of a huge man behind me, tapping a nervous size forty cowboy boot on the tile floor. I am five foot eight and his belt buckle is level with my nose.

I am next and step up to the counter. The woman asks; “Wha yo wan”? I’ll take a bucket of chicken, cold slaw and two Pepsi’s”. She goes to place the order. The cowboy boot is tapping at a quicker pace. She returns and says “Etta criby”? I think she must be talking to someone named Etta so I do not react. Narrowing her eyebrows she leans forward directly in my face and says; “Etta criby”? Embarrassment and confusion is taking over because I have no clue what she is saying. I still do not reply.

Goliath in cowboy boots thumps me in my back. Leaning over he yells in my ear; “WHA SHE IS ASKIN’ YA’ALL IS EXTRA CRISPY“! I tell her “sure, absolutely…of course”. Picking up the order, I‘m gone in seconds. Driving back to the house I recall the moving to Peru thought; “I have a language to learn,” I mutter.

Waking my son he questions, “What took so long”? “I was talking to Etta”. “Who is Etta“? “Never mind, eat your chicken”.