Fried Chicken

So I’m watching her work at the stove right now. She has no idea I’m writing this. My bloodhound is on my lap, a TV is blaring.

I’m watching my wife cook. She’s frying okra in an iron skillet. A dog lies in my lap. The television is playing. My life ain’t bad.

Except.

Three’s Company is on. I don’t care for Three’s Company.

“Turn it up,” my wife says.

She likes this show. I don’t know what she sees in it. I’ve never cared for the trials and tribulations of Jack Tripper. I’m an Andy-Griffith man, myself.

John Ritter is no Andy Taylor.

Anyway, cooking. This is what my wife does. It’s how she’s put together. If you’ve never met her, there are only two things you should know about her:

1. she talks with a loud voice.

2. don’t ever touch her plate.

On our honeymoon, we went to a greasy burger joint in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the kind of place with a jukebox, and burgers so thick they cause cardiologists to recite the Twenty-Third Psalm.

I made a serious attempt to steal an onion ring from my wife’s basket. It was the first and only time I ever attempted such an act. And even though it happened long ago, I never regained mobility in my left hand.

Food, you see, is important to her. It’s what she does.

I’m not saying she’s a hobbyist. I’m saying that when we first met, she’d already completed culinary school with flying colors and worked in a kitchen. She doled out orders, stocked inventory, and balanced budgets.

A “chef de cuisine” is what they’re called. She knew all there was to know about beurre blancs, chèvre cheese, semi-rigid emulsions, and beef bourguignon.

When we were dating, she cooked supper a lot. On one such occasion, she asked what I wanted for supper.

I really wanted to impress her with worldly culinary wisdom. I felt it important to appear to be a man of sophistication when courting a woman with refined tastes.

I almost suggested “cuisses de grenouilles,” but couldn’t figure out if this dish paired well with Miller Lite. So instead, I said to her: “Can you make Kentucky Fried Chicken?”

She didn’t even blink. She floured up her mother’s counter. We’re talking chicken batter made from scratch, creamed corn, grits, and sliced raw tomatoes.

And a chicken good enough to make even the staunchest Baptist take the name of Andy Griffith in vain.

I’ve never loved another woman.

I’ll cut straight to the chase for those of you who don’t want to read any further. I love her. A lot. She’s not like other people. She’s outgoing, opinionated, outspoken at times, and magnificent.

When she smiles, I see her. Fifty thousand generations of lower Alabama jump out of her eyes. Her left eye closes more than her right one. I love that.

She likes animals, stories, butter, anything spicy, sleeping late, cold beer, and SEC football. She has worn the same pair of pajamas since I met her—almost sixteen years ago. And the same hairstyle.

She doesn’t often wear makeup—she doesn’t need to. She isn’t worried about calories—there are more important things to worry about.

And she is strong enough to make a common redhead believe that he can do things. Things like writing.

I would have never started my writing career if it weren’t for her. She’s the one who helped me be me.

Whenever I tell her this, she only answers with: “You give me too much credit. I didn’t do anything.”

Yes you did, Jamie.

You told me I was somebody. And you cooked my chicken in a skillet. And I am me because of you.

So I’m watching her work at the stove right now. She has no idea I’m writing this. My bloodhound is on my lap, a TV is blaring.

And life is so short. It’s shorter than people think. I’m no fool. Life is an evaporating fog. One day we’ll be apart, and one of us will miss the other so bad it will feel worse than dying.

But that day is not today.

No, today is now. And it’s ours. And I want this woman to know, today, that I’m with her, and I’m glad she’s with me.

Even though she watches Three’s Company.

35 comments

  1. Susan Hammett Poole - June 21, 2018 9:15 am

    Sean, I’ve got you figured out. You are a bonafide softie, and hundreds, maybe thousands, of us love you and your musings. I’m smiling over this story and am going to sleep happy 🙂 probably dreaming of KFC.

    Reply
  2. Perri Williamson - June 21, 2018 9:23 am

    I’m not sure what to comment on first. I think it will be 2. Don’t touch her plate. It is five AM and I’m crying I’m laughing so hard. She would definitely be someone I would be fast friends with. Do you remember Jerry Clower, the Ledbetters, the fried chicken and the lights going out?

    This is one of your funniest. “burgers so thick they cause cardiologist to recite the 23rd Psalm.“

    Your “Forever in a dress” Just keeps getting better and better.

    Reply
  3. Camille - June 21, 2018 9:59 am

    Long live Sean and Jamie! The best!

    Reply
  4. Penn Wells - June 21, 2018 10:53 am

    I feel your pain: Three’s Company. The things we put up with just to get a little fried bird….😳

    Reply
  5. Edna B. - June 21, 2018 10:56 am

    I think it’s wonderful how honest and open you can be about loving your wife. You’re right, life is very short. We need to be thankful for every day and enjoy it to the fullest. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

    Reply
  6. MaryBurns - June 21, 2018 11:07 am

    Like!!!

    Reply
  7. Marisa Franca - June 21, 2018 11:13 am

    Loved it!! Made me smile and I felt that smile all the way to my toes.

    Reply
  8. Terri Donovan - June 21, 2018 11:28 am

    Lord, I love your writing.

    Reply
  9. Dianne - June 21, 2018 11:50 am

    What a wonderful tribute to your love for your wife. You’re both blessed people to have found each other!

    Reply
  10. GARY - June 21, 2018 12:10 pm

    Not sure what a “raw” sliced tomato is, but a plain O sliced tomato on two pieces of bread w/Duke’s is a summertime delicacy that arrives about this time every year! I can eat’um till they run out my ears. Keep up the fine writing Sir, your a treat to read every morning.

    Reply
  11. Shirley Brown - June 21, 2018 12:22 pm

    I’m so glad too that she’s with you. I often wonder what would happen to my life had I not met my soulmate. That kind of love makes you see things clearer, food taste better and the air sweeter. Without it, the fog never disappears completely. Pet Thel and say thanks to the good Lord above. Your circle is complete.

    Reply
  12. NBP - June 21, 2018 12:36 pm

    I long for y’all’s kind of love. Makes me happy to know it exists. Maybe one day…

    Reply
    • Gerald - August 18, 2018 12:51 pm

      It can and will, you just have to hang in there and never be anything but yourself. You want to love someone for what they are and it works both ways.

      Reply
  13. Connie Havard Ryland - June 21, 2018 12:39 pm

    Your love for Jamie is a beautiful thing. You bring me to tears every time you talk about her. Y’all are truly blessed.

    Reply
  14. Ron Coppock - June 21, 2018 12:46 pm

    As I my wife and I live everyday to its fullest- which means in gratitude for every little piece of minutia that we used to fly over during our 30,000 foot lives ( you see, she’s fighting cancer and I am fighting demons), your column has become a way to fight back to our center.
    People ( except for Jason Isbell) run away from the obvious fact that one day – one of us will be alone
    in this world with only the memories of the other to keep us alive – God I had hoped that would have been her – still do
    Bless you Sean of the South

    Reply
  15. Ann - June 21, 2018 12:52 pm

    She wouldn’t be her without the Three’s Company! She’s unique and special and so are you. Two peas in a pod. God is good.

    Reply
  16. Barbara Schweck - June 21, 2018 1:31 pm

    I had the privelege of meeting Jamie at one of your engagements. Although we talked for maybe 5 minutes, I felt like I had known her all my life and that we could be besties. She is exactly as you described and as the kids say, “she keeps it real!” Such a pleasure to meet someone who is comfortable in who she is and doesn’t try to”put on airs” as they say on Andy Griffith. You are a lucky man, Sean Dietrich, and from your writings, I know you know it!! Now if I could just meet Thelma Lou!

    Reply
  17. Donna J. masmar - June 21, 2018 1:44 pm

    Love starting my day with your articles; sometimes I laugh and sometimes I get teary but thanks to your wife for convincing you of your talents.

    Reply
  18. David Dunn - June 21, 2018 1:48 pm

    I like the rhyme at the end. Sean I have a wife like yours and it will soon be 43 years we have been married. We are blessed men for these ladies coming into our lives and I am sure there are a lot more like us. Keep loving her and I hope you catch up to me. Love your stories, keep up the great work, David from Valparaiso .

    Reply
  19. Sue Cronkite - June 21, 2018 2:36 pm

    You ought to take another look at John Ritter. His dad was Tex. remember the “Boll Weevil” song. If you don’t, look it up.

    Reply
  20. Steven - June 21, 2018 3:02 pm

    My wife likes to plate share. I don’t. I got my food, you got yours, good enough. The first time she reached over to help herself to a bite I stabbed her arm with my fork. It was a reflex. I didn’t know it was going to happen, neither did she. Didn’t draw blood. Hasn’t been much of a deterrent though – she still will try occasionally. More often I’ll save her a morsel and push the plate toward her so the protocol is clear. But, she is the best cook – almost as good as my grandma.

    Reply
  21. Marty from Alabama - June 21, 2018 3:24 pm

    How I wish my husband would talk about me like you do Jamie. That time I met her in Decatur, I was ready to adopt her even though I already had the world’s best daughter. They would make a great pair.
    Oh, by the way, have you ever seen anybody fall all over creation any better than Jack Tripper/John Ritter?

    Reply
  22. Minnie Bourque - June 21, 2018 4:35 pm

    Oh, Sean, the mental pictures that your writings evoke. I can smell the fried okra! Wish I had a plate at this very moment! Your wife sounds like a wonderful person, one I’d like so much. I am from Alabama originally and I miss all the good times there with my family, esp. my aunts who cooked just like your wife! I marveled at them…no food has ever tasted so good. We didn’t care about calories, cholesterol, fat, etc. We cared about the aroma and taste! And neither failed us! And….many of my sweet aunts lived late into their lives, as did my grandmothers! You have made me so homesick! We were not in Lower Alabama….thought we did have relatives in Mobile and Brewton. Loved going down there and then onto Pensacola and Panama City. My family lived around Demopolis, Ward, Cuba, Montgomery, Union Springs,etc. Plus, I had others in Meridian, MS…not far away. Great memories!! I live on them!
    Thank you again for wonderful memories!

    Reply
  23. Janet Mary Lee - June 21, 2018 4:46 pm

    Thankfulness is one of the great things in life- recognizing it in time- priceless!

    Reply
  24. Debbie - June 21, 2018 4:47 pm

    I love Jamie now, too. You’re one lucky guy … a devoted bloodhound, fried chicken, and Jamie, who makes you a better man.

    Reply
  25. Jack Quanstrum - June 21, 2018 11:55 pm

    Wonderful story! You both are inspirational!

    Reply
  26. Linda Bailey - June 21, 2018 11:56 pm

    A Johnny and June kinda love! Yes Sean you’re blessed beyond measure

    Reply
  27. Jody - June 22, 2018 12:54 am

    I can identify with Jamie not willing to share from her plate. My husband would play the game of having me look off to see something while he helped himself to a taste of whatever appealed to him. I know his mama taught him better.

    Reply
  28. Anne Trawick - June 22, 2018 1:28 am

    I too loved Jamie the minute I met her, and I hadn’t even tasted her fried chicken.

    Reply
  29. Sandra Smith - June 22, 2018 2:32 am

    There is a fried chicken story in the dating stage of mine & my husband’s 45 yr relationship, too.
    It also played a huge part in the reason we married, but I can’t tell it here. Someday when I get to meet you, I’ll tell it to you. Meanwhile, love Jamie hard, every minute (I believe you already do) because life IS fleeting. ❤❤❤

    Reply
  30. Jack Darnell - June 22, 2018 3:41 am

    You are so right. Life does pass too soon. I am knowing that well, my older sister just decided to ‘cross over’ she wasn’t but 82. Seem yesterday she ran into a ditch and knocked dad/s gas tank loose. Imma miss her.

    But I get the Fried chicken, my mothers was the best, my girl learned at her feet. She DOES fried Chicken…

    Reply
  31. Lisa Perkins - June 23, 2018 4:03 am

    That was the best compliment to your wife – I loved it! You two are blessed to have each other!

    Reply
  32. Pat Pecnik - August 18, 2018 8:07 am

    One of the reasons my husband said he married me is that I shared a generous amount of my food with him. So did my Mom and Grandma. They are all gone now and you brought up a sweet memory. Thank you.

    Reply
  33. Jerenell Gorbutt - August 18, 2018 12:18 pm

    So thankful that you two have one another. You are indeed very blessed to have a wonderful girl like Jamie. She did good too son- never doubt that for a minute!

    Reply
  34. Ceil Garrison - August 18, 2018 3:41 pm

    Made me think of my son Christian. You can’t touch his food either. Love your writing.

    Reply

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