GEORGIANA, ALABAMA—Kendall’s Barbecue is not just a barbecue joint. Inside this tin-roofed place is God’s own kitchen. The pulled pork here is nothing short of Biblical.
And today I need a little pork. I’m on my way to a memorial service.
I pull over for lunch. Large pulled pork. Extra pickles. I’m eating in my truck with windows down.
It’s hot outside.
A young couple in a Taurus pulls in. Dirt on the fenders. The boy is tall and skinny. His pants are too big. She’s pregnant.
There are three kids with them—all redheads. God help those children.
The young man is covered in sweat and dust.
They get their bag of food and head toward the car. He helps kids into carseats. He kisses each on the forehead.
The woman says to him, “Hurry, come quick! Feel him kick!”
He comes to her. He presses an ear to her swollen belly. His face lights up. He kisses her.
Then, they share a look.
After they leave, an older man orders at the counter. He has white hair, overalls, sweat spots on his shirt.
When he gets his paper bag, he takes it and walks to his truck. There is a dog in his vehicle.
While the man eats in his driver’s seat, I see him through his window. His mouth is moving, and he’s smiling.
I’ll be dog if he isn’t talking to that pup.
When he finishes, he stuffs a tobacco pipe with his thumb, cracks the window, and lights it. The dog gives the man a lick on the cheek. This makes the man smile.
Which makes me smile.
Next: a heavyset man orders food. He has broad shoulders and thick arms. He is with an elderly woman who uses a cane.
He orders. She sits in the shade.
“Mama,” he says to her. “You want tea?”
He helps her to a picnic table. She sits beside him.
“Napkins,” she says. “Need me some napkins.”
“And more sauce.”
“I’m running outta tea.”
“I need to use the bathroom.”
He’s a good man.
I fire up my truck and let the AC run. I am covered in a thin layer of Alabamian humidity. The cold air feels good. I’ve got more interstate driving left to do.
I’ve heard people say this world is in the outhouse. The newspapers, for instance, claim civilization is in big trouble.
Maybe we are. What do I know.
But I don’t mind telling you that I don’t believe it. Not because I am an ignoramoose—at least not a full-blooded one. But because I have seen things.
I’ve seen grown men caring for elderly mamas. I’ve seen seven-year-old boys deliver eulogies. I’ve seen a homeless man toss money into an offering plate. I’ve seen dogs kiss old men who smoke pipes.
Maybe the world is going to hell. Maybe mankind is in the biggest crisis of all time. Maybe the naysayers are right. Maybe the end awaits.
But I wish you could’ve seen that kid’s face when he listened to that girl’s stomach.
He didn’t look too worried.