“I want you to pretend we’re way back in history,” said Grandaddy, dropping hunks of catfish into the deep fryer. “Back in Biblical times.”
It was hard to imagine Biblical things. My imagination only traveled as far back as the Wild West. I could, however, visualize Indian chiefs, women of the night, and gunslingers with considerable clarity.
“One day,” Grandaddy said. “Old Jesus was speaking to billions of folks who’d come to see him talk. He talked about being sweet to your little sister, picking up your room, and…”
“Was he the sheriff?” I asked.
“Did he have a horse?”
“Well, it was more like a donkey.”
A donkey? Not even rodeo clowns ride donkeys.
“Anyway,” he said making his eyes big. “One day, all these folks that come to hear Jesus, started getting hungry, and I mean starving…”
“Was it a BIG donkey?”
“I’ve never met a sheriff without a horse…”
“Like I was saying, none of these hungry billions had Shinola to eat. Nobody except this one little boy, who looked a lot like you. He had a small basket of catfish and hushpuppies, which he gave to Jesus.”
“I love catfish,” I remarked, even though this was already well recorded in three counties.
He nodded. “I know, and so did Jesus. Still, he didn’t feel right about eating the boy’s lunch, since the child was giving it freely. So, he split it with his buddy Peter.”
“Is that his deputy?”
“Is Peter Jesus’ deputy?”
“Oh, yessir, you better believe it.”
“Did HE have a horse?”
“Well, not really.”
These are some sorry cowboys.
“You see,” he said. “Deputy Peter, was obliged to split his lunch with Deputy Andrew. So then, Andrew split his lunch with Phillip, and then Phillip with James, and James with—”
“Uh… Yeah, I suppose.”
Well, why didn’t you say so? Now we’ve got ourselves a story.
Grandaddy went on, “It kept going like this, everybody splitting hushpuppies with everybody, and the food kept dividing. And you know how it is with all-you-can-eat fried catfish, they ate until they was sick. All from a little old catfish. And you know why?”
“Because cowboys always crush their opponents?”
“No. Because when you give something away, with a happy heart, other folks will join in the fun. When everybody’s doing it… Well, that’s called love.”