His wife mentions that his groin smells like smoked meat when he eats too much barbeque. His body heats up, and it sweats out from his pores. He’s been the smoke master at a famous BBQ joint for years; lines out the door until they run out. Like a fisherman who can’t remove the smell of scales from his skin or the mechanic who can’t completely remove the grease from under his nails, he can’t shower away the smoke from his hair. In the food business, they buy extra-large, powder-free vinyl gloves. He is the one who likes to shred the chickens and pull the pork, so he wears multiple pairs a day, even when using prongs. Despite not touching the meat directly, he can tell precisely to the minute how perfectly anything is cooked by how well it pulls away from the bone. The routine of the job is second nature and often monotonous, but it’s taught some solid life truths, too. From its preparation to its presentation, there’s a lot of metaphor in food. Like starting with good ingredients, one must pay attention to the type of people they call friends or family. Know your foundation. The slow, smoking process has taught him patience; giving things time –to cook –to grow –to build, leads to great results in any relationship or business enterprise. He pays attention to the tiny details, like how clean he keeps his place and remembering his customers’ names. Eating meat off the bone is as old as man himself, and he knows some see him as just a cook, but he is a better man than most.
The vinyl records are placed alphabetically in wooden crates as if the owner once worked at a music shop. The boxes line two walls of his tiny living room apartment. This collection has been cultivated over time and intense sleuthing. He is very orderly and particular about his music setup. The speakers are placed just so. A few friends have gathered around with cracked-open beers, mostly sitting on the floor like a little powwow. He’s pulled the metal rolling tray out from under the couch and a buddy is rolling a joint. His lady is flicking through the records to pick one to go on the turntable next. There is no tv. There is no social media. There is no news on constantly. They talk about their physical labor jobs, remodeling cars, their romances, their friend’s antics; how hard-ass their parents are about what they’re doing with their lives. In these early years of adulthood, they possess few things. The basic necessities are all that matter. It’s the little things, right? He’s got his music. The world is big and wild and still unexplored for him. His world is small and his friends are tight. He doesn’t need a lot to make him happy. He has his job, his girlfriend, and his music. Seems just fine for now. But he knows things don’t stay simple and uncomplicated for long.