By Ted Salois
Ever been so hungry your mouth watered at a thought of food? One time for me was made worse by sight of the sandwich I was crafting. It was a beauty, peanut butter and jelly, perfectly balanced. I spread the brown paste thin on one slice of bread, a medium layer of the grape-purple goo on another before firmly pressing the two together.
I was tormented by the excessive time it took to complete construction and return jars to their rightful places in the kitchen. Probably took no more than two minutes, total, though.
On my hustle back to the dining room table where my masterpiece lay waiting, I imagined mashing my teeth into the pillow-soft bread, the room-temp peanut-spread blanketing the fridge-chilled jelly. Heaven! My heels bounced high in every step.
When I arrived, I was devastated. My baby was missing. I snapped my head from side to side, looking this way and that, searching, probing, examining the area for my dearest trophy.
Dogs were accounted for, snoozing at a suitable distance. No sign of stray animals or formidable bugs from the wilds of our suburban Florida neighborhood. I turned my palms upward and huffed out loud, “WHERE THE HECK IS MY SANDWICH?”
“I ate it,” said my friend, Buzzard, sitting tall on the sofa with his back to me and face toward the television. He had seemed oblivious during the entire process. He had no reaction to my knife clanging against the glass containers, the crinkling of the plastic envelope as doughy flats were removed and the bag resealed. He never even turned around, but his verbal response solved the mystery.
You might be thinking, “Why didn’t you just offer a sandwich to your buddy, too?”
Well, you probably are an adult. They think that way. I was maybe 14.
You also might be thinking, “So, for revenge, you hammered your knuckles into his face!”
Nope. The fist-pop offer came another day. This event was detailed to introduce my pal and explain his moniker. His mother called him Scott.
The brow-bash proposal had a similar setup. We sat on the couch at my house, enjoying a “short,” a 20-minute TV episode involving the big-screen thespian giants known as The Three Stooges. Buzzard turned to me and said, “Can I have a sandwich?” I stared at him for a moment. I quickly learned this was a great tool for negotiation. Buzzard broke the silence with, “I’ll let you hit me in the eye!”
Could he have been influenced by the numerous physical interactions of the Howard brothers and Mr. Fine on the idiot box? Who knows? Who cares?
Again, I know what you’re thinking. If you’re like any other red-blooded American, upon hearing his offer, into your brain popped the words, “Um, how hard?” I said them aloud.
“I don’t care,” Buzzard replied.
Well, this situation required some careful consideration. Somebody could suffer serious injury. Considering Buzzard’s size, that could be me. It might be my hand that gets busted. It could result from a counter attack. Buzzard’s frame was more than a full shaggy-head taller than mine, his weight 40 pounds beyond.
Although he gulped food at every chance, he was mostly lean muscle and tough as a crocodile. But I knew his heart was mush. He had stood for me on many occasions. He bounced bullies. He yanked me from swirling waters. He rallied my thoughts when I needed a boost.
Taking all this into account, I hesitated slightly before I let rip the hardest punch I could throw.
Hey, I knew I never again would get such an opportunity.
And that’s a time I wish I had positioned a camera to record it all. The best action shot could have been the instant my mitt socked Buzzard’s mug. Probably, though, it would have been us sitting side-by-side, me massaging my bruised digits and Buzzard spreading an ear-to-ear grin over his teeth gnawing on a perfectly constructed PB&J.
That would be the story-telling moment.
It would have required a fast shutter speed, however. The boy’s target meals always disappeared in the snap of two (unbroken) fingers.
Ted Salois is a former photojournalist and author of the recently released book, Seven Simple Steps To Make Images Like A News Photographer. It is available from major book retailers, such as Amazon.com and BarnsandNoble.com.