Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Southern Style Ribs

My son tells his friends I make the best ribs in town. He's right. I'm particular about my sauce...mustard and vinegar based of course, and have a secret process of slow cooking and grilling that my good friend Melissa taught me.  When he's bringing his buddies home from UVA, he calls a week in advance to put in a rib order.  This summer, I had to talk one of his fraternity brothers from Macon through a rib crises. He phoned in the middle of grilling, needing a little intervention to get him through a sticky situation. He had the sauce all wrong  and had skipped an important step in the wrapping, slow baking, basting, grillling process.  Calmly, I talked him through it and got him back on the right track....another disaster averted, then told him Georgia boys better just stick to Brunswick stew.
      There are two things, well three, that Southerners love.  BBQ ribs, sweet iced tea, and porch swings.  I  have learned recently to not hold swings in such high regard.  Especially if one has been eating a little too much BBQ.
     It was a cool evening in September, especially for South Carolina. I was engaged in a long phone conversation with Nancy while swinging away on my sister's front porch, sipping on a little iced tea and enjoying the breeze. Back and forth, back and forth, the chains making a familiar squeak with each pass. I pushed higher and higher with my toe, as I filled Nancy in on the latest college news. Back and forth, back and forth, back and ...BAM! The chain pulled out of the ceiling and the swing crashed as it began it's descent  The last thing Nancy heard was a scream and a thud, then silence. My sister rushed out of the house to find me lying in a heap underneath a pile of boards and chains.  My phone had flown across the porch, my new Kate Spade glasses were somewhere in the bushes, and tea was spilled everywhere.  At first, I thought just my pride had been crushed. I was more than a little embarrassed that I had pulled the swing out of the ceiling, especially since Rooster had installed it. I brushed myself off, insisted that I was fine, no, nothing was hurt, and limped back home.
     The next morning, there was a deep pain in my ribcage, but we were headed to the mountains for the  holidays and I ignored the symptons.  The heating pad was my best friend all weekend, and I managed to bear the pain while I hit the Labor Day sales.  School resumed on Tuesday, and I was not going to admit that this old geezer just couldn't keep up with the college kids.  I dragged myself to class, popping a regime of Ibuprofen and Tylenol that would get me arrested in most states.  By Friday, I had to swallow my pride and admit that this was a little more than I could handle. 10 sleepless nights and miserable days had made me a tad bit grumpy, so my mother INSISTED that I go to the doctor or they were going to put me down. It was dove season, my father's guns were cleaned and loaded, so I took them seriously and headed to the 24 hour emergency center-- on a Friday night.  That was almost as painful as the symptons. After two hours of waiting, x-rays, and more waiting, the doctor prolaimed I had  a cracked rib and pleuresy, loaded me up with meds, and sent me packing. I did not tell him the truth about what had happened. I was determined to leave with my pride intact.  The official medical transcript reads "Fell down the stairs while carrying a laundry basket of clothes and a 50 pound bag of dog food." Oh come on, you'd have done the same thing.
     So please don't ask me to make my famous ribs anytime soon.  I don't think my nerves could take the sound of cracking bones as you pulled those meaty ribs apart and sucked them down.  I will have a glass of iced tea, however, and sit in the rocking chair.

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