Chicken Noodle Soup Maiden

By on Mar 31, 2019 in Fiction

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Lizard man with woman on Mars with chips and soda

Nineteen fifty-nine was a year of great uncertainty. What about the Russians? Why so many TV Westerns? But in Stuart Nation, Philadelphia’s West Oak Lane neighborhood, I tripped over my own vexing questions like they were too-long shoelaces—all swirling around a girl in my fourth-grade class whose disinterest intoxicated me.

I was a happily-chatty kid most of the time, except when I was around Carol, whose studied cool and blond, bowler-cut hair usually left me incapable of saying more than hello. To the actual Carol, that is; I shared some incredible phantom-afternoon interludes with the imaginary one at home after obsessing over the real deal all day at F.S. Edmonds Elementary School.

Borderline prodigy psycho? Maybe—but this isn’t your story, it’s mine. So here goes.

Our day-dream dates would begin with me opening a Charles Chips potato-chips can and yanking out two salty scoops, one destined for my spot at the dining-room table, the second for my father’s hallowed nesting-place.

“These sandwiches will look weird,” I’d address dad’s setting, now hers, “but wait ‘til you taste them!” I’d toast two Freihofer’s bread slices and set them aside; the last two would be Carol’s. I wouldn’t mind my toast a little bit cold—she wouldn’t get the full genius of this without Total Heat.

After the second toasting, I’d theatrically grab the hot slices and put them onto a red plate (“Hope you don’t mind plastic”) and reach for the peanut butter.

I’d glob the brown oily mess onto all four slices, bring them to the table, and crumble the chips, first Carol’s, then mine, onto one slice per plate, then smoosh our sandwiches together.

“You are gonna love this!” (At this point I envisioned her blue eyes dancing.) I laid my sandwich onto a blue plate and went to the fridge for Coke, breaking, then dropping, ice into two plastic tumblers and beaming toward her setting.

“This will wash it down just right”  I’d return to the table, gobble both sandwiches and down our drinks. Then I’d clear the table, plop down at my spot and look at hers, where I pictured her grateful smile straightening my crookedest grin.

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Stuart Michaelson is a semi-retired journalist and Philadelphia native. He spent 22 years working on newspapers in the Philly area, Connecticut, and New Jersey as a reporter, editor, columnist, and supervisor, as well as more than a decade at TV Guide magazine, where he contributed to three books on television history. He started writing fiction in 2017, and had a short story published in 2018 in the Schuylkill Valley Journal. Apart from writing fiction, as well as part-time freelance non-fiction, he spends his time reading political and rock-music bios, listening to CDs, and watching old TV shows, ranging from Lost to such escapist fare as "Melrose Place."