Life’s Coloring Book A column by Suzi Walls for The Daily Herald

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I don’t know about you, but I love to savor a good meal. Doesn’t matter if it’s at home or in a restaurant or even at Burger King, for that matter. I read somewhere that it’s better for a person to eat slowly and allow time for your stomach to signal your brain that it’s full. Supposedly, you’ll eat less that way. (Can’t prove it by me, though.)
Walzie yells at me all the time for eating too slowly. In fact, just last week as we enjoyed breakfast at the Chill N Grill, he sat with his arms folded, watching me play with my scrapple. Okay, so I draw pictures in the butter with my knife and smear syrup around like Picasso. I’m letting my brain and stomach get it together.
Finally, he couldn’t stand it any longer, “Susan, if you ate like that in ‘Nam, you’d still be there!”
Well, doggone it, we aren’t in ‘Nam – get over it!
Just because he inhales his food like a vacuum sweeper, he thinks everybody else should do likewise. Sometimes I think he’s mentally still in ‘Nam gulping down cold sea rations or sucking it in under the watchful eye of the drill instructor at boot camp.
He learned all that stuff at Parris Island, South Carolina, way back in 1967. He was a smart-aleck kid just turned eighteen when Aunt Lovie made him join the Marines. (Bet she was tired of him inhaling all of her food!) It was either enlist or suffer the wrath of Drill Instructor Bigmouth as a draftee. He later found out that either way, the D.I. would make him suffer.
It was 100 degrees and the middle of the night when the Greyhound pulled through the gates at Parris Island. When the door opened, the D.I. shouted, “You girls have three seconds to clear this bus!”
Quicker than soup through a goose, Gomer Pyle was standing on the yellow footprints. Sweat matted his slicked-back Elvis hair and stains as big as Chevy hubcaps wet his armpits. His heart was thumping. Sgt. Reed got in his face right away, “Think you’re tough, Elvis? What’s that I hear? Is that your stomach growling?”
“Uh, no…well, maybe…uh, yeah,” Walzie stammered.
“Well, which is it, Sally,” he continued. “No? Maybe? Yes? And what title follows?”
Uh oh, a trick question. I know Walzie’s mind raced trying to remember what the heck a proper title for a ranging banshee should be.
“Yeah, uh…Mr. Drill Sergeant.”
A quick slap up-side the head taught him the word, “Sir”.
Before the sun came up, his hair turned to Velcro, his jeans and t-shirt transformed magically into fatigues, his cowboy boots became combat boots, and his poor empty tummy growled louder. What he wouldn’t give for a slab of bacon and a dozen eggs right now.
“Breakfast at o-five hundred hours,” the D.I. barked.
Finally, Walzie, carrying his tray, joined the other recruits in the mess hall. He sighed. Two seconds later, the banshee screamed that breakfast was over. Fall in formation. Walzie gulped a quart of chocolate milk and snapped to attention.
Outside in the southern morning heat, that milk churned and burbled. Just as the D.I. came face to face with Walzie, he let out a deep chocolaty belch.
“Who’s the uncouth clown?” he questioned. “Private Walls, was that you?”
The D.I. took his pointer stick and rammed it into poor Walzie’s gut. Chocolate milk shot out of him like pea soup from Linda Blair. Drill Sergeant’s don’t wear chocolate very well, you know. Now who’s the one that needs a Tide stick?
So after all that, Walzie learned to turn on the vacuum (and hold it down well). He’s never stopped. He’s told me that eating this way saved his life many times over. Well, yeah, when eating in the jungle, not the Chill N Grill for heaven’s sake. He says there’s just too much stuff to do to waste time eating. Shucks, Walzie, Walmart is open 24 hours – slow down!

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