Written by David Novell –
Orangie and Butch were having breakfast together one morning at Butch’s house, in the little nook off the kitchen, enjoying some incredibly delicious waffles that Butch’s mother had made. The boys had slathered them with real butter and homemade plum jelly, as had become the custom whenever they ate at Butch’s.
Orangie had never heard of putting anything besides butter and syrup on a waffle, except for one time when his family had run out of Log Cabin syrup and his mother (this was before she’d flipped her lid a while back) had suggested that he use honey instead and Orangie hadn’t liked that at all.
But then a couple of months ago he’d tried the jelly at Butch’s – it was grape the first time – and he’d delighted in the taste, plus the fact that you could pick it up and eat it like a piece of toast.
So this particular morning Orangie felt extra hungry, and it occurred to him that he might be able to stuff an entire quarter of his waffle into his mouth at one time. So all of a sudden he did it!
Butch’s look of incredulity, jaw dropping and eyes popping, nearly made Orangie start laughing and lose his entire gigantic bite. But he just managed to control himself enough to chew it up and swallow, at which time Butch decided to follow suit and stuff the big piece he was holding into his own mouth, suppressing a laugh too, as Orangie burst into a long hearty cackle.
Fortunately for the boys Mrs. Jorgensen had gone out to the side yard after making four big round waffles, so the boys were free to play their game. And play they did until they were so bloated from all the waffles and cold milk that they could barely move their weighty stomachs into the living room to plop down on the couch.
This particular competition was not the first time the boys had made a game out of consumption; they had done it before with water, the idea being to chug a whole quart while your opponent tries to make you laugh during the attempt. The ultimate triumph for the adversary was to have you laugh so hard that water would come out your nose.
And then there were the Pepsi-cola contests, where the chief opponent was the “red ants” that seemed to attack your throat as you tried to down an entire tall 16-ounce bottle. You knew they were red ants because when you held the full bottle up to the light there was a definite red color to the fluid; and of course everybody knew that red ants were the ones that would bite, whereas their cousins the black ants were harmless.
Orangie was a little bit envious of the Jorgensens for their abundant stock of Pepsi, and groceries in general. The Nolans were lucky these days to have an occasional 6-pack of Shasta sodas in the fridge.
His dad had recently brought home a huge jar of stale peanut butter, and Orangie had tried to tell him how bad it was, but his dad had seemed committed to the idea that it was wrong to throw out any food. And somehow the peanut butter was supposedly even more important to use up, given the incredible bargain his dad had discovered.
But Orangie hadn’t fussed too much about it, ‘cause he knew he could get good fresh Skippy or Jif at the Jorgensen’s almost any time.
Another obvious sign of the Jorgensens’ affluence was the big stack of money that Butch’s dad always had fattening up his wallet. And Butch himself was rolling in dough compared to Orangie: Butch received a weekly allowance of five dollars! Orangie was supposed to get two dollars every two weeks, but most of the time even that didn’t materialize.
So, as he lay on the couch with a belly so full, Orangie considered himself really lucky to have such wealthy friends, and on this particular day of “waffle overload” he made up his mind that he would think about it – and maybe even say a prayer of thanks on the way to church Sunday with his dad.
He also swore to himself that he would never eat so many waffles so fast , as long as he would live!
David Novell was born and raised in and around Fresno, and has lived in North Fork since 1978. David is a local building contractor and has been part of the musical group “Sugar Pine,” entertaining around the area and at the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad for over 35 years.
“Like any kid growing up in the little San Joaquin Valley towns of Centerville, Sanger, Reedley, Selma, Kingsburg, Exeter, Dinuba, and all the rest, I was privileged to have many innocent ‘adventures.’ Overgrown back yards, vacant lots, and deserted storage sheds were magical places where anything was possible.
“To follow, in this and subsequent issues of Sierra News Online, are some stories loosely based on my experiences as a young boy. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.” ~ David Novell