Say Cheese

My daughter Tammie and I rushed from the moment our alarm clock went off, until the moment we completed the airport’s check-in and security requirements. After collecting our freshly x-rayed purses and carry-ons, we dropped down onto a nearby bench. A young man, woman and small child who had been churned out of the bureaucratic mill right behind us, stopped to take a selfie. They crowded together as the man held the camera phone out, giving the instruction, “Say, Cheese!”

Glancing around, I noticed this part of the airport looked more like a shopping mall. The lighting was dimmer and small stores lined the halls. Scrutinizing the wares, Tammie asked, “We have plenty of time before boarding. Would you like to shop around a little?”

I said, “Sure! I’ll get a magazine to read while waiting and when we’re on the airplane.”

In the excitement of our busy morning and our perusal of all things touristy, my daughter and I entirely forgot about eating breakfast or dinner. As our boarding time approached, I complained, “We won’t be getting food on the airplane and now I feel hungry. Our airplane doesn’t arrive in North Carolina until six this evening.”

After a stop at Starbucks for tea and coffee, Tammie said, “I saw a deli shop near here. Stay with our carry-ons and I’ll go see what I can buy. Moments later she returned with a 10-ounce cup filled with cubes of cheese. I savored the dairy product’s creamy texture between sips of tea. It was just what I needed, not too heavy, but filling.

When our airplane reached cruising altitude I had an appetite for more cheese. Closer to room temperature, the cheese cubes now had a fantastic flavor.

My daughter and I nibbled on a few more cheese cubes during layover. We marveled at their increasingly wonderful flavor, enjoyed their saltiness and smooth texture.

The last cheese cube eaten was after we landed in North Carolina. It tasted so good, I blurted, “This is as good as the third recess cheese!”

Looking surprised, Tammie asked, “What’s third recess cheese?

I explained, “When I was in first and second grade, I ate hot lunch at school. On the counter where we picked up our plates of hot food were platters of sliced cheese. The meals were large enough to fill me without taking the cheese. I didn’t even really like cheese that much, anyway. In my opinion, cheese was cold, hard and often tasteless.  Other children must have felt the same way. There was often a lot of cheese left over after we had all eaten.

The ladies who had prepared the lunch food spent the afternoon cleaning up and probably prepping for the following day’s meal. By third recess, about two-thirty in the afternoon, the leftover cheese had been on the counter for over three hours. One of the women would offer the slices to the children on the playground.

I was generally pretty hungry again by that time of day. The first time I reluctantly took a slice I discovered how really good cheese tasted. I also discovered that cheese is at the very best when eaten at room temperature. After that time, whenever the lunch lady showed up on the playground with her platter of cheese, I ran to her!”

Popping the last cheese cube into her mouth, Tammie said, “You were a very smart little kid.” Holding up her phone she smiled and said, “Now that we’ve arrived at our destination, I’ll take a picture of you. Say, ‘Cheese’.”

Wishing I could have had one last taste of the fantastic cheese, I said, “Usually saying cheese makes a person look like they’re smiling. When I say, ‘Cheese’ right now, all it’s going to do is make me look wistful.”






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