The Star-Herald

Be optimistic and eat cheeseburgers

January is named after Janus, a Roman deity who is represented with two faces to imply looking forward and backward. In a nod to Hemingway, there came a question the other night. It began with the unmistakable sound.

That high-pitched whine that signals a certain bug has fallen in love with a new food source. Yes, that sound that sends grown men and women into panic mode in the summer. It is not the high-pitched warbling of some forgettable pop star. The singer? A bug known as a ruthless, bloodthirsty mosquito was thirsting for my few red corpuscles — and at midnight in January?

No one has explained how the mosquito came to be in my room on a midnight in January. It was there and it was singing its joy. Gone was the peace and quiet of the night as I read a few good words in a new book. It just was. Soon the ham (another term for a photo loving subject) showed up in a tempting moment on the pages of my book. It was a book on good words and their values. 

Deciding that the ruthless, bloodthirsty fiend was in search of salvation because it was singing as if it were auditioning for a holy choir, I decided to introduce it to the choristers in supplication. One more voice in the firmament would not be noticed too soon. With the patience of one Job, the musical miscreant was coaxed to rest his weary wings on the inside pages of my book. With a dexterous flick of the wrists, the mosquito was introduced to some good, if not choice words, as the pages descended on its head in a motion that resembled a lightning bolt. The mosquito became one with the words and peace and joy returned in a crescendo of a smack. 

No one has explained what the mosquito was seeking within those pages.

Though it is January and the scene outside can look bleak, it is time for optimism. A look out over the fields and you can see great bands of green and brilliant yellow in their future. 

We are here to take on the world once again and hunt for the perfect cheeseburger. Yes, optimism is now open for new dreams.

On a family road trip, in the days before we all tuned out with our iPhones, my younger brother refused to have anything at meal times other than a cheeseburger. His rationale was that the cooks could not screw up a cheeseburger. He was probably right, and certainly there are many horror stories of road trip disasters in food. But it was always the small roadside diner or restaurant that had the best cheeseburgers and fries.

Located in a rebuilt home in the center of Mapleton is a simple restaurant, with its hammered tin ceiling and wide open dining room. It hides a menu of homemade deliciousness and atmosphere that harkens back to the days of those perfect cheeseburgers with the fresh slice of cheese oozing onto the fries and all one full plate of stomach packing happiness. 

Having a touchstone, like a decent cheeseburger, makes optimism grow as we all wait for winter to get up and leave and a new spring to bring joys, challenges, and hope for a great new year. 

Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television, later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.

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