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Awards, Poetry, Grape Jelly, and Sweet Tea

I won the Silver in the Crowder Quill Nonfiction Competition this year. I’m proud of this accomplishment, but receiving my certificate wasn’t the highlight of my Thursday evening. Neither was stepping up to the microphone to be the first person to participate in the poetry reading. No, the highlight of my evening came after we left the Crowder College campus.

My mom and my dear friend, Lori, attended the ceremony with me. They cheered me on, took pictures of me at key moments, and we had a pleasant time. We were hungry by the end of the reception. It was after 9:00 p.m. and way past our suppertime. We went to Denny’s because it was close to the campus, and we knew it would be open. We were also confident that we wouldn’t be chased out if we lingered over dinner.

We took our time in selecting our food before ordering. Our drink orders were simple. My mom ordered sweet tea and Lori was quite clear that she wanted her tea unsweetened. She hates sweet tea. I don’t blame her a bit. I drink my tea unsweetened, as well. However, Diet Coke will always win over tea in my book, so there was no chance of our server confusing my drink with the others.

All was going well. Lori and my mom haven’t spent much time together since Lori and I were in high school, so there was a great deal of catching up. There was also a lot of reminiscing. Lori and I have been friends since third grade, so Mom remembers most of our shenanigans.

The real fun began when we received our food. Lori asked for some grape jelly. Mom was sitting beside the condiment bin and dug through it until she found a couple tubs of grape jelly. That’s when it happened. Mom knocked over her full glass of sweet tea and doused the table, all three of us, our seats, and the floor. My filmy flowing skirt was no protection against the ice cold beverage that assaulted my legs.

Our server was amazing and rushed over with towels, napkins, and a tray. Another server joined her. In the chaos, Mom’s sandwich was whisked away because she had soaked it in sweet tea. The two servers had our table dried, a new sandwich made for Mom, and a fresh glass of sweet tea to replace the lost one impressively fast. Yes, we tipped generously.

We were laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Then Lori mentioned that someone had spilled a drink the last time we all ate together, too. Mom’s response was priceless. She said, “Well, it’s all your fault. Your stupid grape jelly caused all of this.” We laughed so hard we could barely remain upright.

Thursday was a night to remember. Mom and Lori watched me win a Silver and then read one of my unpublished poems to a group of strangers. They met some of my writing colleagues and got a taste of the sort of events I often attend. We parted with the promise to get together again soon, but no one is allowed grape jelly or sweet tea.

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