A waitress at Miller’s Diner collected table scraps for my dogs, Brandy and Dusty. The yellow bus that dropped me off from school stopped directly in front of the restaurant that invented the fried onion blossom.
With a red geomerty book tucked at ninety degrees under my armpit, I ran inside the restaurant to grab at least two large coffee cans stuffed with ham bones, gravy, mashed potatoes, and other succulent morsels scraped from unfinished plates.
Any normal dog would enjoy a life filled with daily feasts, fresh from the tables of many masters, but Brandy and Dusty turned their noses up at the food from Millers.
Bits of hoagie sandwiches were sniffed at or buried alongside the many bones in the earth around Brandy and Dusty’s dog boxes. The waitress, Dotty Smith who gathered the table scraps and placed them in coffee cans did not separate food that dogs like from items like carrots, peas and beets. She always seemed peeved with me and the cans.
My step- father worked out a deal with the owner of Miller’s Diner in exchange for the dog food. He agreed that his step-children would shovel the parking lot of Miller’s Diner when it snowed. It was Dotty’s job to put the leftovers in cans everyday. It was mine to carry them across the street to our dogs.
“Hello. I just mopped the floor. Hold on, I’ll get it for you,” she protested, sucking her teeth at me.
“Thanks Dotty. Hey listen, I’m selling candy for the high school band.”
“My grandson Chris is in the band. I’ll buy from him,” she snapped, handing me the cans that served momentarily as a steel bra.
“Just so you know, they’re a buck a piece. Thanks anyway. I’ll see ya later.”
I was obligated to toss out the food the dogs would not like, and often, just having come home from school with a growling belly and algebra to do, I’d pick over odds and ends inside the coffee cans– pieces of food that were not touched at all. I was a kid who loved vegetables. Pieces of red cabbage were a favorite until the day I pierced the roof of my mouth with what was a tie for a loaf of bread that Dotty had nearly killed me with.