Schedules drive life, providing rhythm and security. However, the best plan can turn out to have an oversight. In war, this could mean the difference in conquering or being conquered. At a chili cook-off, the stakes are minimal but humorously instructive. Recently, downtown Hopkinsville hosted this popular event. You pay a dollar, get a cup and spoon, and head off to as many booths as time and appetite will allow.
Last year, Tandy and I went with her brother Brad and his wife Janell. We decided to make this year a repeat. However, this time, the cook-off started at 4:00. On a fairly hot August day, the thought of sampling chili sounded better after 5:30, with the assumption that the event would roll on until twilight, or at least 7:00.
About 5:45 we ambled onto the grounds and commenced. Booths were already running low on chili, and a few had run out or were about to. There was no cause for panic, and we even chatted along the way serendipitously with familiar faces while making a serious effort to stay in the long line moving from booth to booth.
Clearly, the chili was disappearing fast, so that meant a strategy other than pure chili tasting. Last year, it was routine to decline the chips, crackers, cheese, or sour cream that many booths offered as toppings. This time, in order to pull together an experience more like a bit-by-bit meal, we added toppings.
One frequented spot that shut down early was our own HCC booth, run by the student veteran organization. SVO leader, Garry Klemm, says, “Wayne Rhoades was the primary cook.” Wayne runs the VA office at our Fort Campbell campus. Garry said that the chili was so good that they “had many people returning for second, or even third, helpings.” No wonder their chili ran out before we got to them.
By 6:15, booth after booth was shutting down. There we were, having scraped together a modest, All-American meal, with the sun lower in the sky, and glad of that. As we stood at the far end of the grounds, with the crowd quickly waning, up walked William Turner. I had just seen William’s black and white photo from the mid-1960s in the Auditorium Building gallery as part of the HCC 50th anniversary remembrances.
William was buoyant and humorous as always. How can someone study a subject as grim as history, and war, and political battles, yet be such a free spirit? Maybe it’s what historians do to survive—they sharpen their wit. Brad told William, “You were one of my two favorite professors, you and Betty Adams.” William replied, “It’s a real honor to be named with Betty Adams!”
Taking our leave, we headed to the car and home. The cook-off proved again the cliché, “The early bird gets the worm.” It also demonstrated the business adage about “supply and demand.” The event flyer had not indicated an ending time, thus the aforementioned thought that twilight would still be a time of samples unending. Here is an idiom: “All good things must end.” I started to call it a cliché but then noticed when Googling that some call it an idiom, which led to surfing on the difference between clichés and idioms. I leave you to your own exploration on that.
Next year’s schedule could be a challenge. We might just have to put on some sunscreen and get out there by 5:00.