In times of Covid and this pandemic, we try to find ways to keep traditions alive and celebrate milestones. Krispy Kreme really came through to help with graduation, providing each Senior with a box of doughnuts free of charge. This year there's no final walk through the hallways, no exchange of yearbooks to sign and say how much you'll miss each other, good luck in the future or record some crazy high school memory that you don't want to forget. As for my Senior, she has received her cap and gown, tassel and chords, but her yearbook and diploma have not made their debut.
While sitting in the long line up 9th Street to Cervantes, I recalled a similar moment that happened in this exact spot more than 20 years ago.
My girlfriend Suzanne and I were on the way to the airport. She remembered, though much too late, that nothing had been purchased for her husband Mark. Whenever Suzanne traveled alone, she always brought Mark a little something from the area. We had five minutes to spare, if that. My mind raced. Shrimp? No, not only would that take too long, who wants to travel with raw shrimp? BBQ Sauce? No, that's more Alabama than Florida. I couldn't come up with any options between Cervantes and Airport. We stopped at the red light.
"What is a Krispy Kreme?" Suzanne asked.
This question made no sense to me. It's a doughnut. As a matter of fact it's THE doughnut in my personal opinion. Surely she was kidding and simply trying to find a way to get me to go in for a bite. Though it is harder to envision today, in that time period those circular lovelies were still a southern secret.
"It's a doughnut. Have you never heard of Krispy Kreme?" I asked.
"No" was her simple but shocking answer.
"Well, we just figured out what you're taking home to Mark!" I responded. One quick turn of the wheel and we were in the parking lot, parked and headed in.
I didn't need any time to decide. My favorite is a Glazed doughnut with Kreme Filling. I ordered one of those, a doughnut of Suzanne's choosing and then we picked out a mini box of four for Mark. Selected, paid, singles half eaten, Mark's box in hand, we returned to the car and zipped off to the airport. Crisis averted!
Suzanne called that night, not just to say that she was safely home, but to ask, "What in the hell is with those doughnuts?"
Great, crisis not averted. Didn't he like them? Seriously, what sane person couldn't love a Krispy Kreme? Was he allergic to sugar and greatness? My mind raced. All I could muster to say was, "He didn't like them?"
"Oh no, he loved them. That's not the issue," she continued.
As I searched for some sense to this situation, Suzanne went on to tell me the story. You see, it seems that when she had a layover in Memphis, the guy running the sandwich shop tried to trade Suzanne for the doughnuts. Before he rang up her order he offered an even exchange. He would trade her sandwich, drink and side for the unopened box of four undisclosed doughnuts. Suzanne explained that these were a gift so she was unable to trade for lunch. She paid, and continued on to her gate.
That may have been enough of a story, but as she checked in at the gate the attendant spotted the box. She offered Suzanne a seat in First Class in exchange for the doughnuts. It had been easy to pay for lunch and retain the gift for Mark, but FIRST CLASS?!! Suzanne loves first class! Suzanne is first class!
Suzanne gave one thought to the fact that Mark was unaware of the doughnuts. She could simply say that we had looked but didn't find anything to bring him. Shrimp could be her savior, presenting the opportunity for details as to how we'd thought of him and looked, but found it too difficult to fly with raw shrimp.
No, there was only one solution. Suzanne turned down First Class, retained the box of sweetness for her sweetie, and begrudgingly walked through first class towards coach.
Tired, disappointed, even sad, Suzanne placed her sweater in the overhead bin. The tiny seat beside hers was already occupied, amply so, by another passenger. Filling the remaining space, which is never enough when you are in coach, she placed the box in her lap. As her body settled, her eyes began to blink more slowly than before. Suzanne critiqued the decisions which led to this point. The still figure sitting next to her pronounced, in a low menacing voice, "You fall asleep and those doughnuts are mine."