Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Dead Lion with a Beehive in It

First, you gotta know about Samson, judge of Israel in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, the Christian sacred text.  As a Nazarite, chosen of God, he was expected to remain unshaven, celibate, and righteous, and to avoid alcohol, lust and sin. 
He wasn’t very good at it.

But he did have super strength given to him by God, represented by his long hair.

He wasn’t a very good Nazarite because he had a girlfriend, a philistine girlfriend who got him drunk. And he was probably a proud swaggart*, as well. One night he come home to the town where he stayed and the gates were locked against him.  He tore them out, carried them up the road a few miles, and left them standing there.  Once he killed a thousand soldiers with his bare hands and a donkey’s jawbone. In the end, his girlfriend betrayed him, his long hair was cut; he was captured, tortured, blinded, and set to push a millwheel. In the end, he was taken into the public temple, where all the people had come to see him tormented, and he pulled it down on top of them all, including himself. 

Well, one time Samson killed a lion and later saw the carcass with a hive of bees in it.  He made up a riddle, went into a local tavern and bet thirty guys a suit of clothes each that they couldn’t solve the riddle: "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet" (Judges 14:14). Delilah, that philistine girl, got him drunk, wheedled out the answer and sold it to the guys in the tavern. When Samson came, they gave him the answer and he had to pay up.  He went outside and killed thirty other guys, and took their clothes, the dead guys, to pay his bet. 

The point is, Samson had seen a dead lion with a beehive in it.

Then you gotta know about Full English.  Full English, a local Austin business, serves coffee and breakfast all day every day, sells Shepherd’s Pie to take home and microwave and serves about fifteen tables in a café of bare painted cinderblock walls decorated with unique interpretations of the Union Jack, rainbows and penguins and combinations thereof.  A brief William Blake manifesto decorates a quarter of one wall and paintings, collages, and needlepoint grid the space in a Mondrian of color and form.  Everything looks found; clean, sturdy, functional and delighting, but scrounged, random—found. A nominal Full English comes with a link and a half of sausage, a moderate slab of English bacon (ham), a soft fried egg, two wedges toast, mushrooms and a slice of tomato. With a solid, simple, no-fancy-name coffee that is a regal breakfast, and while not vegan (such options are available), it is especially savory.

Before your order arrives, you are given a small round tin.  In the tin sits a laminated paper heart patched out of a pastel Union Jack with a black block-letter order-number for the wait staff to find your table. The card stands up, weighted by a small plastic clothespin that pulls the heart down into the tin.  The edge of the tin has a flat ring around the inside that is narrower than the card heart which, as a result, rocks in the mouth of the can, its edge balancing on the flat ring’s edge. The tin itself is covered in a paper label, dark green and gold.  The can once contained Lyles Refiner’s Syrup, partially (not 100%?) inverted (so they set the cans on the side? Is it shelved at a thirty-degree angle to allow sediment to settle out over the six to eight months it would take?) refiner’s (do these guys need a special syrup? Does it have some industrial use?) syrup for, and I quote, “sticky puds” (yeah, I know that means puddings, but I know what else it means, too).  And what do the executives at Lyles Refiner’s Syrup Inc. decide is the perfect symbol of their product, the mysteriously canted discrete use sweetener of human buttons, there, on the side of the can, on table after table reproduced in gold with green lines, its feline carcass reclined beneath a cloud of bees?

A dead lion with a beehive in it.

*a swaggering braggart

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