Dr. Beauregard pulled his chair up a little closer to me, looked me in the eye, and said, "Sam, I’m afraid your health is pretty good. . . . You could stand to lose a little weight, but without some bad news, I can’t scare you into taking better care of yourself. . . . You’ve got to find some meaning in your life that will motivate you to take better care of your body—something that gets under your skin, something that grabs your imagination, something other than a diet. And only you can figure that out."
So begins "big-boned" Sam McLeod’s search for the meaning of life. Luckily, a mysterious envelope arrives in the mail to distract him. It’s an invitation to a neighborhood reunion where Sam grew up near Nashville, Tennessee. Sam’s wise wife, Annie, insists that her reluctant husband get in the car and make the cross-country trip. "Here’s a map and your itinerary. . . . But you keep your hands off that old girlfriend, you hear me?"
As Sam drives, he tries to work out the meaning of life, just like the doctor ordered. Instead, memories of childhood fill his head. Who would be at the reunion? Weiner? He remembers how Weiner got his name and his lasting fear of buzzards. Would he find a descendant of Big ’Un, the snake as fat as a family-size can of Franco-American spaghetti? And what about Lexi? She wasn’t his girlfriend, no matter what Annie says, but he remembers the summer night they played hide-and-seek. . . . And with these recollections come the smell of his mother’s meatloaf, the taste of spicy pimento cheese, the tang of cold pickled shrimp, and the tart sweetness of strawberry pie, the foods of his Southern childhood.
Does Sam find the meaning of life? Yes, he does, even though he lacks "the emotional intelligence God gave a stinkbug," as Annie so delicately put it. So come along with Sam as he follows his deep-fried roots to a simpler time and place, where mothers nourished their children with much more than ham biscuits, deviled eggs, and tuna noodle casserole with potato chips on top.
A warm, laugh-out-loud funny memoir for anyone who has ever:
• Collected lightning bugs in a quart-size Ball jar
• Been in a watermelon fight
• Fallen asleep to the sound of grown-ups talking on the porch
• Been told you’re eating a bite, whether you like it or not
• Grown up Southern