word "concession" can be defined as "something agreed to, usually
grudgingly, as an acknowledgement of defeat." How appropriate, then,
that I was tapped to help operate a concession stand at my daughter's
recent hunt-seat equestrian show at Triple Creek Ranch in Hallsville,
Texas. (Apparently, horse show audiences don't mind their nachos
seasoned with a hint of manure.) Concession stand work is a common
fate of parents whose children seem devoted to hijacking every possible
weekend on the calendar with expensive sporting activities, and I
think the show organizers figured the concession stand was where I
could inflict the least amount of damage. Besides, it would give me
something to do in the hours before and after my daughter's rides,
other than timing myself to see how long I could avoid using the portable
Now, my idea of a concession stand consists of some Skittles, Slim
Jims, and (if you want to be really elaborate) some generic corn chips
dribbled with melted cheese product. However, my fellow "voluntolds"
had more grandiose ideas. We would be offering barbeque sandwiches,
hamburgers, hot dogs, pickles, pretzels, nachos, candy, chips, muffins,
breakfast-biscuit sandwiches, hot chocolate, coffee, and soft drinks.
After seeing the menu plans, I wondered why we didn't just go ahead
and whip up some beluga caviar and foie gras (French for "I can't
believe you're really going to eat that part of a duck.")
To supply the concession stand, we met a few days before the show
at Sam's Club (which is like a Walmart suffering from a hording disorder).
I've never joined Sam's, Costco, or any other wholesale club, because
I rarely feel the urge to buy a 50-gallon drum of peanut butter. I
soon found out why Sam's is so popular, though. For $45 a year, you
can wander around bulk pallets of Q-tips and Vienna Sausages, and
take enough food samples from the friendly ladies stationed at the
end of every aisle to go on a Pepperidge Farm feeding frenzy.
When the day of the show arrived, we were instructed to be at the
venue by the revolting hour of 5:45 AM. (I'm pretty sure selling processed
foods at that time of day violates at least one international treaty.)
Even though I explained to my fellow workers that nobody eats breakfast
before noon on the weekend, we quickly unloaded our provisions, set
up our menu and began heating breakfast sandwiches.
In an attempt to make myself useful, I decided to investigate the
barbeque pit so that I could put my manly grilling skills to work
when it was time for lunch. I was surprised to see that the homemade
cooker was not at all like mine at home. In fact, it was composed
of two rusty steel bathtubs hinged together (I think there were still
rings around the insides), and after I spent about five minutes looking
for the automatic starter button, my wife gently led me away from
the grill and back to my station at the pickle jar.
My greatest success of the day came when we ran out of hamburger buns
and I used one of my mother's old culinary tricks by placing a hamburger
patty on two modified hot dog buns. I called it the "Hot Mommer"-in
her honor. For some reason, it never really took off like I'd hoped,
and after I was caught scratching my back with the pickle tongs, I
was demoted to parking lot attendant.
To compound my discomfort, I was also forced to witness my two older
daughters interacting with members of the hairy-legged teenager species.
At some point in the last few months, boys ceased to be "icky" and
"stinky," except their dad, who is not only icky and stinky, but also
a complete embarrassment to all living organisms, especially when
what qualifies as a cute adolescent male is within a 50-mile radius.
Luckily, my youngest daughter is still able to tolerate me, and she
even occasionally sits on my lap as I assure her that she, too, can
have a boyfriend someday-specifically, the day after my funeral.
Once the show was over, we were all exhausted and, ironically, starving.
My hunger pangs were only somewhat eased by the sense of satisfaction
I felt from taking a slightly incompetent part in one of my daughter's
activities. Luckily, Sam's was a few short minutes away, and I had
an appointment with some sample servers and the Pepperidge Farm Corporation.
© Jase Graves
"Quips and Salsa" March
15 , 2018 column