New friends vs. old friends

Archived | September 18, 2012 | By

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. Jearlyn and Jevetta’s “Let the Good Times Roll” was playing when my friend Frank leaned over the Scrabble board and whispered, “Y’all speak Chinese?” in a Southern accent. He’s done this before, mostly over the phone. I don’t really get it but it always makes me laugh. And so does Frank.
Whatever they say about new friends vs. old friends, disregard it. They’re both good, for different reasons. What’s nice about an old friend is that they’ve witnessed you over time, and can remind you of a bad decision you made way back , or how your hair looked in 1977, or how you really did make it through rehab or therapy or the Twelve Steps. Or graduate school. They remind you of who you are, over and over, by reminding you of who you were, and by showing up now and then for coffee, for dinner, for a short stay as autumn approaches.
I’ve known Frank for more than a decade, and this was his first real visit. We met at a writing camp in Vermont and have kept in touch all this time. Seems he’s needed some down time lately, and chose Minnesota as his place of retreat. It was wonderful to see him, and we spent a good part of the weekend walking and talking and interrupting each other and arguing about proper pronunciations and what are the capitols of what states. Mr. Sundberg enjoyed him, too, and I was able to get a few chores done here and there while the two of them talked about when they were young and why red wine is better and how to properly chop down a tree.
Frank hasn’t changed much. He’s a bit gray, a handsome man, and talkative and kind and full of ideas. He stays away from bread and sugar now (we had to visit the store several times as my kitchen is full up with bread and sugar) and he sleeps a bit more. But he is still Frank, my writer friend from New York, who taught me the word “gurgurgish.” When I asked him what it meant, he replied, “Whatever whomever uses it wants it to mean.” I think a lot of words are like that. Like “friend.” And “See you soon.”
Perfect for the turn toward autumn, these bars are piled up with coconut and nuts and chips. Try them with a mug of hot chocolate, or a cup of cider.
Seven­-layer Bars
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. graham crackers, crushed
1 (6 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 (6 oz.) pkg. butterscotch morsels
1 (3 1/2 oz.) can flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In saucepan melt butter; stir in graham crackers. Pat mixture evenly into bottom of 13x9x2 inch ungreased pan. Layer in order chocolate pieces, butterscotch pieces, coconut and pecans.
Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over all.
Bake in 350 oven for 30 minutes or until done. Cut into bars. Makes 36.