It’s January. My brother in law and his practically Korean wife, iLill, want to go out to dinner. They haven’t seen us since Thanksgiving. They’ve been trying to get a hold of us every holiday since. But I do not respond. This is not my business, I say. If you want to get in contact with us, you go through Musette, your blood relative. I’m just a technicality. Do not deal with me directly. I hardly ever even talk to my own family.

That’s what I tell iLill when she confronts me on the matter. We’re standing outside of a restaurant called Thighs and Pies. There is a thirty minute wait to get in. We had to walk thirteen minutes from the train to get here. I had one earbud in connected to my phone’s navigation system. It was directing us towards the big, nice, black woman who was standing watch out front of the restaurant.

Calling our name, she guides us to a table right next to the door. There is a space heater on the bench to keep us warm. Musette’s back is hurting. She pulled it lifting a box of dikon at work. She wasn’t even supposed to be working that day, but the person she has been training didn’t feel up to the task of working on his own yet.

iLill and I order the same thing, a chicken basket. I almost got the chicken biscuit because it came with a fried chicken cutlet which doesn’t have bones. The chicken basket comes with three pieces of fried chicken, all with bones. There is also a biscuit in the basket. It comes with a side. I choose macaroni and cheese. iLill gets cheesy grits. I was going to get hush puppies. I don’t know if I’ve ever had those before. But then I saw the macaroni on someone’s plate and decided that I had to have it. It looks like it goes so good with the chicken. It’s not KFC style, served in a little styrofoam cup. It’s on the plate, a real part of the meal.

Musette and Andrew, my brother in law both get the chicken and waffles. I almost got that, but you know how I love biscuits. There’s no gravy on them, but come on dude, I’m not a slob. I just like that sausage gravy. What’s so wrong with that. I’ll tell you what. Nothing. Come on, man; nothing is wrong with a man who likes sausage gravy. It doesn’t make you into the Endless, Despair. You’re still a Dream boat in our eyes. Don’t worry about it. Get what makes you happy, boy. Do yourself a favor. Treat yourself.

And anyways, the chicken and waffles come with cranberries, which, like, who wants that? This isn’t Thanksgiving. We want that savory sausage gravy. iLill wants them grits. Don’t beat a girl down for what she likes. She’s Korean. Andrew’s not. He’s Musette’s brother in law. Give him some slack. He just lost his job. Now he works at a comic book shop. The new editions come out on Wednsday.

It’s the busiest day for us, he says. People line up outside, waiting to get in. Early morning shifts, and I still stay up until four.

Hey, I hear you. I’m the same way. Don’t beat yourself up, boy. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Don’t give yourself a hard time. You can be your own worst enemy. Don’t get in your own way. Grab life by the horns and ride it through the china shop of your flesh. Make a mess. Don’t let your boss give you shit. Become Jet Black. Embrace the dark side. Enjoy yourself. Let your emotions bloom. It’s good for you.

Originally published at on January 10, 2016.