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Katy Towell

…And Here’s The Brown Sugar.

Katy Towell

Three years ago, I left Kansas for California, taking with me only what I could squeeze into my rusty-but-trusty hatchback. I had a job waiting for me on the other side, but no apartment – my plan being to secure the latter while staying with friends. As luck – or the lack thereof – would have it, however, my hatchback proved more rusty than trusty, dying in a dramatic mess of smoke and oil on the Antelope Valley Freeway just a few days after I had arrived. My plan was going to take a little longer than I had originally thought.

One of my gracious hosts during this period of carpools and living room couch reservations was Wes, whose diet, at the time, was somewhat unorthodox. I remember rows upon rows of empty Pellegrino bottles cluttering his kitchen counter and cabinets, and his refrigerator! It was stocked from top to bottom with nothing but asparagus! I wasn’t one to complain, but Wes must have noticed my shock.

“Yeah, I’ll uh… stop at the store while I’m running errands,” he said with a grin. “What do you usually eat?”

Not being a paragon of healthy eating in those days, I named my favorite breakfast cereal – Quaker Oat Squares (”The brown sugar kind, if they have it…” I specified). Little did I know that Wes would be grocery shopping at Whole Foods, “World’s Leading Natural and Organic Foods Supermarket”. I wouldn’t have realized what that meant had he mentioned it, anyway. We didn’t have organic markets in Kansas, to the best of my knowledge. Where I came from, a supermarket wasn’t a supermarket unless it included all things Lays and Ruffles.

A grocery bag-laden Wes returned home a long while later.

“They didn’t have the kind you wanted,” he said as he dropped the brown paper bags onto the counter space yet uninhabited by green water bottles. “But they had this…”

He reached into one bag and pulled out a box of some all-natural oat-based cereal by an unheard-of brand.

“It’s not square-shaped,” he said very seriously. “But it’s, um…hexagon…shaped.”

He fumbled around inside the bag a second time before promptly plopping another box down on the counter.

“And here’s the brown sugar,” he said with a note of triumph.

I don’t remember whether or not I succeeded in keeping a straight face at the time, but I have laughed about it whenever I’ve thought of it since. Wes tried so hard to make his guest comfortable…even going to the extra effort of picking up brown sugar to go with the organic, hexagon-shaped equivalent of my Quaker Oat Squares.

However great or small the need, Wes was always there to help when he could. I will miss his giving nature and caring spirit.

And it was just fine, Wes. Really. I always liked hexagons better than boring squares, anyway.