One of my best friends - let's call her T-Bone - chefs it up in one of the more expensive restaurants in Tallahassee. When she's done crafting crab cakes and smoking salmon, she generally comes over to my place in the evening to complain about her love life, drink Natty Lite, praise indie rock bands, and mooch my cable tv.
Last night, I asked if she'd be willing to chop the veggies for a chicken soup I've got cooking at home in the crockpot as we speak, to save me some time this morning. Since the only thing she loves more than bearded boys with pot bellies is cooking, she agreed. It's funny; I've spent my time in commercial kitchens and my mama can put food on the table that will bring a tear of joy to your eye, but I'm no expert. When I prep my own carrots and celery, we're talking chunks. T-Bone, more than a little drunk, quickly reduced my ingredients to perfectly sized, nearly identical bits. She disapproved of the sorry-looking yellow squash I bought, but, like a good kitchen worker, she made an obscene gesture with it and then sliced it beautifully.
You'd never look at T-Bone and think, "professional chef". You'd never look at any of my friends and think, "grade school teacher" "published author" "grocery store manager" or "environmental scientist". There's something about hard won, long-practiced skill wrapped in a hooligan shell that brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. We are more than we appear.