lenten journal: carried away


    On a normal Saturday night, I come straight home from work so I can try to sleep since Sunday morning comes early. My job at church requires I make it to an 8:30 am worship service. But last night – even though I knew I was preaching today – was not an ordinary night.

    I left work and drove to Ann and Doug’s house (Doug of support group fame), having been given instructions to shower there (so I didn’t smell like food); Ginger would meet us there and lead a midnight expedition to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (their spelling) in Dedham, a town about twenty miles away, and the closest Krispy Kreme.

    We were on the road by about 10:30. I called the donut shop to see how late they were open and the recorded message said 11:30. We were golden.

    If you have never had a Krispy Kreme doughnut it is truly a thing of beauty. it is shaped like any other donut, but their particular combination of flour, butter, sugar, and yeast (and whatever secret narcotic they add) is as good as it gets. The KK tradition is to make fresh doughnuts all day long in their store. The baking process is doughnut theater: you can see the whole thing. The bakers cut the dough into cute little life preservers, let them rise in clear ovens and then set them free on a river of hot oil. When they have had time to cook on one side, they are summarily flipped over and they float along until both sides are perfectly done. Then they rise from the oil on a slotted conveyor belt that allows them to drain just before they go under a rain of sugar glaze, which coats them perfectly. As they round the corner on the conveyor belt, an employee picks them up by putting a stick in the hole and gently lifting, offering the confectionary wonder to the next person standing in line.

    As you can see, I was ready for a damn doughnut.

    We could see the store about a block ahead of our arrival. The hot light was not on. We pulled up just to see the employees coming out of the store for the night – at 11:00. They closed at 10:30. There we were at Dedham in the middle of the night with a hankering for donuts. We did what any self-respecting New Englander would do: we headed for Dunkin’ Donuts (also their spelling), the official coffee shop of the region. Ginger had a hunch that the one in Stoughton, the next town over, would still be open. Ann, Doug, and I – who had just trusted this woman to get us to Krispy Kreme, trusted her again. At 11:20, we were sitting in the Double D with coffee and donuts. Lots of donuts. I also learned when it’s close to closing time the guy behind the counter gives you twice what you ask for.

    As we drove from one donut shop to the other, Ginger said, “Don’t you just love throwing all sense of adult reason to the wind?”

    “Baby,” I said, “it’s pretty much the way we live everyday.” We all laughed hard.

    We drove a long way to get to the one Krispy Kreme shop in Massachusetts. When we got there and it was closed, we ended up in one of the who-knows-how-many Dunkin’ Donuts shops. Driving from Marshfield to Hanover on my way to church this morning I passed six of them – in twelve miles. We got end-of-the-day donuts for free and four cups of good coffee (always good coffee at the Double D), and we made an indelible memory even though – or perhaps because – things didn’t go as planned.

    The point was going together.

    My blog buddy, Mark, sent me a link to Improv Everywhere (which, when typed like a web address looks like Improve Everywhere), a group committed to creating scenes of “joy and chaos” anywhere they can. My kind of people. Their last “mission” was to organize a group of sixty people who checked their book bags at the Strand Bookstore in New York, each with a cell phone inside. Another sixty waited down the block and began dialing the numbers at a specified time and in a specified pattern to create a cell phone symphony. The writer said they got the idea when they heard a phone go off randomly in a book bag one day. Even the security guard smiled as the music began. The account of the incident shows the kind of planning and cooperation it took to create the kind of joyful chaos they were after.

    Those kinds of memories don’t just happen.

    We don’t usually see Ann and Doug after ten on a Saturday night. Ginger, Ann, and I all have church jobs on Sunday; Doug goes to church for free. I don’t normally think about anything other than cleaning up the kitchen after our busiest night of the week and heading home any more than most people think of a making an orchestra out of a bunch of cell phones in book bags.

    Thank God for dreamers, for artists, for lovers of donuts who don’t look at the clock, or what needs to happen next, but look at the rest of us and say, “Why not?”

    Thank God Ginger doesn’t just dream that way occasionally. She’s always got some crazy idea, many of which involve late night food. It’s one of the reasons I love her.

    I fell asleep as we were driving home, even after I had eaten two donuts and had a medium Turbo Hot (coffee with a shot of espresso). This morning came early and I spent a lot of this afternoon taking a nap. I woke up thinking about our late night donut run.

    When I lived in Dallas years ago, there was a billboard over Central Expressway that said, “People that never get carried away should be.”

    Carried away. The way a coach gets carried off the field after an upset win. The way a raft is pulled down the river. The way four friends drive off into the night in search of donuts and memories.

    Yeah – like that.



    1. Seven months pregnant with number five, I fell asleep on my uncle’s couch while visiting him in South Carolina. Uncle George woke me up at midnight, saying, “Bethie, Bethie, ya gotta try this! Wake up and try this!”

      It was a hot Krispy Kreme, straight from the shop down the street. It was heaven. I ate three, and the subsequent baby that appeared has had a serious jones for donuts most every day of his life.

      Donut runs are good. You go, Ginger…

    2. Reminds me of the days when my friends and I would randomly go somewhere and just do something.

      Nowadays it is harder but fortunately, my wife doesn’t mind the occasional swift turn of the steering wheel in a different direction.

    3. Here in the KC metro we’ve probably got as many Kripsy Kreme’s as you have Dunkin Donuts. Although we’ve got Dunkin Donuts too. Plus they sell them in all the grocery stores. I’m not so enamored with them. But there was a place in Manhattan, KS when I went to college there that served donuts out the backdoor, in the alley, all night long to silly college students up at all hours studying or whatever it is that college students do in the middle of the night. The bakery (it was a regular bakery during the day that did wedding cakes, cookies, etc.) was called Swannies. And the donuts they sold out the back door were called swannies too. At two o’clock in the morning there just wasn’t anything better. Not even biscuits and gravy at the Country Kitchen. Thanks for the memory.

    4. Sold a few hundred boxes of Krispy Kremes in my high-school fundraising days.

      Got the secret recipe book version, in case you want it, too (have not tried it yet — I live 2 minutes from KK!). They don’t mention crack as an ingredient, though.

      We had 2 Dunkin’ Donuts here; both failed.

    5. Moments like that one are the things that change our lives. Not necessarily in apparent ways, at least not at the time. But years later, you may look back and realize that somehow, something was shaped differently because you uncharacteristically climbed in the car and went off in search of hot doughnuts. p.s. Dunkin’ Donuts makes yummy hot chocolate, too!

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