Andrew Jackson pulled his pickup truck into the last empty parking spot in front of the café and turned off the engine. He took off his sunglasses and laid them carefully on the dashboard, then opened the door and stepped out onto the street.
A grey Chevy Silverado sped by and honked twice, once in greeting and once in goodbye. Andrew paused for a second, wondering whose truck it was, then raised a hand in a belated gesture of acknowledgment. Whoever. Doesn’t really matter, he thought. He slammed the truck door closed and headed into the café.
Grant Toews, Bob Bargen and Jake Robertson were already seated at Andrew’s usual table, by the window. They nodded in greeting as Andrew pulled the last empty chair out and sat down. He picked up the empty coffee cup and held it out to the server who had magically appeared at his elbow and the young lad poured him a steaming cup of brew.
“I’ll have my usual,” Andrew said.
“Very good,” said the boy and turned away.
“Wait a minute,” said Andrew, and the boy turned back. “Do you know how to butter toast?” said Andrew.
The boy looked puzzled “Yes,” he said. “Yes I do.”
“Do you really though?” said Andrew. He pointed at a piece of toast still lying on Grant’s plate. “Would you say that that piece of toast is buttered?”
The lad took a second. “It has butter on it,” he said uncertainly.
“Good answer,” said Andrew. “It has butter on it, indeed. However, if you look closely son, you will see that it also does NOT have butter on it. Those two things are true at the same time. There is a life lesson in that for you. Two opposite things can be true at the same time. That piece of toast is buttered, yes, in the centre, but it is not buttered at the edges. Do you see what I am getting at?”
“You want your toast buttered all the way to the edge?”
“Exactly,” said Andrew. “We understand each other. And you look like the kind of person I can trust, which is not always the case with servers in this establishment. Last week I got an order of toast which, as far as I could tell, the kitchen staff had laid next to a pound of butter for 10 seconds and assumed that some of the butter would migrate by osmosis onto the surface of the bread, which of course it did not. The server then brought me that toast and tried to pass it off as buttered. Needless to say I had to send him back to the kitchen with a stern warning not to let it happen again. I hope we can avoid a repeat of that little episode this morning.”
The server nodded agreeably and made as though to leave, then turned back a second time. “Just to be clear,” he said, “in your opinion Mr. Jackson, would it be possible for there to be too much butter on a piece of toast?”
Andrew pondered that for a moment. “Truthfully,” he said, “I have never considered that possibility. I suppose it is a possibility though. In the same way that you might have a day with too much sunshine or a night with too much sleep you might also have a piece of toast with too much butter. But I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s not likely to happen and if it does, all I will need is another piece of toast so I can make a toast and butter sandwich.”
“Very good,” said the young lad and headed back to the kitchen.
“Wow,” said Grant when the boy had gone. “I could grind flour, bake bread, slice it, put it in the toaster, toast it, butter it and eat it in the time it takes you to order a slice of toast.”
“But would your toast be properly buttered?” said Andrew. “That is the question.”
“I have to agree with Andrew,” said Bob. “Toast is, in its pure form, simply a delivery vehicle for butter. So the only pertinent question is, does it deliver?”
“And is it burnt?” said Jake. “That’s another pertinent question.”
“Of course,” said Andrew. “Nobody wants burnt toast. Except Frank Friesen. And Frank also puts ketchup and mustard on pizza so clearly he’s insane.”
There was a long moment of silence.
“So, are we going to flood this year or not?” said Bob at length.
“Yup,” said Grant.
“Nope,” said Jake.
“Could go either way,” said Andrew.
Bob nodded. “That’s exactly what I think,” he said. “Good that we’re all on the same page.”
Andrew raised his mug. “Here’s to spring,” he said.
“Spring,” said Grant. “Always in the same place, right around the corner.”