“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Always up for a culinary adventure, DooDaddy was eager to try the hot chicken at Jackie’s Dream, the soul food mecca on McCalla Avenue. So we picked up Cousin David, DooDaddy’s uber-hip, downtown-dwelling, of-the-moment foodie and first cousin, and headed to East Knoxville.

DooDaddy artfully dodged some dangerous potholes in the parking lot as he steered his walker in the door of what looks like a juke joint on the outside and smells like Heaven when you open the door. One look at the menu of Southern comfort food, and DooDaddy was home.

As we pondered the selections, debating the merits of collard greens over fried okra, yams versus mashed potatoes and cornbread or rolls (why not both?), our conversation inevitably turned to politics.

The Republican debate the night before had sunk to new lows with Lil’ Marco and Lyin’ Ted ganging up on Big Donald. Mitt Romney had just jumped on the Trump-bashing bandwagon, perhaps angling for a pivotal role in a brokered convention.

One thing I have always loved about my father is his open-mindedness and his willingness to see things from all sides. When I was growing up, we had lively discussions about politics and religion around the dinner table (although the meals were not as mouthwatering as Jackie’s – Gmamma didn’t do fried). DooDaddy would give his opinion, and then I’d ask him for the counterpoint. He’d oblige me and give an equally articulate summation of other side of the argument. He would have made a fine attorney, courtly and eloquent in his seersucker suit. So I didn’t get the memo that some folks don’t want to talk politics, because to disagree means you’re wrong.

Cousin David is an accomplished architect, once a partner of Frank Gehry. David spent most of his career in Los Angeles and is our family’s token left-wing liberal. He opined about Hillary Clinton being the “smartest person running for president,” and DooDaddy listened politely.

Then we turned our attention to fried green tomatoes and green tomato jam, sweet tea and, of course, hot chicken.

Between bites, DooDaddy explained why he early voted for The Donald and why he wishes the GOP would quit pandering to the far right and let go of polarizing issues like abortion. Cousin David says DooDaddy has always been a closet liberal on civil liberties.

It’s not complicated. DooDaddy is in favor of capitalism, patriotism and the government staying the hell out of our personal lives. And pass the pinto beans, please.

David, to his credit, is a wonderful listener, just like my father, perhaps because their mothers were such great talkers. Picture six sisters raised in Fayetteville, Tenn. Might as well have been Mayberry R.F.D. Because of their shared context, DooDaddy and Cousin David have a great deal of mutual respect, despite their opposing political views.

These cousins can always find common ground over fried chicken. Maybe it’s a Southern thing. The only fuss is about who gets the last bite of honeybun cake.


DooDaddy and Cousin David at Jackie’s Dream