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Darrell Huckaby - Possum not fitting for the president's plate

I was glancing through one of the many newspapers I glance through the other day and a headline caught my eye concerning the time President William Howard Taft came to Atlanta. It seems that a lot of folks were befuddled, amused and downright insulted because the folks who hosted the president served him possum and sweet potatoes for dinner.

Possum for dinner. Imagine that. I bet there aren't many folks reading this column today who have ever eaten possum, for dinner or otherwise, much less served it to guests. I am absolutely certain that none of us would serve it to such a distinguished guest as the president of the United States.

Which raises a pretty interesting question in and of itself. If the president were coming to visit, what would you serve him for supper? If he were coming before Tuesday I would serve him barbecued beef brisket, to make him feel at home. I know that George W. Bush likes barbecue, because he told me so.

If I were hosting this fantasy dinner party after Tuesday's inauguration, I am not sure what I would serve because I have never met Mr. Obama and have no idea about his gastronomical preferences. Plus, we'll all need to walk on eggshells for a while because we don't want to offend the first family by being culturally insensitive.

I do know that I wouldn't serve him possum.

I've had possum, understand, and in my humble opinion, that particular marsupial is much better suited for roadkill than to grace my dining room table - and I don't care how tasty the sweet potatoes might be that are served on the side.

Now my daddy loved possum, but Mama wouldn't cook it for him for the same reason she wouldn't cook chitterlings. It was way too greasy and made the kitchen smell. Daddy had a place to get his possum fix, however. Maxie Maddox invited him over every time she served it to her family.

Maxie Maddox was a friend of our family. Like everyone else in Porterdale, she worked in the mill. Unlike everyone else in Porterdale, she raised 13 children. One of them made a preacher. Another became mayor of the town. I once heard Maxie say of her children, "I wouldn't take million dollars for any of them, but I wouldn't give you two cents for another one."

I only have three children, but I still know exactly where she's coming from.

Possum aside, the idea of serving it to the president of the United States gave me pause. Now I realize that William Howard Taft weighed about 350 pounds and may or may not have once gotten stuck in the White House bath tub, depending on which stories you believe. The folks who invited him to Atlanta probably assumed he would eat anything, but providing a meal for such an important dignitary would probably send most of us into a tizzy.

My lovely wife, Lisa, goes on a shopping and house cleaning binge whenever we are expecting company for supper, even if they are frequent visitors. She once sent me to the store three different times on the same Saturday afternoon because she couldn't decide on the perfect menu for our weekly Trivial Pursuit party. I'd hate to think about what she'd put me through if the president were coming.

Now if I were in charge of the party, I'd keep it simple. I'd fix something that I really liked and make sure that it was a dish I was really comfortable making. My barbecue chicken is about as good as anybody's, for instance, and I've had a lot of luck with low-country seafood boils. Anything that can be served with cornbread is usually a hit at my house. And we'd sit at the kitchen table, if we would fit around it, and I'd let the president drink out of my favorite Walt Disney World glass.

Lisa doesn't share my philosophy of treating guests like home folks, though. She would polish the silver and pull out the good china and crystal - we'd have to wash both of course, because they gather dust most of the year. And she would prepare some fancy dish from her new Paula Deen cookbook.

Some of that stuff ain't bad, but some of it, well, let's just say I'd rather have possum.

The whole thing is a moot point because Barack Obama is going to have way too much on his plate in the coming weeks to come to Conyers and eat off mine. W, on the other hand, might have a little free time, so maybe I'll invite him over for our next Trivial Pursuit party. I haven't had barbecued beef brisket in a while and besides, if W were playing, I might actually have a chance to win.

I would also have a chance to thank him for keeping me safe from the Muslim extremists who have been trying to kill us all for the past seven or eight years.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.