by James Glaser
When I first moved to Northome, Minnesota, I was just that normal type of guy. OK OK, but I was more normal than I am now. I would get up in the morning and head over to Kay's Cafe which is Linda's Cafe that she calls, Ellen's Cafe. Linda is Ellen and that is why she calls Linda's Cafe, Ellen's, but the sign says Kay's Cafe. See it isn't just me, Northome does that to you.
Well each morning I would have two eggs over easy, hash browns, and toast. In those days I was drinking regular coffee. One nasty, wet, and dark gray day, Linda Asked me if I would like to try one of her cinnamon rolls and I did. It was like nothing I ever had before. It felt like the sun had come out and the day was warm and dry. That feeling stayed with me for hours. Let me tell you, one roll doesn't hook you, it is a gradual thing that sneaks up on you. After a few weeks I found that eggs were a thing of the past and each day I would wake thinking of those rolls.
Either Linda is smart, or just very cruel. She only makes one small pan of those rolls, so you have to get there early. I found myself getting up earlier and earlier to insure I would get one. Going in early like that introduced me to the other "roll people," who were not that happy to see another person that wanted this limited commodity.
I knew things were getting bad when my daughter and Granddaughter came up and wanted to go in for rolls with me. All the way to Linda's I was thinking, "what if there were not three left?" and I knew I had a problem when I thought that they could split one if there were only two.
I remember the morning that I got there kind of late and right away asked for a roll. About the same time Dolly Fisher asked Kay (not the Kay on the sign) that was waitressing for one. Linda said that there was only one left and like a little kid I said "I asked for it first." Dolly gave me the "fish eye" and a couple days later when I met her coming out of the bank, she gave me the cold shoulder and wouldn't say hi.
There was one summer morning that I realized that there were several of us in real trouble with these rolls. I got to the cafe at 5:30 am, so as to be first. Well there were already about 5 people ahead of me and I did the math and felt good knowing that I would get one. The rolls go in the oven at about 5:45 and are done at 6:12. So everyone sits and drinks coffee until then. Well this morning Linda thought that she would be funny and when the bell went off she just kept talking and lit up a smoke. Everyone in the place knew that was the "roll bell", and we all started to panic, but nobody wanted to let on how anxious they were, until we all burst out with, "Linda the Rolls!" I have to hand it to her, Linda is smooth, she jumps yelling "OH NO", goes onto the kitchen and yells out that the rolls are burned. A few minutes later she comes out laughing, but when she saw our faces, she knew that none of us could see the humor in her prank. The rolls were just fine, she had set the bell early.
After that morning it was only a matter of time before we started our chapter of R.A. Rolls Anonymous.
It has been over a year now, a real rough year. I went cold turkey and let me tell you that was hard. Dolly did the taper off routine, where she would have just half a roll, giving the other half to a friend. I couldn't handle that slow reduction. About nine months out I had a slip, but only just that one. Some times, on a bright sunny day, down by the lake, that smell of fresh baked rolls will hit me out of the blue. A quick swim in that clear cool water will do the trick and I am back on the right path.
Like I said, just that one slip and other than the extra thirty pounds those rolls left me with, they are a thing of the past. It was one of life's learning experiences that I can do with out. Some people can handle a roll now and then, but I bet not one of Linda's.
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