March 20, 2014

Friend Donut

For two summers in Charleston, SC, I worked at an independent donut shop. Circus Donuts. It used to be a Burger King. But it was transformed by vintage circus posters, an offbeat couple of donutologists (as they called themselves), and enough donuts to leave me smelling like them each day when I came home and hugged my mom. In the mornings, the place was humming with business and a crew of workers, but in the afternoons I was often left to run the place by myself. And, as is my style, I took it personally. I had heard my boss say, “When there’s time to lean, there’s time to clean,” and I took it to heart. The booths sparkled. The coffee (that I loved to smell but hated to taste) never ran out and the little diner mugs were stacked and ready should a busload of old folks suddenly descend upon me. Times like that, it was *my* donut shop. And when my good friend Jennifer would stop by, I would always conspiratorially place an extra donut on her tray, calling it the friend donut. The one you get for being my friend.
“Friend Donut” is a love song to a friend. It’s about giving your friend the royal treatment. In an imagined future donut shop. Jennifer and I continued to refer to the “friend donut” for years to come. It came to mean “that extra thing you get because you are my friend.”
In recent years I have made a friend named Aaron in my current home of Columbia, SC. He is unusual in his extraordinary appreciation for both friends and donuts. He writes memorable, singable songs of family and friendship for his band Those Lavender Whales. He puts out his friends’ records on a label called Fork and Spoon that he runs with…his friends. He daydreams about opening his own donut shop. He goes for donuts in a nearby town where I once discovered donuts that were surprisingly, emotionally reminiscent of those I once sold at Circus Donuts years ago. So today I offer you this simple version of “Friend Donut,” with cheers and love to friends old and new…and to the royal treatment.
P.S. You can download the audio at my Soundcloud page.

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