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Dinner at the Imels

What happens when you find out you have been invited
to dinner but you have already eaten?

While Bonnie and I were living at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, around 1980, we made contact with a former college friend: Blake Imel.

Blake came across as a good olí farm boy but he was really smart. After earning his bachelor of science from Purdue he went on to obtain a masters degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctorate {PhD} from the University of Berkeley in California. He was now holding an upper level management position in the Department of Agriculture. Blake and his wife Joy were living in a Washington area condo, and they invited Bonnie and I over.

Our invite was for something like 7:30 PM. Bonnie and I decided that, at 7:30, it must be for drinks and snacks, and likely followed by playing cards or just chatting. But it was one of those nights and Bonnie and I were scrambling to get there on time. We hadnít had a chance to eat so we stopped on the way at a fast food place for burgers and fries.

Very shortly after we arrived, Blake announced that he was about to start our grilled chicken dinner. Bonnie and I looked at each other while wondering how in heaven's name we were ever going to eat dinner again, having eaten less than 30 minutes before.

Blake soon emerged from their kitchen area with chicken and his grilling supplies and equipment. Because they lived on something like the fifth floor of the condo, Blake would have to go up to the tenth floor roof where grilling was allowed. I donít recall what Bonnie and I did at this point, but we probably visited the bathroom to gag ourselves (unsuccessfully) into throwing up and making stomach room for chicken.

Blake came back down shortly, apologizing mightily because the charcoal just would not catch fire, but promising a solution. Bonnie and I, having been given a 30 minute reprieve, were very generous in assuring Blake not to worry.

To cut to the point: That night Blake had every possible type of calamity that could happen to a griller, and we didnít eat until around 11:30, which was more than fine with Bonnie and me. We left with our secret intact.

Epilogue: Blake passed away in 1997, of a heart attack as I recall. He was very well regarded, not only by his friends, but also by his Department of Agriculture associates. Way, way too young. RIP dear Blake.

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