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Friday, March 20, 2009

Dinner at Home

I love going to my mother and father's house for dinner.

Not necessarily because it's all warm and cozy, (it isn't-- I don't think they've ever turned the thermostat above 59 degrees), or because the cookin' is "just the way I like it," (it isn't-- there were both mushrooms and olives in the pasta, and I hate both with a vocal passion) or because everybody gets along so well, (yeah), but because it's usually a genuinely funny experience. At least, it is when the frigid air isn't fraught with tension because of some topic that is not allowed to be spoken about (a pregnancy, an illness, a new purchase, a death, a misfortune, a faux pas, a coincidence, a situation, a blood test, a new Nabisco product.)

Tonight was pretty enjoyable by typical standards. Mrs. Apron was having a much-needed night out with two of her friends from her grad school program, and so I, not especially wanting to be home in our new house alone with the dog, invited myself over to my parents house. My sister did the same, at my suggestion.

SIS: "Well, do you think they'd want me there?"

(She's there for dinner at least six weekends a month.)

ME: "The fuck do you care? Just come over."

SIS: "Do you think Daddy will make shrimpies?"

Shrimpies. Did I mention that this woman is forty-one?

So, there we were, around the dinner table, just like old times. My other sister was not present, which was also just like old times. Daddy did indeed make "shrimpies" (with mushrooms and olives) and we all consumed our meal contentedly.

ME: "That was great, thank you."

DAD: "Sure, sure."

SIS: "My noodles were very dry." {MOM, DAD & I all turn to look at her.} Well they were.

MOM{motioning to the tub of Keller's}: "Well, there's the butter."

ME: "Maybe you should run them under the faucet."

DAD: "Hey, don' blame me. That's how you asked for them. Of course they're dry, you don' have shit on it."

My father is Israeli, which explains him well enough. My sister, on the other hand, has some kind of esophogeal disorder. I don't know what the fuck it is. Mrs. Apron could explain it to you, she's the Speech Language Pathologist. My sister belches constantly, and ferociously-- like a lion. Because of my sister's gastrointestinal issues, she has to have food prepared in a very specific way, and she doles out meal preparation instructions to our aging parents with Nazi-like efficiency. She's also hypoglycemic and requires feedings at regular and exact intervals.

If you were here and had even a faint pulse, she would also tell you in detail about her abraided cornea, which requires eye drops every half-hour, but she must have applied them ten times between 5:30 and 7:30. She is more regimented than an Annapolis cadet and more full of ridiculous ailments than a Moliere play.

I mentioned that I was having breakfast tomorrow with my other sister.

DAD: "Where?"

ME: "Milkboy's."

DAD: "Do you know about thees other place? Vat it's called? Sexboys?"

{MOM whips her head around and glares at him.}

MOM: "What?!"

DAD: "Say-- Sex-boy?"

ME: "Saxby's."


DAD: "What?!"

ME: "It's called fucking "SAXBY'S" not "Sexboys!" Jesus fucking Christ!"

DAD: "Well, yeah, but, to some foreign-- to someone who just fell off the boat, it's look like "Sex-boys."

MOM: "The only person who just fell off the boat is you."

DAD: "What kind of a name it's is anyways? Sahx-bohs?"


This is the truncated version of this particular conversation. In real-time, it probably went on for around six minutes-- at least long enough to require another application of eye-drops.

The discussion then mercifully turned to the fact that Mrs. Apron's mother is coming to visit us next weekend.

DAD: "Listen, I'm meaning to ask you: what are your thoughts? Is it-- should we be taking her out to dinner when she comes here?"


ME: "What the hell are you asking me for? Do whatever you want to do-- you're adults, aren't you?"

DAD: "Yeah, but I'm talking about what's the manners? What is the manners?"

ME: "What?"

DAD: "What is the right manners?"

ME: "How the fuck should I know? Why don't you write a letter to Miss Manners and ask her?"

DAD: "What? Don't you have any fucking manners?"


ME: "Obviously not."

My sister then excused herself, I assumed, to vomit. My father brought out the coffee and a container of small chocolate cookies.

MOM: "Those are stale, you know."

DAD: "Come on, no they not. See?"

He put one in his mouth and it sounded like he was cracking a walnut.

MOM: "That's disgusting."

DAD: "No it's not! See? I can eat it."

ME: "That's because all your teeth are fake, you could eat a shoe if you wanted."

Upon re-entering the dining room, my sister announced that, while in the bathroom for under three minutes, she hurt her other eye with the cord from her hoodie. My father and I exchanged a regrettable glance and we both started to laugh.

SIS: "Hey-- it's not funny, you assholes." This, of course, made it even funnier and prompted only more laughter.

She stormed out of the room with her Bausch & Lomb bottle which was, by the way, the size of a thimble.

The experts tell us that we regress when we go home-- it's like a time warp or something. And, at least in our case, those experts are right on the money: even Dr. Phil. In our house, nothing changes. The linoleum on the dining room floor is the same as it always was, just like our behavior patterns. My parents age with subtlety-- well, my mother does-- my father doesn't seem to age and, when he does, he won't do it subtlely. Subtlety isn't his his style.

Our final conversation of the night turned to my uncle, who has recently decided to put his house up for sale instead of paying his mortgage payment. The house is located across the street from a Catholic seminary.

MOM: "I'm just not sure he's going to get a million dollars for that house-- I mean, he needs to. Maybe in May, when all the flowers are in bloom and he can open up the pool..."


DAD: "Maybe that church or whatever will buy it-- as a place to fundle, you know-- with the window curtains down."

ME: "Yeah. They could call it 'Sexboys'."

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