Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sweeter than a turkey?

               I’m in Maine a few weeks ago, sitting at a cute little overpriced bistro called “The Salt Lick”, which sounds more country than I would have imagined in Southern Maine.  Although, if I were being honest, I always felt Maine was like Mississippi with snow when I lived in Massachusetts several years ago. 
             Normally I don’t answer the phone when it rings as it is rude, in my opinion, to do so while dining.  However, seeing as how my Daddy had been left to his own devices in California while I was gone, I immediately answered hoping the query would be mundane and not involve anyone that had taken an oath; either Hippocratic or “to Serve and Protect”.
“Where’s your stool softener?” he bellowed into the phone loud enough that my table mates could hear him without the utilization of the speakerphone option.
“I don’t have…that,” I said, at once disgusted and desperate to erase the picture forming in my mind.  “What is the problem?”
“I haven’t dirtied in about 6 days,” he yelled.  Deciding I wanted this conversation to end post haste or even faster I took the bull by the horns and proceeded to say in one breath, “That’s not true I haven’t been gone for 6 days and I can assure you you’ve never missed a day I don’t use it I don’t need it I’m just lucky that’s rude you need to go across the street to the grocery store yes the Mexican one and buy that product if you are in that great of a need yes they speak English no I don’t know how to say softener in Spanish that’s almost racist why are you talking so loud unless you or the house are on fire I have to go because I’m eating remember I’m 3 hours ahead of you no you shouldn’t eat lunch yet it’s not noon where you are yes it’s good but you wouldn’t like it because its sorta fancy yes I’ll probably have lobster tonight I know you could eat one the size of small dog and I promise I’ll talk to you later tonight love you bye.”  Good thing I played trumpet in band all through school.  Circle-breathing does wonders in all sorts of situations.
This is just another example of my father’s inability to do anything quietly or discreetly.  He has no issue discussing his many bodily functions regardless of our location or relationship with those within earshot.  And if you know my Daddy everyone is within earshot.  And I mean everyone.  His hearing has gotten worse over the years and now he feels sure you can only hear him if he can hear himself.  And don’t bother asking him to whisper as he doesn’t understand that concept.  His version of whispering is him lowering his speaking voice an octave but with no discernible change in his volume. 
This poses no issue at home but becomes somewhat nerve-wracking when we are out and about like this morning.  We were eating at our favorite brunch spot and as he had decimated his eggs, sausage, biscuit and gravy, he was commenting on everyone around us.  Under normal circumstances, this is normal diner chitchat but then he started to say things like, “That old man with the jiggling legs and the shaky arms sure is eating a bunch.  I wonder how much longer he’s gonna live?  He looks old as Methusaleh.”  Or “That Messican (redneck for Hispanic) lady sure is being a turd.  She’s arguing with that waiter about the table.  She ought to sit her bubble-butt down somewhere.”
And it wasn’t so much that I disagreed with what he said, that old man was 130 if he was a day; he looked like he had done his student teaching when Adam and Eve were in Pre-K.  And that little woman, whose butt did in fact resemble a large bubble, was being extremely rude, but it’s just not polite to say things like that out loud.  A good Baptist does it in the confines of their house or at least in the fellowship hall at church.  He may have been confused because of the food.  You know the rule, if gossip is shared over breakfast items or a cheese-covered casserole, its called fellowship.  For those Southern Baptists who are offended by what I just said, please refrain from talking about me until you can do it in a group, with food, and have a proper prayer circle about the condition of my soul now that I live in the land of the heathen.
Which brings me to my next point.  My father is still in denial about where he now lives.  He realizes that California is not Alabama but doesn’t understand why it can’t be.  Por ejemplo (which is Spanish) we went in search of meatloaf yesterday and when I found that plus lemon icebox pie, he didn't seem surprised although I was; he seemed only to be concerned about the lack of available sweet tea.  I informed him that outside of the South you can’t get sweet tea unless it’s fruit-flavored.  Even in the South sometimes you can’t get sweet tea.  Of course, what do I know seeing as I have only lived outside of the South since 2002 and he hasn’t?  Every time we go to a restaurant, he orders sweet tea and has one of two reactions.  If they say they don’t have it he questions their right to live in America and breathe the same free air that he breathes.  If they say they have it and he orders it and its fruit flavored, he seems surprised and loudly questions the American-ness of the entire dining establishment and adjacent stores in the strip mall. 
Prior to leaving for my trip I cooked up a storm to ensure he had enough pre-made meals to get him through a nuclear winter, or at least the 8 days I would be gone.  If I give him enough meatloaf, taters and greens he seems to not notice there is no sweet tea and he feels more at home. 
When I returned I found that he had not eaten all the food I made.  Apparently he had grown tired of eating the fried turkey dinners I had also made from Thanksgiving and I noticed several contraband Chinese take-out containers and a fortune cookie in the garbage can when I emptied it into the bin.  Apparently he had ventured out from the house.  When I questioned the containers he insisted that he had only gone to the “messican” grocery store and had ventured no further. He said he guessed the containers were left over from the previous tenants although I have lived here since June and he since September.
So, the battle continues in our fight for his health.  He swears I’m trying to starve him.  Today we ate brunch around 9:30.  At 11:00 a.m. he said, “It’s time for dinner.”  My response was that it might in fact be 11:00 but he had only recently eaten and there was no way he was actually hungry, adding, “You haven’t truly been hungry since 1957.”
He said, “The way you starve me, people’ll be able to count my ribs pretty soon.”  I replied that would only be at a BBQ joint as his body’s ribs were firmly encased in several layers of pudge and then I poked his belly which makes him giggle uncontrollably.  It’s hilarious.  I should tape it for YouTube.   
And after he made a strange announcement at brunch, I began to wonder if he had frequented the donut shop across the street.  See, when my Daddy has done something he shouldn’t he makes a random statement to the effect that he has, in fact, NOT done something.  When he announced, apropos of nothing, that he had NOT eaten any donuts while I was gone, I immediately became suspicious and skimmed his diabetic diary entries he keeps for his doctor.  I noticed several spikes in several days.  When I questioned one particular spike from 130 to 253 over the course of 4 hours one day, he spent considerable time trying to convince me that the turkey had caused the increase and that was why he didn’t eat the rest of it.  Silly me, how did I not know turkey was a dessert?

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