My mother motioned for saleswomen at department stores like the guys in red shirts that direct the jets off Naval aircraft carriers. She had style, and what you would call panache. As the saleswoman nodded in acknowledgement and began our way, my mother would fart and casually walk away. I would be left standing at a carousel of pants, in a fog….politely asking the woman if she could help me find the tall and chunky Levi’s.
I thought of that story last night as I got ready for sleep in my bedroom. You know how it is when you have out-of-town company at your house all day and you just can’t relax and be yourself? Certain things are left internal all day long, ….things that beg to be heard. As those things escaped and my partner ran for the covers…I thought of my mother. Yes, Jewel…..your memory comes to me as noxious, gaseous fumes permeate any space that I happen to inhabit. Ahhh, it’s kinda like a Norman Rockwell memory.
Yeah, I was traveling down memory lane last night, as I waited on the two Benadryl to kick in and give me respite. My mother giggling as she ran off towards the bra department after dropping a bomb came first. Followed closely by the time that she hit a waiter square in the middle of the eyes with a flying peanut.
I took my mother out to dinner quite a lot. If you want to get to know a parent, take them to a great restaurant, put a hot plate of food in front of them and start asking questions. I tell stories in this blog that came straight from my mother’s mouth, in between mouthfuls of chicken parmesan of course. If your parents are alive and you don’t know about the first time they went on a date, or about how they bought their all-time favorite car…then you are missing a fantastic opportunity. An opportunity to try to know them as a friend and not just a parent.
The all-time faux pas for any waiter was really just an error in math. If you are approaching three people at a table, that bread basket BETTER have three rolls in it. See how simple that is? I actually verbalized, “Oh brother,” because I knew what was going to happen next….or did I??
In 2001, I took Jewel, my mother, to a local restaurant in Fort Worth where part of their thing was to have a pail of peanuts on every table to shell and eat. That’s always a sign of a classy place to me if they give you, the diner, some physical task to perform while you wait on your dinner to arrive.
The waiter dropped the bread basket on the table and trotted off toward the bar. “What are we supposed to do with this?” Jewel asked. Well, I said, do what you do best and motion for him to come back over here. With that she started flailing about (like aforementioned Navy guy). The waiter acknowledged my mother by simply holding up his right pointer finger…as if to say “in a minute.”
The waiter was laughing and engaging other members of the wait staff by the bar in a raucous conversation….he turned his back on my mother. With that Jewel reached into the classy, metal pot on our table…that sat beside the wholly inadequate, and evenly numbered basket of bread. She retrieved the single largest peanut she could find and in one swift motion sent the legume hurdling across the restaurant. It sailed at a speed where one would imagine it left the hand of Nolan Ryan, not an eighty year old woman.
One of the other waiters must have told our guy that a peanut the size of a VW was coming his way, because he whipped around towards our table. The head whip came at the exact moment the peanut invaded his personal space. PLOP! It hit the poor kid right between his wide-open eyes!! His friends fell out about the place, laughing hysterically. All the poor kid could see was my mother, again in the background, waving him to our table. All I could think of was whether the waiter’s spit was going to add any flavor to the baked potato that I had ordered.
The waiter came back to our table and my mother explained the simple math problem of two rolls and three diners. What she lacked in tact, she made up for in humor and a smile. “Now young man, I am telling you this for the next guy.” For the next guy was a term I had grown fond of over the years. Learn how to count change back…for the next guy. Always bring the ketchup with the french fries….for the next guy. Take that peanut to the head…for the next guy.
It seems odd to me, and for sure to you, that I think of my mother at the same time as peanuts and flatulence. I do get that. But I wouldn’t change it for a second. I knew my mother, with all her faults and quirks. I knew her as a parent and as a buddy.
I told the saleswoman she might wanna get some air freshener at the register, her department smelled kinda funky, like bad Tex-Mex. I am not being critical of you I said….I only tell you this for the next guy.