Recently my father’s emails have the anthropological value of reminding me, or future me, of what has been stressing me out recently. To wit:
“Start this kind of day, or tomorrow if that applies, with the knowledge that your are listened to, supported, encouraged…and loved by your dad. (I realize that may have little or no effect on rent controls or tenants rights, but it is what I can offer.)”
“You voice is touching a lot of people where they are. You have that gift, even if it is not enabling you to lower you student loan or car payment.”
Then, in another email, he mentions that he and my mom have made a reservation at an Italian restaurant for their 44th wedding anniversary.
This is devastating to me. Bewildering. Confounding. The two most insane people I know have somehow made it through 44 years of marriage–to each other. And here I am, their progeny, single and childless at 39. The apple falls far from the tree, rolls down the hill, and drowns in a pond.
Still, I have to pretend to be happy for them. So I call Dad. He doesn’t answer, so I call Mom.
Jenny: Hi! I just called Dad but he didn’t answer.
Rose: He’s taking a nap. He never answers his phone. I’m tempted to put it on a chain around his neck. I had a question for him yesterday and I couldn’t reach him.
Jenny: What’s the restaurant Dad mentioned?
Rose: It’s a really high-end one. What makes it high end is what the plates cost. We looked at the menu on the Internet. I’m going to have parmesan with polenta and these little mushrooms, and your dad is going to have the strip steak. I think we’ll have a bottle of red wine or prosecco, one or the other. And I think your dad is going to have a Caesar salad. I called ahead and we’re going to the 6:30 sitting. It will probably cost $120. Your [aunt] said to me, are you going to split it? I said, no, we’re going to have one plate each. I’m going to wear the midnight blue dress that you gave me.
Then she insists on waking up Dad.
Jenny: You don’t have to wake him up!
Rose (determined): He’ll be really upset if he misses a call from you.
In the background I hear her waking up my father.
Rose: It’s your daughter.
Dave (weakly): My daughter?
Rose: Your daughter. You have a daughter.
Dad, who is surely lying in bed, gets on the phone to give me his version of their planned dinner.
Dave: It’s a nice place. The wine is expensive, though. They had wines for $85 at the top end.
Jenny: What are you going to have?
Dave: They have a steak dish. Mom’s gonna get a … OK, I forget the name of it now. But it’s veal. She’s got a nice dress. I got out a pair of old slacks that I fit into. I ironed a shirt. I don’t think I’m going to bother with a tie. We’re going to go fairly early. We’re going to go at 6:30.
And then, to my utter delight, Dad informs me of something he’s recently discovered on the Internet: animal videos. He even puts on his serious voice to explain them to me.
Dave: You can look on YouTube and there’s a video of a woman training a cat, and they can do circus-performing stunts. I saw her on Johnny Carson
Jenny: Johnny Carson?
Dave: These are old. They’re reruns. Look up “trained cats” and “performing cats.”
Jenny: You know there are millions of cat videos. I love cat videos!
Dave (warming up): I do, too! There’s some very interesting animal videos.
Jenny: What are your favorites?
Dave: Wild animals and domestic animals that are friends. They’ve either been raised together or they have some kind of rapport. There will be a goat with a lion. It’s very interesting. A bluegrass group went to an enclosure that had wolves. An outdoor thing. Fenced. The wolves also didn’t hang around. The group started to play, and the wolves come to the fence and they lie down. When they were done the five musicians did a mock wolf howl. And the group answered! Then there was this donkey who was obviously depressed. This guy came with a trumpet and started to play, and the donkey perked up and started cavorting. After the gorilla getting shot last week, that really brought people out of the woodwork to respond. I don’t think they had a choice. People are blaming the parents. But stuff happens when you have a little kid.
My parents’ philosophy on child-rearing: “Stuff happens when you have a little kid.” Enjoy your 44th wedding anniversary, Mom and Dad! Don’t spend a minute thinking about me. I’m just 39, single, childless, and a nascent cat lady who, like her father, spends innumerable hours watching videos of wild animals and domestic animals that are friends. And cries. Look away. Look. A. Way.
This recent recipe from the New York Times uses dried chickpeas and plenty of tahini. You can’t go wrong for when you need to eat 3,000 calories at the same time as watching animals videos by yourself–except four cats–on a Sunday night.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- Juice of 1 1/2 large lemons, more to taste
- 2 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1 ¾ tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
- 1 cup sesame tahini
- ½ tsp. ground cumin, more to taste
You need to:
- Soak the chickpeas overnight with the baking soda.
- Boil/simmer the chickpeas until they fall apart, about 1 hr.
- Combine the lemon juice, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a blender.
- Add the tahini, the rest of the salt, and cumin.
- Add about 2/3 cup of cold water as the mixture is blending.
- Add the chickpeas. Blend until it looks like hummus.
- Serve with fresh parsley, Kalamata olives, and paprika.