I arrive at O’Hare late Wednesday night after 10 hours of travel from San Francisco. Dad picks me up at baggage claim. His first topic of conversation, after greeting me, is everything he’s posted recently on Facebook.
Dave: I sent SJ (SJ is my provider of intercourse for, lo, these past eight months) a message.
(What Dad means is he left a comment on SJ’s wall. I know this because I saw it, as I’ve seen every “message” Dad “sends” to my friends on FB. I say nothing, so he recounts the message word for word and then chuckles in a self-satisfied way.)
Ten minutes later, speeding through poorly lit suburbs with shockingly few streetlights, Dad decides now is the moment to tell me his glaucoma is getting worse.
Dave: It’s a cloud. It’s a cloud. It’s pressure on the optic nerve. It gets worse a little every year. I don’t know whether it will completely cloud over like macular degeneration. But I have binocular vision. My night vision is really good. When I had shingles it happened that it was on the eye with the glaucoma.
Jenny (staring through the windshield in terror): So what does it look like right now?
Dave: If I close my eye there’s a cloud, so I don’t have quite the acuity.
Jenny: Maybe you could not close your eye.
Dave: Most of my reading I do online because I can adjust the print size.
Jenny: But you’re OK to drive?
Dave: (Absently) Oh, yeah.
I start typing on my phone, and as I look down, I feel the car swerve. I look up. We seem to still be on the road. Dad buzzes his window down, then up. I look over.
Jenny: Did you fart?
Dave: No. Was I supposed to?
Jenny: Why did you roll your window down?
Dave: Oh. I pressed the button wrong.
Jenny: (Continues in terror to Evanston)
Mom meets us at the back door in her pajamas, and within five minutes she’s heated up a plate of linguine with eggplant and garlic and a side of zucchini and poured me a glass of wine. She sits next to me at the dinner table, blinking sleepily and telling me what a terrible baby I was.
Mom: I hope you don’t have a you.
Jenny: Thanks a lot!
Mom: You were so cute. But you woke up frequently. Frequently.
Jenny: Isn’t that what babies do?
Mom: Jesse didn’t. (Jesse is my younger brother.)
Mom: You weren’t a terrible baby. You just kept me up a lot.
We talk about my fervent desire to have a home birth and all the research I’ve been doing lately.
Mom: I told somebody my daughter’s trying to make it (the birth) the best experience possible. She just laughed.
Then my mom laughs so hard she has to wipe her eyes.
We finally go to bed. In the morning Mom and I meet again in the kitchen. She’s still sleepy, and although I’m jet-lagged, I can’t stop talking, as is my lifelong habit. I go on and on. It has confounded many boyfriends. I am on first thing in the morning and have been since I was a baby.
Jenny: My uterus is the size of a grapefruit. The baby is the size of a peach.
Rose: (No response as she waits for the kettle to boil)
Jenny: Mom doesn’t care.
Rose: What do I have to do to show I care?
Rose: I smiled. That’s all I can do in the morning. You’re lucky I’m talking to you.
Jenny: What time do you usually walk in the morning?
Rose: I don’t usually talk. You can join me in the front room, but you can’t talk.
After breakfast, during which I talk nonstop, Mom and I go for a walk to the lake.
Rose: The other day your dad was putting together the cabinet (an IKEA cabinet they bought for the TV). It was taking forever so I thought, we’ll just order a pizza for dinner. The menu said ingredients were just a dollar more, so I called up and ordered cheese and then the ingredients. So it came and I’m eating it, and there’s no sauce! No sauce! I was thinking, is there a province in Italy that doesn’t use sauce? So I called and the guy said, oh, the waitress said you ordered it without sauce because you said cheese. Who orders a pizza without sauce? He said, do you want another pizza? I said, yes! So I had to go back to the restaurant. He didn’t ask me to sit down. Didn’t offer me a free Coke. And I had to pay for the second pizza! Jenny, I wanted to tell you something but I didn’t want to gross you out. And you can’t write about it.
Jenny: OK, I won’t write about it.
Rose: I was reading your blog. You think pregnancy sex is amazing? Talk about sex in your seventies! It’s amazing!
Jenny: How long has this been happening?
Rose: I don’t know. The last four or five years.
Jenny: I’ve been thinking about asking you about sex but I didn’t know how to bring it up. Have you read about it? What’s the deal?
Rose: All I’ve read is that the clitoris is thinner. So there’s more sensation. And because our anatomies (hers and my dad’s) have changed, I get more time. (Giggles.)
Jenny: Have you talked to anyone about it? Your doctor?
Rose: Why would I talk to my doctor about it? What is there to talk about?
Jenny: Do you talk to your sister about it?
Rose: No. We have anatomy discussions, but that’s about it.
Jenny: Are you sure I can’t write about this? This is gold.
Rose: OK. OK. You can write about it.
Jenny: Can I ask you a question?
Jenny: What did you do with the first pizza?
Rose: I threw it away. No, I kept it for the next day thinking maybe it would be good as an hors d’oeuvre. But it wasn’t even good for that. It was like cardboard with cheese on it.
Back at their apartment, we stand in a row in their tiny kitchen, Mom eating from a small dish of almonds in her socks and Dad next to her at the stove making us an omelet.
Dad (scooping sun-dried tomatoes into the pan): Now, I also have some cheese. We can put some feta cheese in here.
Jenny: That sounds great.
Suddenly Mom yells out, “Hello?” and runs out of the kitchen and out the back door in her socks.
Jenny: Where did she just run off to?
Jenny: Where did she go?
Dave: I’m sorry, who?
Dave: Oh. I don’t know.
Jenny: (Stares at the back door, which is hanging open. Then hugs Dad as he chops parsley.)
Dave: Do you know how happy I am for you? (About me being pregnant.)
Jenny: Thank you so much, Dad.
Dave: I haven’t cried yet. But I will.
Later, Dad and I go to the Evanston Public Library to see Dad’s photo exhibit on the second floor. On the way home, we stop at CVS to buy magazines — today Mom and her friend and I leave for Ohio and then continue on an overnight bus to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March (!!!). These are the magazines I picked out:
And this is the magazine my mother, the 74-year-old sex fiend, insisted I pick up for her:
Rose: Jesse and Agua (my brother and sister-in-law) say I’m funny in print. You know, I never thought of myself as funny.
Jenny: Well. Maybe you don’t mean to be.
Rose: Oh! (Bursts out laughing.) Fuck you!
Dave: (Opens the door to his office) Rose, did you call me?
For this never-fail plate of deliciousness in the middle of the night, you need:
- 1/2 lb. linguine
- Eggplant (3 Japanese or 1 Italian), sliced and tossed in olive oil
- 4 huge cloves garlic, chopped large
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Huge handful sliced basil
You need to:
- Make pasta (if you don’t know how to cook pasta, this is not the blog for you!).
- Bake the eggplant at 400 degrees for 1/2 hour.
- In separate pan, sauté garlic in olive oil until slightly browned.
- Combine all ingredients and add the basil.
For the zucchini, you need:
- 2 medium zucchini
- 2 TB olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
You need to:
- Thinly slice the zucchini.
- Heat up a pan very hot.
- Put in just enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Add garlic, brown slightly, then add zucchini. Once both soften and take on color, you’re done.