“Me too, Noah.”
“Thank you, Coca-Cola.”
I look at him with a question mark tattooed between my eyes.
“Yeah, this second glass of Coke is like a gift. Aaaaaaahhh….”
He places both hands on the glass and raises it like a sacred goblet while intoning a celestial hymn. Proof of how rarely he has soft drinks. Proof that rarity breeds value that has nothing to do with intrinsic quality.
“Oh my sweet Lord, I really want to see you, my sweet Lord…”
Nina Simone is on my sound system, crying out for divine solace.
Noah had two heaping platefuls of pasta with marinara sauce and freshly grated Parmesan, a salad with olive oil/balsamic vinegar vinaigrette, fresh raspberries with whipped cream. And the Coke is the miracle. Go figure.
He eructates a deep resounding gas ball.
“Aaaaahhh….. I really love Coke.”
“Hallelujah….I really want to see you, but it takes so long, Oh my Lord, I really want to feel yah…I’ve been waiting all my life…”.
Nina is really amping it up. She really needs to see her Lord.
Noah seems to have found his. He licks a wayward drop of drink before it falls on the table.
Earlier today, at the grocery store, he was his usual recalcitrant self. Moving slowly for no other reason than asserting his individuality. I was impatient to get in and out, quickly.
Sometimes shopping for food can be a delight… a special meal, a special harvest, special friends coming for supper. That kind of thing.
Today, it was for a carton of milk, a loaf of bread, a block of butter….boring, necessary, like so much of life.
Noah was slow, I was impatient.
I turned the corner of an aisle without corralling him as I usually do. Picked up several cans on tuna. They were on special, 2 for 1.
By the time I turned another corner, Noah was nowhere to be seen. The hell with him, I thought. My mind filled my skull with ranting: “wasting my life waiting, can’t anybody just listen to me, what a %&?#@ life”… that kind of thing.
At the end of the dairy products aisle, Noah bumps into me.
He’s totally distraught.
“Dad, dad, where were you?”
“Right here, picking up what we need,”
He’s really upset, on the verge of tears.
“I was really scared.”
I crouch down to be at his eye level.
“I like thought you left me. I thought you were gone.”
“Noah, I would never leave you alone, not even as a joke.”
“You’re not sure?”
He shrugs his shoulders. His big brown eyes just drown me in sudden overwhelming sorrow. I hug him, hard. As much for me as for him.
I sometimes forget the tragedies he’s been through. His mother is gone. He loved her. Still does. She’s out there in the world, living her life without him.
And I’m as good a parent as I can be. But I have issues…anger, sadness, despair leavened by joy, laughter, enchantment. Hardly reassuring.
Noah pushes me away. He looks around, suddenly self-conscious.
He’s a boy, after all.
I stand, put an arm around his shoulder. It’s always a little awkward since he’s still only four feet tall.
“Come on, I’m almost done.”
“Dad, could we buy some Coke?”
We’re in the fat section…chips, dips and soft drinks. We almost never buy that shit.
I smile at Noah. Of course, he’s pushing the envelope, sensing my vulnerability, Of course, if I was a really good parent I would say NO.
His beautiful brown eyes take on that sparkle his Mother had before she was robbed by her insanity.
“Sure, I like a good fat burp now and then.”
He chuckles. And hops to the shelf to pull down a two-liter Coke bomb.
Hours later, we’re snuggled up on the couch in the living room, listening to Nina Simone and burping rhythmically.
“My sweet Lord, nobody taught me patience, my sweet Lord, I really want to see yah…”.
“Did you have a good day, dad?”
“A great day.”
“Me, too, dad.”