“I didn’t think of getting anything, but there are cherries, clementines…”
He scrunches his nose.
“The cherries are really dark and sweet. Try them.”
He shakes his head and his raised hand in a double “it’s okay, I’ll survive” gesture.
Ah! I’m such a pushover! Now I feel guilty, unreasonably. Somehow I should have baked a cake, whipped some cream. Focus Father! Maybe, I could go to the corner store and pick up a couple of sundaes…2 times $2.50…expensive but it’ll be the price of my guilt.
“Actually dad, I’m still hungry.”
“No, for supper.”
“But you just finished supper a half-hour ago, and you left half of your dish.”
“Yeah, it’s because my belly was full then, but now I’m hungry.”
“Noah, you’ve been doing this pretty often lately. I don’t run an all day buffet. We eat at supper time and then at most there’s a glass of milk before bed, but that’s it.”
“You don’t even like milk.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“You said “We”….”.
This would be a perfectly appropriate moment to scream until my lung pops an aneurysm, jump off my third floor balcony and go running, stumbling down the street in a desperate prison break.
“Noah, it’s because WE eat supper together…”.
He interrupts. I hate it when he interrupts.
“…yeah, but dad, sometimes like after I go to bed you like eat what you like. Yeah, I know because in the morning, there’s like bread crumbs everywhere on the futon. And it’s gross, because I lie in it.”
Yes, daddy gets the midnight munchies, thanks to the self-medication of that late night joint that takes the edge off of having to make 1095 meals for you, complete with dessert.
“I’ll warm up your leftover pasta.”
The hand shakes again and the nose scrunches, again.
“No, it’s okay.”
“I thought you were hungry.”
Ah! Bad dad, bad dad bad dad bad dad.
I grunt a non-response.
“We like bought salami yesterday, right?”
“Could I like have a salami sandwich? And like, juice?”
“Noah, everyday you complain that you’re forced to eat sandwiches for lunch. And now you leave half of your hot pasta meal to ask for a sandwich?”
The hand comes back up.
“It’s okay, forget it.”
Shoot me! Draw and quarter me! Eviscerate, explode, devastate my body!
“But you’re hungry?”
“Noah, there’s still two hours to bedtime. If you’re hungry now, imagine in a few hours. You’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache. If you’re hungry, you have to eat. Preferably at supper.”
I get up, propelled by irritation. As I go by him I could just bitch slap him over and over. Instead I head for the kitchen. I prepare a dish. Baby carrots, a couple of slices of salami, bread, roasted almonds, a piece of cheese, and a bowl of cherries. I pour a glass of juice. I set it all out in front of him.
“The cherries are dessert, so….”. I shut my mouth before what I really feel like saying spills out. I leave the room to make sure.
I stay one room away. Avoidance is the best chance we both have for survival.
“These cherries are sooooo good. They’re really dark and sweet.”
“You really should come and try one, dad.”
He’s extending the cherry blossom of peace. I breathe deeply. I love cherries. My father grew up in Northern Italy, where he would climb into the cherry trees and eat the sun warmed fruit right off the branches, until pink foam oozed from his lips.
Life is a bowl of cherries.