If you don’t have an opinionated father, don’t bother reading this post…it will probably bore you. Me, I was raised to know that as long as dad was roaring, he was OK…and when I stumbled upon this essay by Bruce Cameron I had to read it twice…the first time to myself, giggling…the second time to Steven out loud…when I read it to him, I was laughing so hard I couldn’t see the words through the tears half the time.
I hope that Bruce doesn’t mind this mildly modified re-post. We’re getting close to the holidays and it’s good to remember those we love…
Shopping with My Mom by Bruce Cameron,tweaked only slightly by Astrig
When people ask me if my parents are still mentally all together, I explain that they retired 17 years ago to the coast of Maine “for the weather,” so they were never mentally all together.
During a recent summer week: Temperatures have ranged from the low 40s to the high 80s, and we’ve had hail, rain, tornadoes, power outages and pirate attacks. My mom, Rosalie, was making her grocery list and asked Steven, “What are some of your favorite things to eat?”
“I like broccoli,” he says.
“Broccoli!” she exclaims, as if he had just asked her to bring home a live black bear.
“I don’t like broccoli,” my father says over his newspaper.
“Zaven doesn’t like broccoli,” my mother interprets for Steven.
“OK,” Steve says reasonably. “What does he like?”
“I want to get what you like,” my mother says. “What do you like?”
“Not broccoli,” my father warns.
“He can have broccoli if he wants,” my mother snaps at him.
“What are we going to do with a bunch of broccoli? I don’t like broccoli,” Dad complains.
“Zaven doesn’t really care all that much for broccoli,” Rosalie says, whispering so my father won’t hear this slander.
“”What does he like?” Steven whispers back.
“What are you two whispering about? I said I don’t like broccoli!” my father bellows.
“His hearing is getting really bad,” my mother informs Steve. “We’re not getting broccoli, for heaven’s sake!” my mother says loudly. She looks at Steve. “What do you like to eat?”
Her smile is open and innocent, as if this is the first time she’s raised the subject. I know Steve’s tempted to say “Broccoli” again just to see if they’ll have the exact same conversation, but he’s already learned that they probably will.
“Doughnuts,” my father announces. “Get doughnuts.”
“Doughnuts?” Rosalie asks Steve, the way people will look at a dog and say, “Car ride?”
“I don’t really eat doughnuts.”
“What kind of man doesn’t eat doughnuts?” Zaven demands, outraged.
“You always loved doughnuts in the past,” my mother informs him, looking hurt.
“I know, but I don’t eat them now.” He pats his stomach.
“All right, I won’t get doughnuts” she says sadly.
“What?” my father says, rattling his paper.
“Steven doesn’t like doughnuts,” my mother says.
“What does that have to do with anything?” my father wants to know.
She gives Steve a “what are you going to do” shrug. “Would it be OK with you if we got doughnuts?”
“Well of course. I just don’t want to eat any.”
“But I want to get food you like. What do you like?”
“Do you mean to tell me,” Zaven interrupts, setting his paper down, “that you don’t like doughnuts?”
“I like them, Zaven. I just don’t want to eat them.”
“If he doesn’t like them he shouldn’t have to eat them,” Rosalie tells him.
“I do like them, though,” he protests.
“You do? What kind would you like me to get for you?” she asks him.
He can’t see any way out of this. “I don’t know. The maple kind I guess.”
Zaven makes a face. “Maple?”
“Your father-in-law doesn’t like maple doughnuts,” my mother informs him, a bit unnecessarily.
“Those aren’t even real doughnuts,” he says. “Maple.”
When I was a little girl, we called them fried woodsman cakes,” my mother affirms.
“No, we didn’t,” my father objects.
“We didn’t? What did we call them?”
My dad shakes his head, “I don’t know I never liked them.”
“But Steven wants fried woodsman cakes,” mom responds.
“Actually I don’t.”
“That’s not what they’re called!” my father yells.
“Zaven would rather we not get any,” my mother apologizes. Then she leans forward, a conspiratorial look on her face. “I’ll buy some and we’ll eat them at the beach,” she whispers.
“I heard that!” my father tells her.
She shakes her head at Steve. “No, he didn’t,” she whispers.
“There’s glazed. There’s jelly. There’s chocolate,” my father says, listing all the reasons no one should want maple doughnuts.
“Would you like any of those?” my mother asks innocently. He waits for it, and she says it.
“I want to get what you like.”
Love ya dad 😉