Warning: This post is rated D, for Disgusting!
I have a complicated relationship with my mother.
This is a statement that I would expect a teenage girl to express in confidence to her high school BFF. I, however, am 55 years old. I suppose this means that I ought to do some hard time in psychotherapy. When I ring up the mother, however, I tend to feel more inclined to a cheaper and speedier solution, such as breaking the top off a bottle of whiskey with my teeth and flinging the cap across the room as a prelude to shoving the contents of the bottle down my gullet.
Lest you peg me for a hopeless exaggerator or prevaricator, allow me to present an illustrative example.
On the phone with the mother last week, I was treated to an expository essay on why, healthwise, the most dangerous time of life is within the two-hour window immediately following the consumption of a large and enjoyable meal.
Exhibit A, I discovered, is the mother’s late Uncle Aimel. Apparently, he was an insurance adjuster for Prudential until the fateful evening that he met his untimely demise at a company banquet. After eating, drinking and listening to umpteen speakers, the poor man stood up, stepped out into the corridor and promptly dropped dead.
Although the mother insists that the body is simply unable to process the large quantity of food in which a person might be expected to indulge at, say, Thanksgiving dinner or a well-catered shiva, I am of the opinion that Uncle Aimel died of boredom brought on by exposure to two hours of dull, droning rhetoric marked by weak attempts at misplaced wit. The only thing we know for sure is that if Uncle Aimel had begged off the festivities and instead made an early evening of it, he might well still be alive today.
As a glutton for punishment with an overactive sense of filial guilt, I again rang up the mother today. I swear to you, I will never learn. Apparently I am an incurable masochist who is unable to resist the opportunity to keep coming back for more punishment.
Today I had the distinct pleasure of being regaled with the story of the mother’s recent abortive fish dinner. As I understand it, she had purchased a package of flounder fillets at a well-known chain outfit and, back in her kitchen, began preparations for a fish fry. Upon removing the wrapper from the package, however, the mother could not help but notice the wafting of the distinct odor of — well, poop. This wasn’t a fishy odor, she clarified, but the pure essence of E. coli.
One might think that a reasonable course of action in such circumstance would be to rewrap the package and return it to the vendor from whence it came at the earliest possible opportunity. But, no, the mother doubted her initial impression and proceeded to wash the fillets under running water to see whether the vile odor would dissipate.
So the mother did the natural thing that anyone would do when finding one’s self in possession of a packet of fish fillets exuding the odor of feces.
She squeezed some lemon on it.
Alas, even the lovely odor of cut lemon did little to improve the essence of shit that continued to permeate the now thoroughly clean fillets. I don’t know about you, but I believe I’d be two miles down the road to the store bearing receipt in hand by this point. But then again, that’s just me.
So what did the mother do with her stinking fish fillets? She breaded and fried them.
Personally, I cannot imagine going through all that labor of beating the egg, preparing the bread crumbs (matzo meal, in this case), dredging the horrible-smelling fillets, heating up a pan coated with oil and then actually setting the bacteria-laden mess upon the stove and turning it at intervals so that it browns evenly on both sides.
When the fecal fish was done and piled high upon a platter, the mother continued to detect the distinct odor of putrefaction emanating therefrom. Fearing that actually eating it could potentially make her and the father ill (ya think?), the mother wasn’t yet ready to actually sit down and make a meal of the fried fish poop.
So she fed some of it to the cat.
Now, the mother has a lovely cat by the name of Taffy who is about sixteen or seventeen years old and has more sense than most people I know. Miss Taffy, who has never been known to turn down a choice bit of fish, took one sniff of the fecal dish and walked away in disgust. Even a cat knows that we do not eat anything that smells like the stuff that comes out of the body from beneath the tail. Okay, I know some dogs that are into eating poop. But a cat? Never.
Finally, the mother was convinced that this particular fish fry could only have the effect of sending her and the father to the hospital. So she threw the whole mess in the trash. (And the angels sang Hallelujah!)
I am told that the parents plan to return to the supermarket with receipt in their hands and a complaint on their lips. They won’t have the evidence with them, however. I am certain that it is currently rotting in the landfill (known to them as “the hole”) that they have created at the rear of their property as an alternative to paying a monthly trash removal bill.
I’d like to say that I was gobsmacked by this story, but really, it’s not atypical. Which is not to say that the mother is always wrong. Recently, for example, I was convinced that she was wrong in her assertion that we would qualify for Food Stamps even though we still own an old car and aren’t yet totally destitute. When we received our EBT card, I was forced to eat crow, a tough dish for a vegan to handle.
And then there is the matter of my upcoming job interview. I actually have several in the works, including a couple of truly long-distance ones for which the employers have kindly accommodated me by conducting the interview via telephone. I do have this one in-person interview on Thursday, however, and it is more than 800 miles away, at the northern edge of Washington State, close to the Canadian border.
I initially informed the mother that we are not going due to the expense of such a trip. This would be one job prospect that I would just have to turn away. The mother vehemently disagreed with our decision. “But what if this is the one?” she whined. Then she rang up my sister, who proceeded to rave and rant about how could we turn down the possibility of a job in as beautiful an area as the coastal Northwest.
After going over the issue with my wife about fourteen times over the last few days, we ultimately decided to bite the bullet and travel to the interview. After all, it’s nearly 110 degrees here and barely 70 degrees there. If nothing else, we will cool off, enjoy some lovely scenery and take a break from standing in food distribution lines.
So once again today, I found myself on the phone with the mother, tearing into my favorite meal of crow and humble pie. I’ll try not to indulge in too much of it, Mom, as I’d hate to fall over dead like Uncle Aimel. I mean, since I have an interview to prepare for and all.
As I said, I have a complicated relationship with my mother.