Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I'm not a fan of leftovers. I used to be alright with them, but a strange life event changed my mind, and fast.
Only a year after Mom died, my Dad remarried the woman he was married to before my Mom was on the scene. This is the woman who we heard horror stories about all of our life, and now, we were expected to accept her. Why? Time mellows the soul, or so I hear. I believe that, to some extent. In this case, I had no real personal reference point to really know if that was true with her or not, so I tried to just go with the flow. It sucked.
I am a fan of frugal spending. I think it's the Scot in the bloodline. I am a bigger fan of nutrition. Not just food, real fuel. My favorite vegetable is green beans. Fresh, steamed or flash fried green beans. There were many a day in the summertimes of my life where I spent it alongside my Mother as we snapped and de-strung bushels upon bushels of fresh green beans from the garden. My fingers were always sore for days after a snapping session like that. The best part was the rinsing and steaming within an hour of the pull and enjoying the fresh bounty of the harvest.
That was "before", and the "after" was an awkward adjustment for a 16 year old to make.
Every new "step-mother" does the suck-up thing to the kids to try to win their favor. You know it's true. So green beans was the thing "she" decided to leap into to gain my favor in a small, seemingly thoughtful way. She was the worse cook I'd ever come to know, even to this day. She tried though, I'll give'r that.
"She" was nicknamed "Bat-Woman" by my Brother and me. Or should that be me and my brother? Whatever. She would always keep the curtains drawn and keep it dark inside of the house that before her arrival, beamed sunshine to every corner and crevice. The only thing missing was her vertical reversal into sleep mode to complete the cave-like atmosphere.
I was a free spirit at 16. Great friends, Navy ROTC and the beach, made up the daily route. Being at the house was what I avoided most, for reasons obvious to those who would know how it feels to see your Mother's pseudo replacement fail miserably in the comparison department. Bat-woman wasn't trying to replace Mom. I know that. But damn, my Mother was beautiful and she looked like a prune. Seriously, a prune.
Her big effort of attempting to win me over with green beans, consisted of starting dinner at 9am and having it simmer on the stove all fucking day long. By the time Dad would get home (I tried to coordinate arrivals so he would be there when I got there too), the green beans were so shriveled and blackened from the burned, buttery simmer-fest, that they were unrecognizable. I wasn't going anywhere near that shit. Ick.
So with me not feasting on her failed effort for approval, she would whip out the Tupperware and reheat the same shit the next day for another eight hour simmer. She really thought we'd eat it eventually. I'm never that hungry.
After the simmer-fest day after day, I just learned to eat before I got home. There were a few occasions over the year and half before I went into the Coast Guard, where I would call Dad at the office and he and I would go somewhere to eat before it was time to make the afternoon appearance, just to avoid the food. Dad would call her to say he had a dinner appointment with a business friend "to close a deal", and would be home about an hour behind the normal schedule. No worries tough, the same shit that had simmered all day would be served again the next night.
Mrs. Hammond, who is the mother of my best friend back in the day, is also Charlie Daniels Aunt Geraldine. She always had an extra place at the table and understood my dilemma with the love and compassion that mirrored my Mother's love. I still call Mrs. Hammond every week to check in and see how her and Mr. Hammond are doing. They have a fairly big family. All of the major occasions of the year are always a gathering of my old pals at the Hammond's house, so that is when I especially make the call. I like checking in with everyone at the same time and laugh with my friends once again. It's food for the soul. If it wasn't for Mrs. Hammond and Mrs. Stinson, Jamie's Mom, I would have starved. The Stinson's (Savage surnamed family, remarried) and the Hammonds were my respite and soft place to fall whenever I felt like a 16 year old does when you are still enough to let the grief seep back in. I love those two families. Every single one of them. Charlie, he's just a regular guy. He may be a big deal to some, but he's just Charlie to me. I was invited to LaRue's (Charlie's late Mom) for Thanksgiving dinner in Leland, several times when Charlie was home, and it was always a great family experience. From Charlie's viewpoint, I was just another brat friend of Loretta's to him.
To this day, I am funny about leftovers; not in a humorous way, in a freaky kind of way. Some paranoia of bacterial ick keeps me from wanting to eat things once cooked, handled, then recooked or warmed up. It doesn't matter if I was the handler or not, I don't do leftovers. Bat-Woman tainted me for life. Ha! I said taint.
I'm sure at one time or another, I will scribe more about Bat-Woman, just for therapeutic purposes. Fanny's Crack is full of untold stories. Some funny, others tragically accurate.
I still enjoy green beans. I cook them correctly to preserve the nutrients. I like them crunchy with a touch of cherry tomatoes, fresh rosemary and thyme.
I can't believe I just blogged about Bat-Woman's fucking green beans. Take that, oh twist of fate! The rest of the Bat-Woman story is still in my head. It was never in my heart.
She died 6 years after my Dad by suicide.
The churches I attended, which were numerous over the years and of different denominations, teach that those who take their own life, rob themselves from eternal grace. I find some solace in that, actually. My Mom and Dad are reunited without interference from a cave dweller.
...or that is how I choose to feel it in order to cope.
In hindsight, Bat-woman herself was a reheated, shriveled up leftover. I think that's what initially stained my senses to the food variety of the same type.
I still have trouble reconciling my Dad's choice for companionship in his latter years. Just before he died, he was making arrangements to move in with myself and my son in Charleston. I think he knew something was up and he wasn't long for this world, and wanted to go out happy by choosing a sublime exit.
Sublime - [French sublimer, from Latin sublimare] a (1): to elevate or exalt especially in dignity or honor
He succeeded, and with dignity.
Now I'm a leftover. Cyclic shit just blows my mind.