Bad Date Story, Courtesy of My Mother
Dear mom, Thanks for sharing.
ps: I'm sorry if this wasn't what you intended when you told me to pursue my writing career.
When it comes to genetics, in many ways, Ashkanezi Jews have the shit end of the stick (pun intended). In addition to predispositions for Alzheimer's, Tay Sachs, and Cystic Fibrosis, Ashkanezi Jews fall victim to the sensitive stomach. My mother and I are no exception.
I can count--on more than one hand, I'm afraid to say--the number of times I've had a boyfriend drive on the shoulder of the road while stuck in traffic to find the nearest exit, so I can escape into a Dunkin Donuts bathroom with a People Magazine and an immodium (side note: in a case study of McDonald's versus Wendy's versus D&D, the donut champion is always preferable). And that's from someone who has only been seriously dating for a decade.
My parents have been married for 42 years, and my mother has been plagued by a sensitive stomach for all of them. To provide you with some context, this is the type of person whose idea of a bedtime story was telling me about the time she got off the subway in the South Bronx to run to her mother's house, because she knew she couldn't make it home to Queens without pooping her pants. And then she pooped them anyway. (Sidenote: This story did totally make me feel better after I threw up all over Raymond McNeal in the third grade. Raymond, I'm sorry about that.) So my father should know,when a trip is only supposed to take six hours, he probably should count on seven.
After my parents celebrated four decades together, they built a small cabin up in a tiny town in Maine. Surprisingly, though the town is approximately 1/1000000 the size of New York City, my parents are much more social there, and frequent a local restaurant for live music on Thursdays.
One Thursday, my parents sat down at their usual table--far from the stage, for the sake of my father's sensitive ears--and ordered dinner. My mother got a glass of wine and, at my suggestion, the lobster pie (as only the best kind of Jews, we like our shellfish coated in cream). Two sips and three bites in she felt it, the slight rumbling in the base of her bowels.
"I don't feel well," she whispered to my father.
"Do you want to leave?" he asked. The music hadn't even started yet, he reminded her. And this was probably a false alarm.
The music started. My mother loved the lobster pie, as I told her she would. She kept eating. Her stomach felt better, and then it didn't. She started to sweat. She turned white.
"Are you alright?" the waitress asked.
"Do you have a dessert menu?" my father responded.
"I think we're ok," my mother said.
"What about that cookie sundae--" my father began. This was their signature dessert, and took 15 minutes to prepare.
"I think we're fine," my mother jumped in. Her face got even whiter.
"How about pie?"
My mother kicked him.
"A slice of rhubarb--to go," he said.
"What's wrong?" he turned to my mother.
"I'll meet you by the car," she said.
The drive home took 20 minutes. It occurred in silence. My mother stared out the window looking for a Starbucks (wishful thinking, for there wasn't a coffee shop for 50 miles; in NYC she and I both knew the location of every Starbucks bathroom from Union Square to St. John the Divine).
"I just made it," she told me later, because our last name might as well be TMI.
"And your father," she added. "I just couldn't believe him. Even the waitress was looking at him like he was crazy. It was like, in 43 years, he had never been on a date with me."
I love my parents. My mother, for ending this conversation with "now add THAT to your bad date great story web site!" My father, for putting up with our stomaches for so many years. The man means well. He just really wanted that pie.
Yes, that photo is of a mini Lysol spray, especially useful for the date turned sleepover. Tuck it into a pocket in your pajamas, or just place it in your cosmetic bag. Yes, you can thank me later.