Monday, November 5, 2018

Shrimp For Dinner

as featured in Desert Exposure Magazine
"Dad, I'm cooking shrimp for dinner," my wife says. "Would you like regular or coconut?"
     Meanwhile, the guy who's actually helping make dinner--namely me--his opinion goes unrequested.
     I really can't get upset. My wife's just trying to make my father feel at home. It wasn't that long ago my beloved mother passed away. After a brief time of him living on his own, we decided to ask him to move in with us. It's not a decision I regret. Given the opportunity, I would do it all over again, but it's been tough. You can't have two alpha males in the same wolf pack without one wolf becoming incredibly annoyed at the other.
     "What?" my father says.
     "I'm cooking shrimp for dinner."
     "You're cooking dinner?"
     "What are you cooking?"
     "Yes, shrimp. Would you like regular or coconut?"
     I turn my head so my wife can't see me laughing. That's what she gets for not asking me how I would like the shrimp prepared. I can feel her eyes boring into the back of my head like angry twin lasers. She knows I'm finding amusement at her expense.
     "Shrimp..." my father continues, "...shrimp.... Yeah, that sounds good."
     "Would you like regular or coconut?"
     "What are you yelling at me for?" my father yells back. "I can hear."
     It's true, my father can hear. Unfortunately, he only seems to hear the things he not supposed to hear.
     "Pop!" I could yell. "There's a fire! Grab your mutt and get out!"
     "What?" my father would say, not moving his eyes off the TV.
     "A FIRE! GET OUT!"
     "What are you yelling at me for? I can hear!" he'd yell back. And then, "Are you grilling chicken? Save me a leg."
     On the other hand, my father could be sitting down in his Tommy Johns, watching his two favorite baseball teams playing each other on TV, and I could be in the next room with my wife. If I leaned over and whispered in her ear, "Let's go upstairs," my father would shout to us, "If you're going upstairs, bring me back that blanket I like."
     Meanwhile, my wife apologizes for yelling, and my father says, "What kind of shrimp did you say?"
     Regular or coconut."
     "Hmm... regular. What's the other kind?"
     "Coconut? Yeah... I like coconut."
     "So you want coconut, then?"
     "What's the other kind?"
     My wife is getting flustered now.
     I'm still chuckling under my breath.
     Personally, I prefer coconut, but no one's asking my opinion. I don't know why she's giving him a choice. He'll eat anything that even resembles food. If my wife feels like eating regular shrimp, she should make regular shrimp. If she feels like eating coconut shrimp, she should make coconut shrimp. It's that simple. You see, my  wife has the good fortune of being married to someone who appreciates whatever she cooks.
     "Regular," my wife says.
     "What's regular?" my father wants to know.
     My wife sighs, and then explains how she prepares regular shrimp. I don't think my father understands a word of it. Heck, even my  eyes start to glaze over.
     "I like coconut," my father says, probably afraid she'll go over her explanation again, so coconut shrimp it is. I win, without even having to play the game. And I got a good chuckle out of it as well.
     I remember when I was a kid, my mother never cooked shrimp, those little cockroaches of the sea. The closest thing my mother ever cooked was liver, and that's not close at all. To eat that liver, I added a lot of ketchup to get it down. A LOT of ketchup. In those days, what you were served is what you ate. If you chose not to eat, you went hungry. The way it should be. Go to any country where people are starving. You don't have picky eaters. You don't have eating disorders. You don't have morbid obesity. What you have is a country of people who would be grateful for some mudwater and a chickpea.
     So, even though I might have preferred a hamburger, I ate pretty much whatever was place in front of me, adding ketchup to whatever I didn't like.
     Heck, I even added ketchup to scrambled eggs, and I like scrambled eggs.
     Why am I telling you all this? Because my wife takes her time when she cooks, and makes everything from scratch. She cooks with love, and, as that great philosopher Diana Ross sang, "You can't hurry love."
     Finally, my wife serves all of us a delicious plate of coconut shrimp on a bed of tropical rice. I take a quick inventory. Hmm... my father's got seven. I've only got six. Not that I'm keeping score or anything.
     As my father stares at his plate, my wife serves herself and joins us. My father continues studying his plate.
     Who knows?
     I get started on mine.
     I don't believe in having a staring contest with my food.
     "Do you have any ketchup?" my father finally asks.
     "It's coconut shrimp, dad," my wife says softly.
     "It's coconut shrimp."
     "I know what it is," my father says. "Do you have any ketchup?"
     I step in.
     "Pop, it's coconut shrimp. You don't put ketchup on coconut shrimp."
     "Sure you do," he says.
     My wife doesn't argue. She doesn't say a word. She just gets up, brings back a bottle of ketchup, and hands it to my father, who drowns his shrimp with it, much like I used to do to the liver my mother would also cook with love. I find myself wishing I could tell her, "I'm sorry."
     My father spears a soggy shrimp with his fork.
     "Oh, yeah," he says between chomps, "this shrimp is good."
     He turns to me.
     "Your wife is a good cook," he says.
You can't hurry love, but you CAN hurry to,, or to @JimDuchene and read more of my nonsense.

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