Recommended wine for today’s entry: Fathers do more than support and raise their two-legged children. My husband, for example, shares the responsibility of our two dogs and six cats. So when I found this really cute blog (,http://theradioblog.marthastewart.com/2011/06/world-wine-guys-choose-wines-for-fathers-day-gift-giving.html), I decided to get my spouse the wine recommended “For the Dog Lover: Mulderbosch Faithful Hound 2007: This South African Bordeaux-style blend is named for a pooch who loyally kept watch over the vineyards for many years. He’s right there on the label.($20)”
In honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d relate the story of the first time I brought home a college boyfriend (now my husband) to meet my parents.
It was just like a scene out of Father Knows Best.
As instructed, I let my mother know when we left Nashville, headed due North on I-65. They could expect to see us in 2 1/2-3 hours. Remember, this was in the late 1970s; there were no cell phones.
With a loud Yabba Dabba Dooooo, we were on the road. Straight shot. Traffic was light — we would surely make our 7 p.m. ETA.
Except when I calculated travel time, I forgot to allow for my calorie refill. There I was, solidly in the middle of packing on my Freshman 10, and driving burns calories. And I was driving fast, so I was probably burning DOUBLE the calories. I needed to stop for a Coke. And some French fries to balance the sweetness of the Coke.
Also, I’m lying because it was really the Freshman 20 and I was, by that time, far past the middle of the endeavor.
Anyway, the reason I bring up the Drive-Thru experience is because somehow, while driving the straight shot between Nashville and Louisville that I’d driven at least 20 times previously, I failed to get back onto I-65 North. Not only that, but it wasn’t until we found ourselves approaching a toll booth that we even knew we were lost. By then we had been catapulting due East on the Cumberland Parkway for about 40 minutes.
If you’re a math major, you now know that we are going to be at least 80 minutes late.
So when we finally reached my parents’ house, we were more than an hour and a half late (don’t forget the slow down while I searched for the perfect fast-food joint). Luckily, my mother hadn’t planned dinner for the second we walked in the door. So it was just about ready. Mom greeted us and I made the proper introductions. Then the Springer Spaniel stuck his nose firmly in Jeff’s crotch and the neurotic Lhasa Apso brought special items from the bathroom trash as a little welcome present. He’s a lucky man.
Then I inquired about my father’s whereabouts.
“Well, he was so excited for y’all to get here that he made a bourbon and water. After that, he was getting nervous because you were late and he made another bourbon and water and went downstairs to shoot some Japs.”
Perhaps I should point out that: 1) My dad grew up in the era of WWII; 2) He didn’t mean his statement to be prejudicial; and 3) What he was actually doing was playing an old arcade-version of Asteroids, shooting alien spaceships or something and actually, he generally wasn’t shooting very much of anything, gauging by the way he cussed and beat on the machine.
Anyway, Jeff and I grabbed a beer and headed down to the basement. I had spent much of the drive preparing him for my father. I don’t remember exactly what I told him, but the gist was that dad was a big man, he said exactly what he thought, the lawyer in him made him tend to argue things that he didn’t really give a damn about either way, and he enjoyed scaring my boyfriends.
So I’m sure Jeff was drinking his beer faster than I was.
When we got to the basement, the Asteroids machine was blinking at us from the corner, whistling its crash-and-burn noises. But my dad was nowhere to be seen. An empty bourbon glass sat on the table by the game. We walked over that way.
Just as we passed the pool table, a hand — a GIANT hand — flew out from beneath it and grabbed Jeff by the ankle.
Nothing I had told him had warned him of that particular possibility and we both jumped. Well, I jumped. Jeff was shackled to the burnt orange shag carpeting by way of a really hairy hand.
Then my dad, laughing, somehow extracted his 6-foot-5, 250-pound body from its hiding place. He shook Jeff’s hand and quizzed him on our reasons for being late (because in his eyes it HAD to be the fault of the lust-filled, 19-year-old NORTHERNER and certainly not the fault of his rapidly-expanding, beer-swigging, class-skipping, directionally-challenged, perfect little girl).
I was mortified. But Jeff was patient and handled the unusual situation with aplomb.
As we made our way upstairs, Jeff leading the way, my dad looks at me and bellows in his booming voice, “SO WHERE THE HELL DID YOU GET THE BOOBS?”
Oh. My. God.
Then we sat down in the giant dining room that looked like 60 feet long thanks to the smoky mirrors lining one wall. Remember, this was the late ’70s. The room was pitch black except for the flickering light of a candleabra. Mom sat and one end of the loooong rectangular table; dad sat at the other end; Jeff and I sat along one side.
Dad held out the platter of meat. “Take whichever piece you want, Jefferson. (That’s not his name, mind you.) Go ahead. You’re the guest. Take whichever piece of meat you’d like.”
So Jeff did. But dad still held the plate in the air, right in front of Jeff’s face.
“I guess you know you just took the best piece, Jefferson. That’s the tenderloin. The best piece of the whole damn thing. The one you took.”
So far things were going swimmingly.
After answering about a thousand questions, I saw Jeff peering through the darkness to my dad. The candlelight was reflecting off his bald head. Then he glanced down at my mother, who, with her very dark coloring, was difficult to discern in the low light. Finally he leaned over to me and whispered …
…This is like dining with Uncle Fester and Morticia.
In retrospect, I’m not sure he was just talking about the physical similarities.