While Mom was out for the evening, singing a gig at a retirement home in Northern Virginia, I came by the house to wash a bit of laundry and hang out with my Dad. Once dinner was eaten and my khaki sheets were dry, Dad offered me a slice of my mother's famous banana bread for dessert.
"Mmmm... maybe just a bite. Only the bottom." I love the moist, chewy layer where the cake sits on the plate collecting gooey sweetness. My family has learned to eat that part first, before I can swoop in and gobble my favorite puddingy morsels right off their plates.
Dad set to work slicing a sliver from the bundt, sawing gently back and forth with a serrated knife as is his Proven Method (patent pending). The man may be anal, but nobody cuts a cleaner slice of cake.
He tipped the piece over onto the plate and we both groaned with disappointment; no bottom layer -- it'd been cut away.
"It's your mother," he said. "Not so coordinated. She just grabs the knife and presses down. Totally smooshes the cake, no sawing motion at all. And she's in such a hurry she usually cuts it on an angle too; takes the bottom layer right off the next piece." He sighed and shook his head, a defeated teacher realizing at last that some pupils will never master some skills.
At mention of the word 'coordinated' my mind flashed back to the wedding we attended a couple weeks earlier in New York. I watched my parents enjoying the band: My father boogied to the beat; my mother... well, she looked lovely in her pink gown.
"Not coordinated is right," I said to Dad. "That scene on the dance floor last weekend... oy vey."
"Yeah, did you see what happened when I tried to lead her? Disaster."
"Fortunately I inherited your sense of rhythm," I said. I was speaking of my own proclivity for shaking my groove thing, but Dad must've thought I meant my piano training.
"I suppose I would have done pretty well with a musical instrument," he said, nodding thoughtfully. He watched his kids grow up with music, always wondering what it would have been like to learn.
"Well, instead you married one!" I said brightly.
And then my father smiled in that wistful way he does when he thinks fondly of my Mom, which is often, and he murmured, "Yes, I certainly did..."
...only she plays me."