Saturday, June 03, 2006

like a fiddle

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."


Big Sis said...

Ah yes, but is he not a Stradivarius?

always write said...

Most assuredly -- just look at their creative product(s). Rather brilliant, if you ask me!

Cancer Sucks! said...

And thou shalt in thy daughter see,
This picture, once, resembled thee.
- Ambrose Philips (1675–1749), British poet

I-66 said...

...did you save me a piece of cake? I could really go for summa that.

East-West Girl said...

Brilliant! Haha. I heartily admire the delicately crafted ways in which you gingerly tread family discussions.
Bravo, madam.

And I always thought it was you taking the tops and bottoms of cakes and muffins from the office kitchen. But don't worry, I won't tell. ;) Then again, it's not like I have anyone to tell anymore...!

Dad said...

35 years of playing; music that's o so sweet! (Top banana bread, too.)

Barbara said...

Sounds like your dad views you as an adult -- something I'm trying to work on with my 25-year-old son. This makes me wonder just what my children would have to say about me. Your parents seem to complement and have a healthy respect for each other. And the banana bread sounds like it is worth coming home for.

Anonymous said...

My dad, arch Catholic, is fond of saying that he strictly followed the Church's rhythm method. And ended up with three boys in the marching band.

Thank you. I'm here 'til Thursday. Try the veal.