These mothers and their meals … .
They stop by a few times a month to feed us, to ensure that my son and I are alive. As I’ve noted recently, the house looks like a honky-tonk. I’m thinking of putting down AstroTurf in the living room just to give it some class.
This isn’t merely a home anymore; it’s a Hank Williams song. Last week, we started pinning dollar bills to the ceiling.
But back to mothers, who seem to be big news this week. The Chardonnay Moms in our town think that since we don’t have a mother in the house anymore that we are somehow doomed.
Fair enough. My cooking is spotty. I don’t quite know the names of ingredients.
Did you know there’s a type of wine called Marsala that you add to braised short ribs? I didn’t. I was just lucky to find the short ribs.
So the moms drop by to feed us, to check on us, to do the God’s work that comes so naturally.
You know, we live in a funny suburb. By funny, I mean strange. The moms are amazing, and so are many of the dads — just not in equal proportions.
The Chardonnay Moms run our suburb. They run the schools. City Hall. Churches. Gas stations. Especially the homes. They are highly educated, dynamic women with impressive cooking skills, many of them.
Others have no cooking skills at all. Yet, they have designer kitchens, which they use mostly to heat the expensive takeout food they rely on to survive.
Indeed, in our little town, takeout food is the dominant cuisine. So they come to us, these moms, with their egg rolls and their pupusas, their kebabs and their sticky rice.
Their names are Debbie. Debbie, Debbie and Debbie. For a period of time in the 1960s, all little girls in America were named Debbie.
As you know, moms have a million ways of saying “I love you.” Feeding you is one of them. Another is raking your hair with their fingers, like you’re still 10, which most men are.
Bottom line: Moms are the only thing robots can never replace.
We are orphans now. Both grandmas are gone, and now, for the first Mother’s Day in 36 years, my wife was gone too. My son and I are growing used to the lousy truth that Posh will never again pull in the driveway with 20 bags of groceries.
There is less now. The little guy and I buy one loaf of bread a week, one carton of milk, a couple of apples. It’s enough. Occasionally, we run out of the basics: Slim Jims and ice cream. We love a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, to celebrate we survived another one.
We sit on the couch, the two of us, and watch “Seinfeld” reruns, because if there’s ever a cure for the blues, it’s the way Kramer enters a room.
And each other, of course.
Oddly, I know some of the “Seinfeld” writers, so when the credits flash I’ll yell stuff like, “Mehlman, you maniac!!!” at the TV, as if summoning an old pal.
To me, you can weigh success by how many “Seinfeld” writers you’ve been lucky enough to lunch with.
Sitcom writers, by and large, feel like failures. But a legacy of laughter is a great gift. By tapping their own neuroses, writers give us these wonderful keepsakes. (Not the new shows — they’re worse than a fat-fingered dentist.)
But shows such as “Modern Family,” “Seinfeld” and “Friends” are now part of the great American songbook.
We’re kind of a sitcom now, me and the little guy, an odd couple sitting on the couch, laughing at “Seinfeld,” and a little smitten with Elaine, who reminds us of the amazing moms who drop off the food that sustains us, quick with their quips and toothy grins.
Laughter sustains us. Egg rolls sustain us, as well as our little shared routines.
We noticed the other day that when we scrape the last drops of ice cream from the bowl during “Seinfeld,” that the dogs know to come around.
Posh taught them that. The dogs learned that when she scraped her ice cream dish quickly with her spoon, it meant she was almost done, and that she was about to lean over to let them polish off the last few precious drops.
Now, we do that too. Scrape-scrape-scrape with the spoons: “Here, you idiot-beasts, have some ice cream. You earned it — not.”
Daily life requires a little ice cream. It demands a little laughter. It feeds on companionship and generous friends.
Like fingers through an orphan’s hair.