I JUST RECALLED A VERY EMOTIONAL MORNING from my early teenage years. I suspect that it had been hidden in my subconscious for all this time. It was an outburst involving my dad and second oldest brother, Dick.
Dad was usually a very patient man, but not this morning.
Dick was a sixteen-year-old, and he made a comment that got the ball rolling. Today, it makes me shudder to think about it. Stay with me, this takes some courage, much like talking with an irate spouse during marriage counseling.
Let me first disclose that my brother as a teenager was a bit prickly. As he matured, Dick picked up the ironic nametag “Sunshine,” from my parents. They employed this moniker only occasionally, but it was very fitting, especially if you’re into opposites.
As further background, earlier in his life Dick had his mouth washed out with soap at summer camp. He happened to call a camp counselor a “Bitch.” The counselor chose this approach as punishment for his unsavory remark. The action became problematic as Dick developed an allergic reaction to the soap and ended up in the hospital for a couple days. I’m assuming so he could once again breathe.
This characterized some of Dick’s background behaviors.
That fateful morning, I was just arriving home after completing my paper route and I came into the kitchen through the garage and heard my mother in her very pleasant voice say to Dick, “Honey, can I offer you a poached egg?” I heard Dick say, “You can shove your poached eggs up your wazoo.” I was trying to assess what in the hell happened that led to this response? It just flew out of his mouth. Minimally, it should have been a private thought. It was like a scene that Dick might have taken from The Catcher and the Rye with Holden Caulfield.
The morning was about to explode.
As I absorbed his comment, I stood in a frozen state, not sure what was next? The answer became crystal clear in just a few seconds. My mother was as quiet as a church mouse. As she held her slotted spoon in her hand, with steam rising from her poaching pan, I heard a noise that was unquestionably my father charging from the bedroom where he had been dressing for work. His momentum as he came through the hallway could have matched that of a Chicago freight train.
Dad arrived in the kitchen with but one goal in mind. I trust you have heard of the expression,“asses and elbows.” That is truly the best description of the scene that took place. The ladderback chairs began moving in various directions as if they were being featured in a 3-D movie and the juice glasses, which once held Kraft spreads, toppled over on the kitchen table.
“What did you say to your mother?” It echoed in the room. At this point it was no longer a simple question but a declaration of action.
I then watched my strapping father remove Dick from his chair and in one fell swoop take him from the kitchen, through the dining room, and at the base of the stairs toss him halfway up the steps on his way to his room. The extraction lasted all of three seconds. Somewhere in the tempest I heard my father announce that my brother was grounded and needed to get his act together.
To return order to the kitchen, Mom arranged the chairs and wiped up the orange juice. Without missing a beat, she turned to me and said, “Honey, can I fix you a poached egg? I grabbed the offer saying,“that sounds great, Mom.”
The storm had ended, as they all do.
Poached eggs were a staple at our house. Mom was not a fan of butter, or frying. I’m guessing Dick had trouble with her positive attitude while he was dealing with his teenage demons. I wonder if he likes poached eggs yet? I guess I will ask him. To this day, I still love poached eggs. I place a sprig of parsley on them as a tribute to my mom. It makes me smile.