I’ve talked before about how we all fall back into our childhood roles when we visit family, and this Christmas was no exception for me.
As usual, Dave and I were lucky enough to be able to travel to Florida to see my parents.
Florida . . . the sun, the beach, the 70-degree days, and . . . my father, the one person who is single-handedly able to erase all the progress I’ve made with my self-esteem.
Truth be told, Dad was mostly on his best behavior this year. I think he’s starting to worry about getting old, so he’s being nicer to everyone. After all, they don’t let grouchy people into heaven.
And I did my best to stay out of his judgmental eye—not letting him see me at my early morning pajama-clad worst if I could avoid it. (Yes, I know it’s sad that I dress for my father, but we’re all messed up, right? My messed-up-ness stems from Daddy issues, and, come on, whose doesn’t?)
I even went so far as to make sure I ate most of my meals when he wasn’t looking because I know that his favorite thing to do is to commentate other people’s food choices. . .
“Is that raw?” (This comment is usually said with a shudder.)
“I don’t like to eat at that place. They give you way too much food.” (Translation: I don’t eat as much as you do.)
“I like a dry tuna.” (Meaning, “I’m too good for mayonnaise.”)
“Geez, that’s a whale of a burrito!” (No explanation necessary.)
“I don’t eat much red meat myself. You almost have to force me to eat red meat.” (This from the man who had steak and hamburger last night for dinner.)
“Are you really going to eat that?” (Gee, thanks Dad.)
These comments are the reason why I decided to fill my plate before my parents came over for dinner one night last week. We had bought roast beef and ham for a friend’s visit, but so much of it had gone uneaten that we’d invited my parents over for dinner the same night to help us finish it.
But as I was putting out a buffet of pasta salad, deli meat, lettuce, tomato, and mayo, it occurred to me that if my dad had the chance, he’d make a comment about every single morsel I put on my plate. So I decided to be pro-active and put my meal together before he arrived.
Unfortunately, Dad showed up just as I put two slices of bread on my plate.
Unlike a normal person, Dad did not pick up his own plate and start selecting the items for his own dinner. No, that would be too obvious. Instead, he followed me through the buffet, making a comment about each of my selections. It was when I was at the end of the line, spreading the tiniest layer of mayo on my sandwich—I knew he was watching—that he went in for the kill.
“That sure is a lot of mayonnaise,” he said with a small chuckle.
I honestly couldn’t believe it. I had purposefully used the smallest amount possible, but from his point of view, it was still too much.
“Well, you know me,” I said. “I love me some hip-widening fat-filled mayonnaise. Always have, always will. Want some?” I added, holding the greasy knife up to his throat like a weapon.
Okay, so this was not actually my response, but I can dream, can’t I?