Friday, August 3, 2007

Dead Weight

From a week ago.

Of course I should have given this more thought, or any thought, come to think of it, but everything was such a rush. The body count grows but I have other more pressing concerns just presently.

My son lies underneath the table chanting a new mantra, “I live to eat, not live to drink! I live to eat, not live to drink! I live to eat, not live to drink!” which is not bad for someone with a speech delay. Fortunately, there are also two wailing babies in the restaurant. [translation = competition to the sound barrier which helps us blend in]

Because we are in an American restaurant, everyone’s meal arrives at a different time. [translation = in Europe everyone’s meal, each course I might add, arrives simultaneously, which is no mean feat for the catering staff] Hence, junior is under the table, as his glass of water is insufficient to sustain life. Nonna, the birthday girl, is already half way through her lunch. [translation = and at 80 plus, she is a slow eater]

“Why don’t you ask him if he wants some more bread?” asks Spouse. I wonder why everyone is asking me questions, or rather, asking me to ask questions that they’re all perfectly capable of asking for themselves? How come I am everyone’s translator today, but I have other things to worry about?

Whilst I have eaten a little solid food since the removal of the braces, it has been the odd snack here and there, rather than a whole meal. [translation = testing the stomach tolerance and the teeth strength simultaneously] A gurgle percolates up from my stomach in protest. [translation = fortunately this just blends in with the ambient noise level] I find it hard to concentrate with the foyer music blaring and the air conditioning unit, positioned on the ceiling just above us. The constant barrage of questions from all quarters doesn’t help much either. [translation = sensory overload] I take another forkful from my plate, as my mind’s eye conjures up pictures of cheese soufflĂ©, apple whip and syllabub, light, airy and delicate.

A liquid diet for 7 months has left me ill equipped to deal with real food. In my glee to be free of liquidized, pureed and mashed food, I may have taken on more than I can chew. I can almost hear the forkful of food land in the pit of my stomach with a thump, a dollop of solid, heavy mistake. What was I thinking? My mind’s eye makes a suggestion, a zip from crotch to tummy button, a emergency release mechanism for the truly desperate. A small explosion erupts from my tummy, a cross between a foetal kick and a balloon bursting. [translation = at least it didn’t materialize as a burp, or worse!]

“Mom, can’t you get him out from under the table, he’s bothering me!” she protests. I want to tell her that ‘under the table’ is the opposite of bothersome. “Why don’t you ask him yourself dear?” She pouts in response and giggles ice-cubes until they tinkle. I push another prawn shell to the edge of my plate. I may have only eaten half a dozen but suddenly each one seems like the size of a whale.

“Why are they eating that?” asks Nonna, perplexed. I need to translate this carefully. [translation = explain an oddity of American life to someone who is hard of hearing, whilst we are in an American restaurant, surrounded by Americans without a tone of disparagement] I think.
“Well, it’s applesauce,” I yell.
“I can see that! I am deaf not blind!”
“Did they forget to bring the pork?” [translation = in Europe, applesauce is an accompaniment to roast pork, a condiment. You would only ever have a teaspoonful of it, and never without the pork]
“Just think of it as stewed apple.” [translation = a legitimate dessert for the ailing] She pulls a face in confusion and disbelief at my inadequate answer.
“WHY?” she yells back, as you might do to a truly stupid person, due to your own frustration.
“Well, Americans eat applesauce ……..especially children…….instead of a salad.” Why did I say that out loud? It’s not really true either. I dig myself deeper and deeper into the mire.
“I don’t understand?” she wails. I want to say ‘neither do I really’ but I need to come up with an explanation.
“It might help if you think of it as pureed apple rather than applesauce. I think the problem lies in calling it applesauce.”
“But why apple puree? Are they all ill?” [translation = apple puree is associated with the diet of babies, invalids and those who are otherwise close to death]
“No of course not!” Why is this so difficult? “Um, just think ‘bland, innocuous children’s food,’ that might help.”
“Alright…..but why do they eat it before their main course, why don’t they eat it as a dessert?” I look fertively around the room. [translation = deportation would be inconvenient at the moment]
“You know………I really have no idea. That’s not something I can help you with,”
I sigh with defeat. The mountain of prawns before me overwhelms me. [translation = easily digestible shrimp]

I have been here, in the States, for 12 years and there are still so many mysteries.

I sit up straight and let my head swivel, owl like, hoping that some handy American will but in and help out, or ‘Appleman’ will dive out the shadows and come to our rescue. [translation = translate for us]
“Are you alright Maddy?” he asks with what appears to be genuine concern, “you look a bit green about the gills.”

Green is not a good colour to mention at this particular juncture, for any number of different reasons, not the least of which, is that it kick starts my other son into the vortex of the colour wheel.

“What! Green? She is green!” he looks at me, with head on one size, which does nothing for my own tender equilibrium. “I fink she is maybe a little Chartreuse, or maybe Lime.” I swallow hard. I ban green thoughts, as I would prefer not to vomit on the table, not because I have any qualms about shocking, more that my teeth might shoot out with the force, or maybe my jaw will drop off into my lap. I ban all thoughts of lap sitting my own jaw, as it is not conducive to Nonna’s birthday celebration.

Why did I think that I could go from pure liquids to solids in one fell swoop?

Spouse, Nonna and my own daughter, each plague me with questions. The questions are directed at me, but should be directed at the boys. I have turned into a conduit, but not by choice. For some reason I am an intermediary, however inadequate. I am not enamoured with my new position of translator. I determine upon a career change.

That’s it! I resign.

Eventually we leave the restaurant, a mottley collection of odd foreigners. I bring up the rear in my role of chief herder, as I stagger, John Wayne style, with a stomach like a medicine ball. [translation = at least the second trimester]

Moral – an apple a day, may keep the doctor away, but applesauce might be a better choice.

But that's the joy of the "simple life."


Awesome Mom said...

I never was a big fan of apple sauce either and have no idea why Americans eat it the way we do.

Linda said...

Not a big applesauce myself either but one of the guys I work with always mixes it in with his pasta. Apparently Mom used to do this when he was a kid and now that's how he always has pasta whether it be canned or homemade. Blech!!

I have trouble with my stomach on a constantly recurring basis and have often thought that if I had the discipline for it, a liquid diet would be the way to go to keep it from occasionally going into a gastric turmoil. I can only imagine how much your system is suffering from shock at this point!

You have my utmost condolences!

Hammer said...

Pork chops and applesauce..most people like it.

I've used ti for baking but since my son is allergic it's a no go.

Josie Two Shoes said...

What a totally delightful read - yes, yet another from you! I can almost picture myself there at the table with everything going askew, and everyone channeling their questions thru you. I hope next time out goes a little more smoothly, never a dull day in your house I can see! Poor Nona, how to explain the profundities of life?!

OneFullHouse said...

All these food pics are making me hungry...

Come to think of it, it's been a while since I've eaten applesauce.

Jocelyn said...

I'm so caught up in the elegant structure of your posts that I almost forget to comment on how funny they are.

There's an impossible sub-world of applesauces (strawberry/apple versus cinnamon versus homemade, etc.) that bogs down all of my discussions with my kids. We mostly avoid the stuff.

Anonymous said...

At home as a lad, we never had Pork chops without applesauce. Enjoyed the post.

Mommy Brain said...

I just choked on my Shiraz...what a great post! I wish I could have been the American to come rescue you. Personally hate applesauce and have banned it from my dinner table...the children won't eat anything else if it's there. Love your post = can't wait to read the next story.

Carol said...

Mommy Brain told me that I needed to read this post! How great!
I LOVE applesauce! We have it out at every dinner. We use it as a "dessert" I guess. It's that little bit of sweet on the pallet after a good meal. I don't ever make dessert unless we have guests for dinner, so applesauce or peaches is our thing. I think it goes back to my childhood -- our family made applesauce every fall. We had an uncle that owned an apple orchard. So I guess for us, it's a family tradition! Would you like to come for dinner?