Family matriarchs provide some unusual insights
By Scott Derenger September 6, 2012 7:16PM
Scott Derenger, Common Sense columnist
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:15PM
So, last week I had lunch with my mother and her cousin, Mary Kaye. Where? At the new Smokey’s BBQ House on Jefferson Street in Joliet. Mom loves the new place and had been watching some barbecue shows on the Food Network. Plus, she wanted to get her fix of finger-lickin’ and napkin tuckin’ for the day.
Mary Kaye and I were more than happy to tag along, especially because mom trumpeted, “It’s my treat, so don’t even think about it.”
Of course I thought about it. I’m her oldest kid at 37, and I’ve provided her with nary a grandchild, nor even a wife to complain to about ... I don’t know, female stuff?
And just then, mom and her cousin began rubbing their chins, trying to one-up each other on a more embarrassing place to realize you have a throng of chin hairs: church or the golf course?
I figured the golf course, because at church there’s surely an older lady a few pews away with an impressive goatee she’s totally unaware of.
But even before the hygiene hilarity began, when we walked inside, mom waddled toward our table with a porky purpose.
“You know that crispy burnt piece they cut off the hunk of meat before they slice it,” mom said to anyone who resembled a Smoky’s employee. “I want it.”
And having also watched barbecue shows on TV, I knew exactly what she was talking about.
“Lemme see what I can do,” the waitress, the hostess, the dishwasher and the guy sitting at table 14 said. Mom likes the burnt pizza ends and crispy brisket scraps.
“Hell, if ya gotta pick ’em outta the trash, I don’t care.”
At least there’s no bother on my end with taking her somewhere fancy and expensive to dine. Mom’s beyond elated wherever there are makeshift bibs and wet naps.
After lunch we visited Yiayia and Aunt Mary at Sunny Hill Nursing Home. Mom and I looked for Yiayia in the lunchroom, but that’s no easy task. Nearly every resident fits the same description: in a wheelchair, with white hair and glasses.
Yiayia wasn’t in the lunchroom. She wasn’t in her room. And she wasn’t in the sun room or activity room.
“It’s Thursday,” Mom said, “she’s probably down getting her hair done.
And a few minutes later, we found Yiayia, fast asleep under a salon hair dryer. The scowl on her face resembled that of someone having a bad dream, or me after eating a stew of mushrooms, olives and brussels sprouts.
“This is probably bad for business,” I joked to stylists Mary Lou and her daughter Toni as I stood just outside the door. “A bald guy leaning on the wall and holding a sign that reads, ‘Beware! Look at what they have done to me!’”
Yiayia’s eyes were shut and her glasses were hooked to her shirt. On a table beside Yiayia sat the book, “Fifty Shades Darker,” the sequel to the New York Times best-seller, “Fifty Shades of Grey.” The titles alone lend themselves to books you’d possibly expect to find in a nursing home hair salon, right?
Um, not exactly.
I wanted to give my mother the book to thumb through, but she was too busy picking brisket outta her teeth. And rubbing her chin. At the least embarrassing place, I’d guess.
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