Thursday, October 18, 2007

Forse Domani

It was close to lunch time when I got the Weebles home from the orthopedist. Usually I off load them and head home to do errands or to decompress before I go on the daily shuttle run to pick the Young One up from school. I was about to say, “Well, kids, it was fun, but I have to run…”

“You’re staying for lunch,” said Ma. It was a statement, not a question. “You can have your choice, tuna salad, crabmeat salad, or peppers and eggs.”

Mayonnaise was never a staple in our Italian household. In the old days, Ma bought tuna (tonno) imported from Italy and packed in olive oil. No need for mayo. If she had to use mayo, it was never real mayonnaise but that imitation whipped salad dressing. Lord knows how long the jar would be sitting in the fridge, so I opted for peppers and eggs. It seemed the harmless alternative.

The Weebles were happy I was staying for lunch. I was a welcome break from the tedium of SSDD. Same er…stuff, different day. Dad was bustling about the kitchen preparing lunch.
When I was a kid, The Brother and I used to beg Ma to cook for us if she had to go to a union meeting. (Ma was a seamstress and a card carrying member of ILGW. You remember their jingle? Look for the union label when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse. Remember somewhere our union's sewing, our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house. We work hard, but who's complaining? Thanks to the I.L.G. we're paying our way! So always look for the union label, it says we're able to make it in the U.S.A.! Sorry, got carried away. )

Anyway for a time Ma was the shop steward at her factory and she would have to go to meetings. We would be left in the care of Dad. Dad who was Patron. Head of the house. First born in his family and thus crown Prince. Growing up, his Ma did everything for him. Cooked, washed, cleaned and sewed. When he married Ma, she took over and did everything for him. He could not boil water without burning it.

“Would you like me to make the peppers and eggs?” I asked hopefully.

“No, I can handle it.”

Ma took my arm. “Can you put up the curtains for me in my bedroom?”

Twice a year as far back as I can remember, spring and fall, Ma thoroughly cleaned the house, washed windows, polished wood floors and changed curtains. She was still keeping up with the curtain tradition.

“HE was supposed to do it, but he never does anything!” The old song and soft shoe. She had two panels of dark purple sheers which she handed me. The rods were on her bed as if ready and waiting for me.

The windows are a corner arrangement in Ma’s bedroom, my old room. There’s a wooden valence with knick knacks to hide the rods. Ma’s desk is pushed into the corner under the windows. Not the easiest arrangement to hang curtains. The desk is piled and littered with papers, envelopes and all manner of junk mail, charity and sweepstake contests. $2 million coming this week! In order to get to the windows, I had to move the desk. No mean feat without causing a ticker tape parade. I got the step ladder from the hallway, threaded the panel on the rod, stood on the step ladder, ducked under the valence being careful not to bang my head and slipped the rod into the moorings. Pretty easy! Wonderbars.

Ma had the second panel ready and this one turned out to be a witchy kitty. In order to put this rod up, I had to stand on the sh…stuff on her desk. The rod kept slipping and wouldn’t go into the moorings. On the fifth try, after speaking in tongues, the rod held. I thought I was done when Ma brought out pinch pleated drapes.

“I’ll put the pins in and you can hang the panels.” She lifted the first panel and was puzzled. The second panel seemed to have disappeared. We looked in her room. I looked in the master bedroom. She held up the panel and I noticed a center seam.

“Ma, this looks like two panels have been sewn together?”

“Now who would have done that?”
“Duh, Ma! You’re the only one that knows how to use a sewing machine.”

She took the panel and ripped apart the seam. Broken wrist and all and no splint.
She began putting pins in one panel and I started on the other.

“Like this! Half way!”

“I’m doing it just like you. See?”

She watched and then her eyes grew big as saucers.


“You’re lefthanded!”

“I have been for 52 years. Where have you been?”

“Well, I knew you wrote lefthanded. I didn’t think you did anything else lefthanded.”

“God knows you and the nuns tried to break me of the habit, but you failed.”

The panels were a lot harder to put into the travois rod tabs. Even with my new glasses and my head under the valence I couldn’t see the little holes. I muttered more words in tongues and finally got the panels up. Ma was very happy.

“See? Ten minutes. That’s all it took” (More like a half an hour) “HE wouldn’t do it. Kept saying ‘tomorrow’, ‘tomorrow’, but tomorrow never comes.”

By now lunch was ready. Dad had set the table and the pan with the peppers and eggs took center stage on the table. They were swimming in oil. Dad had toasted bread. I took 2 slices and began making Ma a sandwich.

“I got the end piece!” She frowned.

I took the end slice which was on top and flipped it over. “There. Now you won’t know the difference.”

She looked at me and I laughed. “It’s what I used to do when the girls were little. No one wants to eat the heel of the bread, but if you flip it over, no one knows the difference.”

She laughed. We had a pleasant lunch and I complimented the chef even if the eggs were not as tight as I like them. He beamed.

Just as I was leaving Ma produced another set of drapes for the master bedroom.

“Do you want me to hang those up too?”

I could tell she wanted me to, but she frowned.

“No, they have to be pressed. Your father can hang them up for me.”

Forse domani. Maybe tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I always love your ordeals with the Weebles! Makes me glad that my sister had the job of hanging my mom's drapes this fall!


Erica Vetsch said...

Funny how tomorrow never comes when Dad promises to do something, but tomorrow is barrelling right down the slope at you when it's $2 million coming soon.

Loved the line about the ticker tape parade.

nutterone said...

A nice day... I bust out laughing at the left hand comment... As a fellow lefty, and the only in my family, the pre-weebles always noted it...