Monday, June 16, 2003
Father's Day

I keep starting long and involved entries and losing steam halfway through... such is my usual writing mode. So this one should be more of a quickie.

Yesterday was, as some of you may have heard, Father's Day. This was interesting for my family because my dad recently had major-ish surgery on his neck. By recently I mean the preceding Wednesday. In fact, due to an unexpected pinched nerve keeping him in the hospital longer than expected, he had just gotten home. My sister's take on my dad on valium was that he reminded her of the Ozzy Osbourne footage from that MTV show-- all shuffling and mumbly.

My sister has been working in a hospital and mentioned that most people feel much better after showering and changing into some of their own clothes. So when I arrived at my parents place, my first opportunity to see my dad was when I was called upstairs to help wash his hair.

He hasn't had much appetite since the surgery, so he's lost a bit of weight. My first sight of him he was thin, wide-eyed, dazed from the valium and naked but for a neck brace, with my sister soaping his arm trying to remove the remaining adhesive from the hospital electrodes. His voice was deeper and throatier than usual and a bit slurred. It was something of a Don Barthelme moment for me. We helped him wash his hair, him leaning stiffly to get under the shower's stream. Then mom dried him off and blew his hair dry, Dorothy changed his bandages and put his neck brace back on, and I stood around trying to be helpful, mainly just handing people things.

Usually on Father's Day we'll have my dad's favorite food, that being leg of lamb. Since he wasn't up for that, we asked him what he'd like instead. After some thought, he decided that he probably needed some protein and requested a cheese omelette. We decided that worked for all of us, so mom and Dorothy got some eggs at the store and we set off cooking.

Making a cheese omelette for my dad for some reason made me self conscious, and I finally realized that I hardly ever make them for anybody but myself. Unlike most things I cook, I don't have any outside validation of whether or not I do it well. In fact, I've only ever shared an omelette once with an ex-girlfriend. This realization reminded me of the rule that I had made for myself that I couldn't make an omelette for anybody who wasn't sleeping with me... I don't even remember how I came up with that one: something about the intimacy of eggs, butter and body language; the way you can't learn it any way but experience, by trial and error; the way that everybody has developed their own idiosyncratic techniques. They're not like scrambled eggs, which you can throw together for any old pals who come over. They are displays of prowess! Add to that as well the fecund symbolism of the eggs and you just gotta admit it-- omelettes are kinda sexy!

(Even a short entry finds time for a tangent)

But I decided that such intimacy could be extended to include familial love, especially on a special occasion. I made a 3-egg omelette with monterey jack for dad and a 4-egger with mushrooms, onions and cheese to split with mom. This was my first time breaking the 3-egg barrier, as every cookbook I've read suggests you're better off making two double-eggers. I can now understand why-- the top wouldn't set quite right, though it still turned out well. Almost as if to reinforce my theory of omelette intimacy (though undermining my egg limit) my brother-in-law Justin then took over the range to make a full 5-egger for himself and Dorothy.

Mom also steamed some asparagus and we poured some champagne. After dinner, dad announced that he was starting to fade and was heading upstairs to turn in. But he was very grateful to us all, and said that we'd made him feel much better just by showing up (though the shower helped a lot too). He gets a month or so to recover, then his prostate surgery will be in mid-July.
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