Sunday, March 25, 2007
Conversations with Dad 3: Death and Dining in New Jersey
We begin in a diner off the New Jersey Turnpike, during a visit with Grandma.
Grandma: Do you ever tell your friends what a beautiful and intelligent Grandma you have, Ces?
Dad: Just tell her yes, Ces.
Ces: I...uh, I try to work it into conversation as much as possible, Grandma.
Dad: Don't be a wiseass.
Grandma: I'll be back. Have to go to the bathroom.
Grandma leaves table.
Dad: Hey, Ces, does Grandma look out of it to you?
Ces: Kinda, I guess. But she's not bad for 90.
Dad: What do you mean?
Ces: Well, she is getting old.
Dad: So? Marciulianos live much longer than average folks! Look at your Grandpa! He would still be alive today if he hadn't died in that hospital.
Dad: Y'know, from that spill he took...when he had to go to the hospital. I bet if he didn't fall he would still be around today.
Ces: At age 102?
Dad: See? That's what I'm talking about. Marciulianos live a long time. That's another thing you got from my side of the family. Age. Smarts. Looks. The only thing you got from your mother's side was height.
Ces: Nice to throw her a bone, Dad.
Dad: They grow like weeds on that side. Way too gangly.
Ces: Wait, how old was Grandma's dad when he died?
Ces: Oh...but he did have cancer...
Dad: Christ, that's just four years older than me.
Dad: I thought I had another forty years. Christ, I hate being middle-aged.
Ces: Okay. That's it. New subject. It was really nice of you to take Grandma out to eat, Dad.
Dad: Hey, I'm a nice guy. By the way, do you have money to pay the bill? All I brought was my Sunoco card.
Ces: You didn't bring any money at all? How were you expecting to pay for the toll on the New Jersey Turnpike?
Dad: That reminds me--I need some money for that, too.
Ces: Wha..what if I didn't have enough cash on me, Dad?
Dad: Why? Because you keep wasting it all?
Grandma returns from the bathroom.
Grandma: I got toilet paper!
Ces: Oh, shit.
Dad: What the hell are you doing, Ma?!
Ces: You stole toilet paper, Grandma?
Dad: Can I have a roll?
Grandma: Sure. I think there's one or two rolls left in the men's room.
Ces: You stole toilet paper from both restrooms?!
Dad: Are you nuts, Ma?
Ces: Please ask her to return them, Dad.
Dad: Well, that'll actually only draw more attention. Besides, I could use a roll for sneezing in the car.
Grandma: You can take one from the men's room. I think there's one or two left.
Dad: I can't have one fucking toilet paper roll?!
Ces: Dad, will you lower your voice?
Dad: Who the fuck is listening?!
Waitress: Is everything okay?
Grandma: My soda's too warm.
Dad: That's because you ordered it without ice, Ma.
Ces: Maybe we should get her some ice.
Dad: She doesn't like ice. It makes her teeth hurt.
Grandma: I don't like my soda warm, either.
Dad (To Waitress): I'm sorry, Miss. Maybe she got confused when ordering. English isn't her first language. She's originally from Italy.
Waitress: That's okay. I have one just like her at home. I'll get her another glass of soda and make sure it's cold.
Waitress walks away with soda.
Dad: What the hell did she mean she has "one just like her at home"? Is she trying to be insulting?
Ces: I think she meant she has a mother born in another country.
Dad: No, she was making a wiseass remark. Screw her, I'm not leaving a tip.
Ces: You weren't going to leave her anything! You don't have any money, remember?
Grandma: I'm sorry Janice couldn't come.
Ces: Hmm? Oh, well, Dad and Aunt Janice are having some sort of argument, I guess.
Dad: I'm not arguing. Janice is arguing. I'm just not listening.
Grandma: At least you could visit, Ces.
Ces: No problem.
Dad: Of course he could. Ces is a really sweet kid. He'd do anything for anybody.
Ces: Uh...gee, thanks, Dad. Really.
Grandma: I just don't know why Frank and Janice have to fight. Siblings never fight.
Ces: That's not true, Grandma. Marcello and I used to fight all the time.
Dad: That's because you and Cello are two miserable little fucks who couldn't give a shit about anyone.
Ces: Wait, what the fuck just happened here?
Dad: Don't curse in front of your grandmother.
Ces: I'm...I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Grandma. But what the hell just happened?
Ces: "When?" Two minutes ago you were nominating me for Son of the Century. Now you're acting like I should get the chair.
Dad: What, you and Cello never fought?
Ces: Of course we fought! But that doesn't have anything to do with it!
Dad: Sure it did! You think I liked dealing with that? None of the other parents' kids fought!
Ces: Of course they did!
Dad: Well I didn't have to deal with them.
Waitress returns with new glass of soda and a plate of bruschetta for Grandma.
Grandma: I didn't order this.
Waitress: The chef heard you were from Italy so he made you a plate on the house.
Grandma: I'm not paying for this.
Ces: Funny, neither is Dad.
Dad: Ma, they're giving it to you for free.
Grandma: Did you order this?
Dad: For free, Ma! They made it for you for free!
Grandma: But I didn't order this.
Dad: It's free! Free! They're being nice! Eat it! (To waitress) Thank you very much. That was very thoughtful of you.
Waitress: You're welcome.
Waitress walks away.
Ces: Now can I leave her a tip, Dad?
Dad: Ma, can I have one of those?
Grandma: They made them for me.
Dad: But you didn't even want them.
Ces: We should probably get going soon.
Dad: Just a bite. One lousy bite!
Grandma: There's only three.
Dad: Why can't I have one fucking piece of bruschetta?!
Ces: How does a 40% tip sound?
Dad: Wha...why are you wrapping the other two up?
Grandma: I'm not hungry anymore. I'll eat them later.
Ces: Where did you park the car, Dad? I think I'll wait in there.
Dad: If you're not hungry now why can't I have one?!
Grandma: And what am I supposed to eat for later?
Dad: THE OTHER ONE!
Ces: I'm leaving.
Three get up from table and start to head out. Ces turns to get his umbrella only to see Grandma taking tip from table.
Ces: Wha...what are you doing, Grandma?
Grandma: You accidentally left some money on the table.
Ces: It's the tip, Grandma.
Grandma: Someone could have taken it.
Ces: Yes, Grandma. The waitress.
Grandma: But you already gave her the money for the bill.
Ces: And that was the money for her.
Grandma: What is she going to do with all that money? I didn't want you to lose any more.
Ces: Then why were you putting my money in your purse?
Grandma: Would you like a bruschetta, Ces?
Grandma: I've got two left and I can't eat that many.
Ces: I just want to leave a tip!
Dad (Whispering): Don't worry, Ces. I'll get the money out of her purse when she's not looking.
Ces: Um...uh...thanks, Dad.
Dad: That way we can pay the tolls...and I can have some bruschetta.