I’ve held a certain idyllic image of Father’s Day in my scrambled brain for many years. As the holiday approaches each year, visions of grilled bratwurst and sitting around in a lawn chair dance through my head. I am a simple man and for the most part the perfect holiday involves not so much as…anything. A chair, some charcoal poisoned meat and the quiet of a mind on holiday. Is this typical, or some general behavior of all man-kind? I may have to wonder forever.
This morning, I was dumped from the lawn chair and bundled into the family car for our celebration of Father’s Day. It seems that in our society, when a man has proven himself to be an adequate parent and patient provider, he’s feted with a trip to an exotic restaurant and a greeting card featuring bratwurst. Our food foray was to a Pan-Asian buffet eatery located in a converted roller rink. Pan-Asian is a way of getting round saying that many of the food offering are exquisitely prepared dishes featuring legs and heads sticking out of them. I’ve worked in the food industry long enough to approximate most of the items, but am still surprised and mystified by the way the big buffets produce them. Steam pans of corn starch thickened gooeyness. I, however, as previously noted, am a simple guy. The sauce covered squid and tempura battered nuggets of fish/foul are of less interest to me than the faux Chinese takes on American classics like fried chicken, or macaroni and cheese. If I’m to be dumped from my yard throne, give me phony home cooking, at least.
I shambled through the forty acre buffet in search of macaroni and cheese. The type Mom used to make, or at least mom’s friends at the Stouffer company. Finally, I came across a bright, yellow, steaming pan of congealed goop with caramelized cheese crusting its outer edges. The greasy, laminated placard on the sneeze guard read:
macaroni w. cheese
Macaroni w. cheese? Was this the President’s idiot brother or my sought after casserole? My joy was beyond words. While there was to be no lawn chair nap, at least I’d get to enjoy some good ‘ol Pan-Asian mac & cheese. First, though, I’d have to get the plate safely back to my table and not get tripped up by angry, desperate and lovelorn rural dwellers. Several busses had arrived ferrying a social outing of Farmers Only dating club member and their goats, squirrels and cousins. I should have stayed at home and enjoyed a metal chair in the yard. These boys meant business and they could eat. What could I do, but save a little macaroni and cheese in my wife’s purse and get the heck out of the buffet? Not that I was afraid. No, merely seeking a quiet place to have my dinner. A bunch of old men looking for love in the wrong places and fulfilling their deepest needs with Cantonese Tuna Helper was too far beyond my ideal Father’s Day.
Eventually I shuffled back to the car and was whisked homeward. Dreaming, all the while of burnt sausages and macaroni w. cheese. Maybe, just possibly, I really was a good dad this year. Later, I’ll fish dinner from the bottom of Mrs. Thompson’s purse and smile at a year well lived.