Imprint 2

After moving out of Mom’s house when I was fourteen and moving in with Dad, I missed my old home and Mom’s cooking.

Dad, a bachelor, was in the military. He’d just returned from an assignment in Germany. Besides his military day job, he had a second job running the small base’s all-ranks club, so I rarely saw him. That lasted three months. Then he retired and we moved to southern WV.

I’d mentioned missing Mom’s cooking to her on one of our phone conversations. Mom bought me Betty Crocker Cook Book as a present so I could make the stuff she had.

It was a humbling lesson. Mom usually used a recipe in her head. I had to plod their detailed instructions. Whereas her measuring skills were fast and effortlessly, I labored through cups, tsp, tbs, and their incremental differences.

But I weathered it, making myself stuffed green peppers, meat loaf, pot roast, spaghetti and meatballs, along with side dishes, and eventually baked cakes, cookies, pies, and other desserts. I never made fried chicken, odd in retrospect. I preferred roasting or grilling my chicken. In fact, my favorite meal became over-roasted thighs with buttered red potatoes and broccoli.

Don’t know why I never made the fried chicken. Maybe I was lazy, or maybe, subconsciously, I knew that some things couldn’t be duplicated.

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Imprinted

We heard a story…

Everyone had grown up and left the home, nurturing their lives, careers, and dreams. Somehow, though, they began having Sunday dinner together every week. Mom was so overjoyed that she made their favorite every week, which was southern fried chicken.

I immediately recalled watching Mom go through her fried-chicken process in our little ranch style home in the mid 1960s. Starting with a whole chicken, she would wash it and rub it down with cold water and then burn the remains of the feathers off over the gas burner. Truthfully, I never saw any feathers. I don’t know if Mom saw any, either, but this was her process.

Next, she washed the chicken again, and then dried it, and cut it into pieces. The pieces were dipped in egg, and then rolled in white flour with salt and pepper. She fried it in grease from her drippings collection in a big electric skillet. (Crisco later replaced the drippings.) The chicken was vigilantly watched and turned. When judged ready, they were removed and put on paper towels so excess grease could drip off.

I know her process well, and know how her fried chicken tasted as well. Nothing like grabbing a cold piece of fried chicken out of the refrigerator for a late-evening snack. Like many things she made for us to eat in those years, it ruined things for me later. I’ve always been looking for something that tastes as good as Mom’s. When you’ve had the best, it’s imprinted.

Friday’s Theme Music

Today’s song choice, “You Talk Too Much” by Joe Jones, was fluttering along my mindstream this morning when I awoke. It seems like I’ve known it my whole life. Small wonder there. Wikipedia states that it was released in 1960. I was four then, but Mom liked playing it and singing it. I remember her singing it to me whenever I was pestering her for something, apparently her counter-measure to my non-stop demand. It would infuriate me to the point of stamping my feet as I demanded that she stop singing.

That just made her smile as she continued singing.

The Superpower Dream

I recall three dreams from last night. 

The most memorable had me with superpowers. Yes, I became known as Time Man.

It started with a gorgeous day and a house being built. Standard construction techniques were being employed, and the footers, floors, and frame were all completed. Don’t know if I had a role in building it, but I remember looking at the house under construction, and walking around it in interest.

I then became aware that a large family were after me. From what I witnessed and overheard, they had superpowers and apparently had established a mission for themselves to corral and stop others with superpowers. Hence, they were after me.

At this point, I didn’t know that I had superpowers, and I don’t know how they discovered it. But now, suddenly being chased by this family of twenty donning costumes, I took off, time-jumping to safety. Why, how did I do that? I wondered after doing that. What exactly had I done?

I figured out that, while remaining on Earth and in the proper era, I’d both traveled in time to a few minutes into the future, and I’d also used PK to transport myself about a mile from where I was. Both of these impressed me.

Some of the superpower family (SPF, in shorthand) found me. I jumped again, going further in time and distance to buy some time (sorry). Exploring my abilities, I found that I had become aware of two arrows of time running in parallel, and that I was using both, but also using the time void between them. (I don’t know how the hell I figured all that out.)

Several SPF found me again. This time, I used my powers to freeze them in time, something that I’d learned that I could do. With them frozen in time, the SPF parents caught up with me. By now, confident in myself and what was going on, I confronted them and explained my powers, and told them that I didn’t plan to be evil, so they shouldn’t be afraid or try to stop me. A lengthy discussion about evil and intentions ensued. Essentially, they argued, how could they trust me, and I countered, then why shouldn’t I try to stop them? I could use their own argument about them. They said they had a history, and I replied, yes, but we’re talking about intentions, and subsequently, about unintended consequences.

About that time, the SPF members I’d time-froze (don’t know what else to call it without more thought) thawed and began moving, and other SPF folks began arriving. Mom and Dad stopped their children and began explaining that an agreement had been made for me to leave them alone and vice versa. Then I went off to play with time and explore my powers.

The dream ended, leaving me feeling, “Wow,” but also amused while wondering, “What the hell was that all about?”

One of the other dreams had to do with Mom and my family. I was having dinner with them. Dinner was being prepared, mostly by Mom and my sisters in the kitchen. The kitchen adjoined the dining and living room areas, creating one space. It wasn’t large, and circe 1960s furniture filled it. For example, the kitchen table and chairs had curved chrome legs. The table top was marbled gray Formica, and the seat cushions were bright red vinyl.

Now let’s get into the weird stuff. A man and his boys had a mirror setup, but there wasn’t any wall between us. We and they pretended to ignore one another while going through parallel activities of preparing our meal and sitting down to eat.

Mom and my sisters began talking, though, and left, surprising me. We hadn’t eaten, the food wasn’t prepared, and they’d left a mess in the kitchen. Vexed by this turn, I cleaned and organized, discovering chicken parts left in plastic bags in dish water in the sink. Mom briefly came by. I told her what I’d found and asked her what she was thinking, but she left without replying. Exasperated, I continued cleaning, and then prepared the meal. I waited for the others but when they didn’t show, I sat down to eat what I had.

I was sitting opposite the man and his son. They were white, both with dark hair. Taciturn and glum, the man appeared to be in his mid-forties. He was overweight and slovenly in appearance, with a flannel shirt over a white tee-shirt, and he hadn’t shaved. His son seemed to be about ten.

At this point, we were eating but not paying attention to each other, but I couldn’t help but surreptitiously note what was going on and observe. While doing that, I saw his son doing something, but I can’t recall what it was. However, I told the boy a better way to do it.

He and I looked at the father for a reaction. After a few minutes, while putting food on a plate, the man said without looking at the boy or me, “Listen to him, and do what he says. He knows what he’s doing.”

The dream ended.

Mom’s Dislikes

Since we’re coming up on Father’s Day, I’m thinking about the things that used to anger Mom that amuses me now. It’s a short list, but each of these earned a sharp word, snapped fingers, threats, or warnings, all delivered with “the evil eye.”

Mom’s threats were usually about giving us away, sending us to an orphanage, or putting her in the nut house. We weren’t a very P.C. household in the fifties and sixties.

Here’s the list:

  • Fighting, arguing, swearing and talking back. Her idea of talking back and our idea didn’t always align. We would protest, “What was I doing?” That is talking back. Don’t do it.
  • You’d better come when called…or else.
  • Cracking your gum, blowing bubbles with your gum, or clicking you spoon against your teeth.
  • No slurping! Do not slurp your soup or your cereal. Don’t you dare suck up the final fluids of a soda or milkshake through a straw, either.
  • Don’t sneeze too many times, definitely a peculiar irritation. You can see that Mom had a thing about noises. More than three sneezes would irritate her. Sneezing too loud would also annoy her. All that exasperated us. How are we supposed to control the number of times we sneeze, or how loudly?
  • Eat all your food. That was rarely a problem for me but one sister had issues. Food items couldn’t be touching one another. That just sickened her. But Mom would order her to eat her food; she would refuse, and would sit in the darkening room, refusing to eat, until Mom relented and took her plate away. That was a battle of wills.

A short list, and nothing too terrible. As children, we’d forget, and absently do these things until Mom voiced her irritation. As adults, we find it funny, and laugh about it. We’re also aware of these matters that irk Mom. If someone starts sneezing and goes more than three times — or loudly — in Mom’s presence, one of us is certain to say, “Here we go.”

What about you? Anything that your Mom did that amuses you in memory?

Friday the Thirteenth: The Sequel

You read it here first: it’s Friday the thirteenth.

There will be two this year, a trend that will continue until 2020.

You probably read it somewhere else first. It’s ‘always’ news.

I’m not superstitious. Friday the 13th doesn’t bother me. I believe a zillion people are affected to some degree. They were probably preparing to cope with the date. I only knew today was Friday the thirteenth because I read it somewhere.

I reacted when I read it. It’s Friday? Already? The thirteenth?  Is is still January and 2017? Man, this year is just flying past me.

I used to fly with some pilots who were terribly superstitious. Their nervousness over their superstitions shredded my patience. One of them always avoided flights on Friday the thirteenth if it could be done, and no joking about Friday the thirteenth or their superstitions could be tolerated. No, no, no, don’t joke about that. Then there was the order of processes for preparing for flight, lucky pens…maddening. None of it could be joked about, either.

Dealing with a nervous pilot isn’t fun.

You have some folks who are full-on, one hundred percent superstitious. I’m more like two percent. I have some idiosyncrasies, like not having my back to the door, but that came from the military drumming it into me through recurring anti-terrorism training.

“DON’T SIT WITH YOUR BACK TO THE DOOR. POSITION YOURSELF WHERE YOU CAN SEE ALL THE ROOM. ALWAYS SCAN YOUR ENVIRONMENT. AVOID SITTING IN CORNERS. ALWAYS KNOW THE LOCATIONS OF YOUR PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EXITS. TRY TO HAVE A THIRD ONE AVAILABLE. DO NOT FOLLOW PATTERNS. DON’T TAKE THE SAME ROUTE TO WORK. DO NOT FOLLOW A RECURRING, PREDICTABLE TIME-TABLE. ALWAYS EAT ALL OF YOUR VEGETABLES. BE SURE TO CLEAN YOUR PLATE. ALWAYS WEAR CLEAN UNDERWEAR. IS IT COLD OUT? MAYBE YOU SHOULD WEAR A JACKET.”

Sorry, I transitioned from hearing the military voice to hearing Mom’s voice. They often sound alike in tone and nature.

I wasn’t aware of how much I’d embraced the whole back to the door thing. It was my wife that noticed. She always acquiesced to my seating preference and I never gave it deliberate thought. Then, years after returning to America and leaving the military, we went to a restaurant. She casually mentioned, “I know you can’t see the door from there. I’ll watch it for you.”

I was affronted, indignant, outraged, I tell you. She laughed at my response. “You always have to see the door.”

“I do?”

I’ve been working on it since then. Here at the coffee shop, I make a huge effort to sit with my back to the door. Writing about it right now awakens my awareness. I feel extremely uncomfortable and a little vulnerable.

Fortunately, I can see the door reflected in my laptop’s screen.

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