Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 30

#30 – "Always eat the parsley they put your plate at a restaurant, it is packed with vitamins, and freshens your breath."

This one of one hundred things my mother taught me a million times reminded me that I never saw my mother take a vitamin. Of course this was a woman that would only take one-half of an aspirin if she had 105-degree fever. I recall her giving me one baby aspirin when I was in high school. Seriously! 

She wasn’t the stereotypical naturalist though, she just believed in doing things, as she put it, “the natural way," such as eating parsley instead of taking vitamins.

I remember as a kid feeling very special and somehow superior when, on those very rare occasions that we went out to eat in San Angelo or Odessa, and my plate arrived with a “sprig” of parsley, placed just so. Perhaps it was the small-town hick in me or the child, but that beautiful, frilly-leafed bouquet of deep green just somehow made me feel that there were many more things “out there” to be experienced.  Mom  spent a good bit of my childhood trying to instill in me a wonder of the world, but not just any world, the world that offered privilege, prosperity, parsley. Click on Read More for More About Parsley.

For example, the summer after my dad died, and I was twelve, mom and I flew to England to visit my sister, whose husband was in the Air Force. On a teacher’s salary, this was no small thing. Rather than flying straight through, we laid over in New York City so mom could take me to Bergdorf Goodman, Rockefeller Center and the United Nations. There was never any doubt in my mind that it was all about “expanding my horizons.”

Ironically, while we were in England, my brother-in-law got transferred to Spain, so compliments of the US Air Force, my sister and her husband, their four kids and me and my mom, drove for 2 months (that's five kids and three adults in their station wagon) all across Europe to Spain. Of course we were on a tight budget, camping most of the way, but what an adventure. We took the ferry from Dover to Belgium, took in the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, then moved on to Switzerland, Germany, France, Italy, ending up (for a month) in Spain. My horizons were bursting, and parsley was just the beginning.

I do, however, have a rather haunting parsley memory that marks a turning point in my life. OK, I know what you’re thinking, how could parsley turn a person’s life. Bear with me. When I had been dating my high school sweetheart (who was five years older than me) for a year or so we were at the old Zentner’s Steak House in San Angelo with a table-full of friends (probably some basketball tournament). Anyway, our plates arrived with the fancy parsley, which everyone typically left on their plates as we finished our meals. My soon-to-be husband and father of my children, said “You know the difference between parsley and pu__y?” Then he held up the parsley, tossed it onto his plate, and said, “No one eats this sh_t.”

I was so naive that I had no idea what that meant, but everyone else was laughing, so I felt that I should laugh too. I remember thinking, or more like feeling that life changed for me that day. It was much more complicated, and somewhat slipperier than I’d grown up thinking it would be. Less like “Father Knows Best” and more like “The Twilight Zone.” It seemed a door had opened revealing a world I didn’t understand, but I somehow knew that I had to walk through that door.

So mom was right, always eat the parsley because it is full of vitamins, and freshens your breath. Lord, and mom, know we need all the vitamins and freshness we can get, to make it down those dark, scary halls.


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