Tuesdays are "ethnic" nights for my meat and potato parents.
I learned about this quaint custom only because I've gone out to the Northern Neck to visit them so often on Tuesdays.
And while you'd think that meant that my Mom gets wildly creative making dinner, it usually boils down to tacos or spaghetti, occasionally frozen Chinese food. Always on Tuesday.
So my jaw dropped a little today when I get there and, for the sake of conversation, inquire what's up for ethnic night. I'm amazed when Mom says they might not bother tonight because she made a frittata for dinner last night.
First off, this is front page news since I had no clue she even knew what a frittata was, much less made them, since she's long been firmly in the cream of mushroom canned soup casserole camp.
My Dad, shambling in from the family room and overhearing this discussion, joins in. "Yes and there was some left over, so she promised I could have it for breakfast this morning. Imagine my disappointment when I sat down to a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast!"
From the other side of the kitchen, Mom shrugs and says, "I forgot." To her, it's no big deal but not to Dad, who'd apparently had sweet dreams of more frittata, only to have them dashed.
A modern woman might have told him to get up and warm up the leftover fritatta if he wanted it so badly, but that's not how my parents' marriage works.
My reason for visiting today was that Mom wanted to clean out several closets and requested my assistance doing it, knowing how much pleasure it gives me to get rid of stuff and they've got six decades of accumulation.
One of the jobs involved cleaning out the six drawers - crammed with spools of thread (dry-rotted?), grosgrain and satin ribbons, elastic and dozens of buttons - of my Richmond grandmother's wooden treadle sewing machine. To put that in perspective, Grandma's been dead since 1984 and my Mom doesn't sew and we were just now getting around to cleaning out those drawers.
Once those chores were finished and I loaded up my car with donations for Diversity Thrift, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine and take a short walk before I left.
Heading down what's known as the "crab road" because it ends where a crab-processing shack once sat and is now home to million dollar condos, I was happy just to be outside and stretching my legs. It's not a particularly long road, but it is right along the river, meaning every breath is a deliciously salty one, especially on a breezy day like today.
Out of the corner of my eye I see something moving on the porch of a raised house, unsure at first what it is, but finally realizing it's a hand behind a window. Whose hand, I have no idea, but everyone waves at everyone down here, so I wave back and keep going.
Walking back toward the house, I spot a guy in his front yard and say hello.
"Who are you?" he asks enthusiastically, extending his hand for a shake. "I'm Alan." Here's the thing: I met Alan a couple of months ago when I'd gone out for a walk after Mom and I had finished some baking, so we'd already talked. I know he lives in Richmond and bought this place five years ago. Hell, I even know his walking route.
So I razz him about not recognizing me and he points at my head. "Your hair's different," he insists, trying to save face since now he clearly does recall our last chat and wants to pick up where we left off.
Twenty minutes later, I know which neighbors had burst pipes, how far up the water came after the snow storm surge and why it's better to do a hip replacement from the front rather than the back. Apparently it was Alan waving at me from inside his house earlier.
When we finally say so long and I turn to go, he takes one last shot, gruffly saying "Your hair's different!" to my back.
Oddly enough, I flash back immediately to 5th grade. I was walking the two blocks home from elementary school and Scott Rudiger, a boy in my class, was walking behind me, talking to my back. When I didn't respond, he threw some broken glass from the sidewalk at the back of my feet, confusing the hell out of me and making me walk faster.
When I got home, I asked my Mom why a boy would throw bits of glass at my feet. "Because he likes you," she said with authority and a few months later, Scott's best friend confirmed it.
Alan likes me, or at least talking to me.
And, just so the curiosity doesn't kill you, Mom and Dad decided to have spaghetti and meatballs for tonight's ethnic night. Fingers crossed, Dad'll get that frittata for breakfast.