BOB came for a visit this weekend. Dad and SOS were beyond excited. SOB and I were consumed by logistics (but happy).
I was running late on Friday so I asked BOB (who, contrary to apocryphal legend, was, in fact, born and raised in NYC) to take care of ordering dinner.
I walked into Dad’s house, even later than I estimated. All gathered were waiting for me to make decisions about the dinner menu. Clearly, I have made life too easy on those assembled.
“[BOB] and [SOS], go and figure out what we are eating from this menu!”
SIDEBAR: I rummaged through the menus and handed one to BOB. Seriously, I could have phoned this in.
SIDEBAR: Cuisine? You need to ask? Chinese, of course. After all, it is the Sabbath and we are Jews.
After two or three calls to the take-out place, I learned that BOB was a little rusty about ordering etiquette in NYC. Nevertheless, as soon as he hung up from the last correction, the deliveryman showed up at Dad’s door.
SIDEBAR: More proof for my hypothesis that someone stirs the wok on the back of the delivery bicycle and, no matter what we order, we get whatever the mobile kitchen whips up.
Let’s just say that this was not our usual selection. It had a Texas flair. We were about to eat HOG HEAVEN. Because pigs died for our meal.
Earlier, BOB was bemoaning WOBOB’s fixation on having a pet pig. I almost thought BOB’s aversion to a pet pig had something to do with his cultural heritage. The dinner menu was proof otherwise.
Then, I had sympathy not for BOB, but for the potential pet pig. Poor pig, thinking that if the family will eat his/her relatives, that the pet pig might be next.
As I have aged (and as life has steamrolled over me) I have become less doctrinaire about most things. Still, not eating pork or other treyf wasn’t born of religious conviction.
SIDEBAR: treyf means unclean. It is often used to refer to non-kosher food.
I don’t digest dairy well; I am allergic to most seafood; and Mom and Dad didn’t serve pork in the house. The last time I remember eating spareribs was before BOB’s Bar Mitzvah, in 1974.
Nevertheless, I was shocked initially at BOB’s order: pork dumplings, spareribs, pork fried rice. Every vegetable dish had meat in it. “Part vegetarian” is now a new dish classification in our family.
And, remembering how Grandma ate from kosher plates with her own kosher food even in her beloved daughter’s home made me a little queasy.
Secretly, I have had a yen for spareribs for about 10 years. I was inwardly delighted at being so close to the forbidden fruit and knowing we were so far away from Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) that, well, what the hell?
And, bonding with BOB over a sparerib and breaking any number of taboos in my parents’ house were gifts. And, when Dad is the way he is, and Mom is dead, and loved ones in our generation are facing down mortality, eating pork seemed so unimportant, especially in exchange for a shared moment with my big brother.
And we haven’t even discussed what was on the pizzas for Saturday night dinner. I couldn’t even try it.
Let’s just say, BOB likes him some pork products.
BOB is a loving guy and, I have determined after this weekend, that while he wants to make his family happy, he is just concerned that a pet pig wouldn’t be safe with him.
After eating with him this weekend, I respect that.