Bronnie’s seventy-seven-year-old accomplished-lawyer-dad was too formidable to be cute. He’s a very tall man, broad-shouldered, with horn-rimmed glasses and tinted hair that he keeps pushing back with one very large hand. I think I made him anxious, standing over him in his kitchen on my first day of employment, which involves an hour or two a day making him lunch and doing the dishes. As I said, he just had foot surgery, and he can’t stand or get around without his wheelie thing, which is like a razor scooter, only it has a bunch of wheels, for maximum stability, and a lambskin-covered seat where he rests his bad knee and then pushes off with the good foot. If you know what I mean.
So I was standing over him, because all he can do is sit, and I don’t think this is a man who has much experience with, or appetite for, being either vulnerable around strangers or stood over by some tall chick with big black boots on, even if I am Deitch, and therefore mostly capable of only Deitching things. Anyway, we made a few deals: I wouldn’t stay in the kitchen while he ate (“I don’t want my meal to be a spectator sport,” he said), and I’d be completely fine, and not get annoyed, if and when he told me exactly, exactly, exactly how to cook what he wanted cooked, and clean what he wanted cleaned.
Feeling like a complete moron these days anyway (and totally shrunken to a state of total, cosmic insecurity)—constantly and totally Deitching everything up—I welcomed the instructions on how to serve lunch. And, it turns out, Bronnie’s dad and I are of like minds on some things: We both use paper towels as napkins when we’re just hanging with ourselves; and we both like gefilte fish, and canned fruit.
Anyway, I learned today that if you scrub a frying pan while it’s resting on the floor of the sink, rather than holding it in space with one hand, and scrubbing with the other, it’s easier to clean. And I learned that if you pour boiling hot chicken broth over cold leftover noodles, they’ll warm up. And I learned that life really sucks sometimes—you’re seventy-seven, and you know that if you fall off your scooter you might break a hip; you’re fifty four, and you can’t do anything about your relentlessly broken heart—but, oh, well: If you’re lucky, maybe you can make soup for someone who needs it, or you can eat soup made for you.