REBEL WITH A CAUSE

“Come in here please, Connor!” I called out to my son.

Connor came bounding into the kitchen. “What’s up, Mom?”

“Have you seen the bag of frozen French fries and the burgers we just bought?”

“Not since we left the store. Aren’t they in that bag on the floor by the fridge with all the other frozen stuff?”

“No” I replied. “I just looked through the bag. Funny, I could have sworn they were right on top. You know, this happened the other day; Dad couldn’t find the box of donuts or the hot dogs.”

“Did you check the receipts, Mom?”

“Yes. Everything was listed, even the missing food. Dad said he was going to call Costco but I’m not sure he did. They obviously forgot to pack those items.”

“Yeah, that store was super busy; I can see how they might have overlooked something. Well, good luck, Mom. If I can help let me know.”

“Actually Connor, there is something you can do for me when you have a minute. There’s a box of old photos you can bring down from the third-floor storage room.”

“Sure, Mom, but I was heading over to Joey’s to play video games for a while. OK if I bring the box down when I get home?”

I gave him a “thumbs up”.

I texted my husband to see if he had called Costco; he replied with an eye-roll emoji and wrote that he totally forgot about calling. “OK, no worries. I’ll handle it” I texted back. Now to call the store about my dilemma.

After speaking to a couple of people and being put on hold several times, I was assured nothing was left behind at the store. The manager said I could bring in my receipts and they’d issue a refund. That was fine with me but it still didn’t explain what happened to our lost items.

When Connor came home, he went straight into the den to watch TV. “Excuse me, bud. Aren’t you forgetting something?” He looked at me with a blank face. “My photos?”

Smacking his forehead and groaning, Connor headed upstairs. “And don’t forget to walk the dog!” I called after him.

Not even a minute went by before I heard Connor yelling for me.

“Mom! Come up here – quick!”

I raced up the stairs.

“What’s wrong? Are you OK?” I asked nervously.

“I’m fine, Mom. I heard noises in here; check this out.”

We entered a guest bathroom which we never used.

“Look what I found” he said. Balanced on the edge of the bathtub was our missing bag of French fries – half-eaten.

“What’s going on here?”

“Take a look.” Connor drew back the shower curtain. Peering over the edge of the tub was our golden retriever, Rebel, moaning. Surrounding him were the empty packages of all our missing food. He look at us with those big sad doggy eyes.

“Oh, Rebel! What have you done?” I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry. “You little thief! Poor baby. Sounds like you gave yourself a nasty bellyache. C’mon boy, let’s get you to the vet. It’s gonna be OK.”  

Rebel

NAR © 2021

LA FAMIGLIA

“Course One: Escarole Soup. Course Two: Salad. Gina, what is this – Sunday dinner or an Italian wedding?” 

My girlfriend Gina showed me a copy of the menu her mother had planned for dinner. It was a seven course feast! “Do you eat like this every Sunday?” 

“No, silly – only when we have company. This week it’s my dad’s side of the family. There’s a lot a people and mom always says it’s better to have too much food than not enough.” 

“Wait a second. There’s going to be other people besides your parents? Like how many?”

Gina started counting on her fingers.  “About 18, maybe 20.” 

I’m going to meet 20 strangers and you didn’t think to warn me??” 

“Oh, don’t worry. They’re gonna love you.” 

“No. They’ll be employing Italian interrogations tactics. They’ll chew me up and spit me out. I’m Irish – I don’t stand a chance!” 

Gina laughed. “Oh stop exaggerating. We’re not the mob, ya know. Just mob!” 

And she was right. I couldn’t believe the number of people that descended on her house. They were loud, funny and very welcoming.

Gina’s mom set the table extravagantly, using the best plates, utensils and glasses. And the food was incredible. Besides the soup and salad there was an antipasto, homemade pasta, a huge platter of meatballs and sausages, two roasts, a bunch of vegetables I couldn’t pronounce, fennel, fruit, nuts, desserts and coffee. Gina’s uncles and male cousins ate like there was no tomorrow and no one stopped talking the entire time – except for Gina’s grandmother who didn’t utter a sound and stared at me with beady eyes the whole day. Honestly, that tiny woman dressed in black from head to toe scared me to death. 

As the coffee was being served, Gina’s dad got up, went to the cupboard and returned with a miniature dower chest made of highly polished wood with the finest Italian marble inlay. Placing the box on the table, he opened it to reveal an assortment of expensive imported cigarettes. All the men lit up and a bottle of anisette appeared out of nowhere.

Gina’s Uncle Vito produced a deck of cards from his vest pocket. “Ya know how to play Red Dog, Stan?” he asked me.

Um … it’s Dan, sir. And no, I’m not familiar with the game.” 

“Hey, no problem, Irish. We’re gonna teach ya. And don’t look so nervous. We may rob ya but we ain’t gonna kill ya. For some reason our Gina likes ya and if she likes ya, we all likes ya.” 

While we played cards, Gina’s cousins Louie and Frankie played their accordions and the women danced; it was the most surreal experience of my life. 

Suddenly grandma rose from her chair. Slowly she walked right over to me and looked me square in the eyes. She grinned and pinched my cheek till it was beet red. And la famiglia howled.

I swear 50 years later her mark of approval is still on my face. 

NAR © 2019

HONEYSUCKLE AND PROVOLONE

The minute she walked into my little grocery store, I was blown away. She knocked my socks off. Even through the crack in the storage room door I was dazzled by this profusion of red hair the color of a bright autumn day, delicate skin with a smattering of freckles and captivating emerald eyes. And I fell head over heels. 

I’m Bruno Deluca – or Mr. Monotone compared to this rainbow butterfly who just floated into my market. I have the traditional Italian look – dark brown hair and eyes and a perpetual deep brown tan. But I have a sparkling smile and dimples “to die for”, as my Aunt Francesca always said. 

This amber goddess stood in front of the meat and cheese display, a bewildered look on her face. Here’s my big chance. I bolted from the back room and positioning myself directly in her line of vision, I said “Welcome to Deluca’s. May I help you with something, miss?” [Smooth, right?] 

She looked up and I flashed her the old ‘to die for’ smile. And she smiled back, blushing winsomely. My knees grew weak when she spoke, just a trace of a lilting Irish brogue. 

“Everything looks so delicious! I don’t know what to order, even if could pronounce the names!” And when she laughed I swear I saw musical notes wafting through the air. 

“No problem” I replied as I swiftly came around to her side, naming and describing all the meats and cheeses. 

She smelled like honeysuckle. I smelled like provolone. 

She still couldn’t make up her mind so I tried something radical. “How about I give you a few samples – on the house – if you promise to come back and buy something, even if it’s one slice of salami?” 

She hesitated for a second, then laughingly said “You have a deal, Mr…..” 

“Deluca. Bruno Deluca. And you are…..?” 

She extended a delicate hand. “Rowan McCourt. Pleased to meet you, Bruno.”

Rowan, eh? That’s a lovely name. What does it mean?” 

Tentatively touching her hair she said “Little Red-haired One. And what does Bruno mean?” 

I simply stated “Brown” and we both burst out laughing! 

I packed up a nice selection and some Italian bread. “Here ya go, Rowan, and don’t forget…..” 

“This is too much, Bruno! Thank you!” 

“Go! Enjoy! See you soon.” 

True to her word, Rowan returned two days later. “Bruno, everything was delicious! Now what shall I buy?” She browsed for a minute then said “That looks incredible! What is it?” 

“That’s lasagna – already cooked. Just heat and enjoy. How much do you want?” 

“Enough for a few portions” Rowan replied. 

“Ah, leftovers. Good thinking” I said. 

“Actually, Bruno, I was hoping you would join me for dinner tonight.”

“I’d love to” I whispered while inside I was screaming “Mama mia! I’d love to!” 

“Wonderful! Here’s my address. And Bruno, can you bring some wine and bread?” she asked. 

I nodded mutely. Smiling, she said “Bruno, I’m very happy you’ll be joining me.” Taking the bag, she danced out the door. 

NAR ©2019

https://fivedotoh.com/2022/09/28/fowc-with-fandango-market

THE REGISTER

“Saunders B&B, a beautiful old country Georgian house in Tipperary, set in lovely wooded grounds and gardens. A warm welcome combined with superb food makes this gracious house ideal” recited my bride Fiona breathlessly.

How do you do that??” I asked for the fiftieth time since we met. 

“I can’t help having a photographic memory. It’s a blessing and a curse but it sure came in handy when studying ‘The Principles of Macroeconomics!” she laughed. 

It had been raining lightly and getting accustomed to driving on the other side of the road was challenging. As we turned the bend, the B&B appeared before us looking exactly like something out of a Thomas Moore poem. Just then the sun broke through the clouds, a rainbow in its wake. 

Look, Dylan! A rainbow! declared Fiona excitedly. “Maybe there’s a pot of gold at the end.” 

I chuckled at her enthusiasm. We entered the old but immaculate building and a kindly lady was there to greet us at the front desk. “I’m guessing you’re the Colcannons. I’m Kathleen. Welcome! Would you be kind enough to sign the register?” 

Fiona giddily signed the guest book. “Ah, newlyweds! There’s no mistaking that glow about ya, lass” Kathleen said,  smiling broadly. “Our last guests departed yesterday so you’ll have the whole place to yourselves.” Handing us the key to our room, she said dinner would be served at 7pm. 

Our room was charming with a view of the back gardens. Just before dinner we checked out the library. It was small but offered a variety of books from ‘Time Travellers’ to the writings of Diogenes. Dinner was carrot soup and White Pudding, a popular Irish meat dish, followed by scones and chocolate mousse. Exhausted and full, we retired early, looking forward to sightseeing in the morning. 

The next day we were served a traditional Irish breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash, toast, marmalade and Lyons Tea. “I am stuffed! You up for a walk?” I asked Fiona, and off we went exploring. Typical of Ireland, the day was overcast and as we walked along the path we came upon a cemetery. Slowly we weaved our way among the headstones, reading aloud the names as we went along. 

This is one for the Guinness book of coincidences” said Fiona“Yesterday when I signed the register I remember seeing the name ‘White’ and dinner was White Pudding. Another name in the register was ‘Lyons’ and this morning at breakfast we had Lyons Tea. That’s incredible!” 

“Both those names are pretty common, Fiona. I don’t think that’s incredible.” 

 Walking along we discovered Kathleen in the garden gathering vegetables. “For tonight’s dinner”, she explained. “A combination of mashed potatoes, cabbage and bacon.” 

“That sounds delicious!” declared Fiona “What’s it called?” 

Suddenly Kathleen whipped out a machete, grinned maniacally and shrieked “Colcannon!” 

The last thing I remember was seeing Fiona’s head roll to the ground and an excruciating pain in my neck while Kathleen cackled hideously. Then the whole world went black. 

NAR © 2019