“A Bad Piece of Fish” #39

Posted on March 22, 2011


My father decided he wanted to use his coupons for a Japanese/Chinese fusion buffet in Lake Grove.  I expressed my concern over a place that would only charge five dollars for lunch, doubting it could be any good.  My mother said I should stop complaining and open my eyes to specials and spending less. 

So, at Hunan Heaven I’m watching my brother silently devouring his King Crab legs, my sister eating her spicy tuna rolls, and my parents at the buffet, double-fisted with piled up plates like we’re in a famine and there’s a stopwatch.  Hardly ten minutes go by before my father goes back up to the buffet to retrieve another plate.  “Slow down, Ivan,” my mother says to him.  “You slow down,” he shoots back.  The silent devouring at our table is only punctuated by the occasional comment or question from my father like, “So Daniel, you still gonna marry the shiksa?”  My sister says things to my shameless father like, “Don’t you think burping in public is disgusting?” to which my father replies, “When are you leaving, again?  Do you need a ride to the airport?”  The highlight of this particular adventure for me is the mini-brownie selection at the end of the buffet.

In the car ride home, my father is passing so much gas, my brother, sister and I are using our sleeves like gas masks in the backseat.  My mother says, “Oh my God, Ivan, you’re worse than the dog!”  We all laugh.

“This is not funny.  I don’t feel well.”

I say, “I feel like I’m going to barf.”

My sister screams, “Pull over!  I need to throw up from this smell!”

We drive to Mather Hospital and bring my father to the E.R., because it turns out he has food poisoning from the five dollar special I should have been more open to.

While he’s in there for an extraordinarily long time, my mother, brother, sister and I are bonding…talking about when we were little, how cute we were, how my sister used to put a leash on my brother and pretend he was her dog, etc.  It’s all very touching, except my attention is on a particular dark-skinned E.R. doctor that I had a brief exchange with.  My mother sees this and says, “Oh, Myra, come on.”  There’s something about the E.R. scrubs I find irresistible, and so I fake a trip to the bathroom in hopes of a second encounter.  My heart is racing, as there are no apple martinis around to quell my shyness.  He catches my eye and I start a conversation in passing, saying something like, “You think my father would notice if we left him here?”  He’s either really charming, or he digs me, too.  His name is Mohammed and he’s a Bengali Muslim from Staten Island.  What he lacks in height, he makes up in confidence.  He asks what I’m doing the next night, as it’s his night off.  I pretend to call my secretary on my invisible phone, to find out I am available and will pencil him in.  To keep him wanting more, I cut things short, leave the scene, so to speak.  No use in being too available at this point; I’ve learned better.

In the car ride home with my now sedated father, everyone, with the exception of my father is laughing at my brother, who is joking about my “Muslim boyfriend.”  My father doesn’t know what we’re talking about.  He says, “What are you laughing about?”

My mother says, “Myra met a doctor.”

My brother pipes in, “He celebrates the holiday of KABOOM!”

“What?” my father asks.

“He’s Muslim,” my mother says.

“Turn the car around!  Take me back to the hospital!” he screams.

They’re all laughing.  My brother’s on a roll.   He continues, “His name is Habib.”

My father slaps his forehead with his hand.  “I can’t hear anymore of this.”

“He wants to take Myra for a ride in his Halal truck,” my brother shouts.

I can’t help but laugh at that one.  He’s good, my brother.  I tell him he missed his calling as a stand-up.

By the time we get home, my brother, sister, and I shoot out of the car like rockets for some much-needed fresh air inhalation. 

I’ve been resisting looking at my phone, but I can’t help myself.  There’s a text message.  “Want to go to a Hookah bar tomorrow? – Mohammed.”  My sister just looks at me.  She says, “You should just go for it.  Who cares what they think?  It’s your life.”

“You’re right,” I say.  “And he’s a DOCTOR!” I exclaim further.  My sister and I high-five each other.

Then, we hear my brother from the other room shout out, “Hey Dad, wanna get some sushi for dinner?”  I hear my mother laughing hysterically from the kitchen.  That’s one thing my family is good for – humor.  I like when it’s like this.  When everyone’s laughing, there’s no place I’d rather be.


Posted in: Humor, Life