Thursday, January 23, 2014

In Toto

"What is he carrying on about?" my mother asked as she sat down at our kitchen table for her regular Sunday morning visit.

"He's reading the editorial page," said the Lovely Bride. "You know how he gets."

My mother frowned at me "Why do you do that to yourself?"

"Otherwise I'd take it out on my family," I explained.

The Lovely Bride muttered, "It's not working."

"Don't you have wifely chores to do?" I asked her.

"Judging by your wife's expression, this would be a good time for you to shut up," my mother suggested.

"Good luck with that," said my youngest son.

The Lovely Bride gave me one final look and then turned to my mother and asked, "What's new with you?"

"I'm considering a safari," my mother said.

"I thought you were going to Sarasota," I said.

"I am."

"They don't have safaris in Sarasota," I said. "Besides, I thought you were attending Clown College."

My youngest smirked. "You're the one who went to Clown College, Dad."

"The last time I heard that I laughed so hard I fell off my dinosaur," I told him. He sneered at me in return.

"They're certainly noisy, aren't they?" my mother said.

"I've learned to ignore them," said the Lovely Bride.

"Anyway," said my mother, "I am not going to Clown College. I am going to an arts program."

"You're going on an art safari?" I asked. "I don't think you can hunt artists, even in Florida."

"I'm talking about a photographic safari."

"You're going to take photos of artists? That's kind of meta."

"Not in Florida," she said in exasperation. "In Africa."

"Mom, Sarasota isn't in Africa. Are you sure you didn't go to Clown College?"

"I am visiting Sarasota next week. Then, later, on a separate trip, I would go to Africa. Is that clear enough for you?"

"Why didn't you just say so?"

"He is particularly difficult today, isn't he?" my mother said to the Lovely Bride.

"Trust me, it'll get worse," the Lovely Bride said. "Football is on later and he likes to yell, 'Move the chains!' after every play."

My mother shook her had sadly. "I have no idea what you're talking about, but you have my sympathy."

"You did warn me," said the Lovely Bride.

"I tried," said my mother. "In any event, I enjoyed Africa so much the last time I was there, I'd like to go again. I'm afraid my memory is not what it used to be and I need to travel while I can."

"Your brain is fine," I said. "Surprising, given the heroin problem you had during my formative years."

"No, I can tell I'm not as sharp as I used to be," she said.

"For God's sake," I said. "You were just in Switzerland for twelve days by yourself. And it's not like you got on the plane by accident. Stop being such a worrywart."

"I'm just being realistic."

"I thought you made the doctor give you a test and that came back just fine."

"Doctors don't know everything."

"That's what I keep telling her," I said, pointing at the Lovely Bride. "Why doesn't anybody believe me?"

"Evaluating the wisdom of a bourbon and sausage diet doesn't exactly require a sophisticated medical background," said the Lovely Bride.

I shrugged. "My cardiologist is a quack."

"He went to Stanford," said my mother.

"So did Bernie Madoff," I replied.

My mother and the Lovely Bride looked at me for a moment and sighed in unison.

"Give me some," I said, holding my fist out to the youngest for a bump. He ignored me, but Lucy the dog gnawed on my hand a few times.

"Where do you want to go on safari?" the Lovely Bride asked.

"South Africa, I think," said my mother. "I've been to Tanzania, and although it was lovely, I don't feel a need to return there."

"Bring me some rhino horn," I said.

The Lovely Bride gave me a frozen smile. "Don't bother," she said.

"South Africa would be cool," said my youngest. "They have hippopotamuses."

"Yes," said my mother. "That's one of the things I'd like to see."

"What's the point?" I asked. "You couldn't tell anyone about it."

"Why?" asked my mother.

"HIPAA regulations," I said, gleefully.

 "Dear God," said the Lovely Bride.

"Move the chains!" I yelled.