Thursday, April 7, 2011

Poppy and The Manager's Special Table

My Dad is one of my favorite people in the whole wide world.  I definitely got my sense of humor from my mom, but any sort of "common sensical qualities" I have acquired, have come directly from my father.  When I think about my Dad throughout my life, I see him as simultaneously proud and exasperated by me.  This is his usual reaction to just about every smart ass comment I have.  It is a special moment between us.

To give you a little background, my Dad has worked at Ford Motor Company his entire life.  He was nineteen when he was hired.  He works at the Truck Plant in Louisville.  He put me through college and paid for me to live in a sorority house by putting on coveralls everyday and sometimes working in conditions that reached over 120 degrees.  In my book, that is admirable.  He is the salt of the Earth, and his view of the World is a sensible one.  Being a man of few words is not the same thing as being simple-minded and I think in the Southern world that he lives in, where people feel the need to fill every available pause with words, his social approach is just more measured, more thought out.  He is also spot on when he evaluates a person - every time.  I, definitely, extracted my "observance mechanism" from him.

"That mouth is going to get you in trouble EVERY time," he would say when I would smart off to someone or come home with a "Talks too much" comment on my report card.  He was right, too.  I could site 15 examples where "that mouth" has gotten me into trouble, but I'll save that material for future posts because that is sort of the NATURE of this blog - my mouth.  I recently told my children, who are enamored with my father and put his picture as their wallpaper on their ITouches, that when I think of going out to a restaurant with Poppy, (my Dad) I think of two things - his telling me to be quiet, that I was "screaming" while I was telling a story, and him pointing to the least expensive thing on the menu and saying, "order this."

"But I don't want the fish sticks,"  I would protest.

"Be QUI-ET!  You are yelling, " my Dad would hiss.

He would then take the menu away from me when the waiter arrived and order the fish sticks before I could order for myself.  I would almost always add a salad after he was finished ordering for me (to stick it to him) and at this, he would sigh loudly as I asked for extra Ranch on the side.  He believed (and I knew this about him) that after you order you cannot change it or take it back.  Hilarious.  Listen, I worked all during college and at different points in my life as a waitress and this is NOT the case in the real world, but you could never tell him that.

To this day, I reflexively scan the menu for the cheapest item when I am at a restaurant.  Brad would order a steak at O'Charley's, and he has (gross), but I am always looking for the specials and splitting dinners for my kids.  Waste at a restaurant drives me nuts.  Ironically, my Dad's favorite thing is a buffet.  But you had better clean that plate

"I'll tell ya' what they like," he will say conspiratorially, insinuating my kids, "Hallie will eat the heck outta that Golden Corral buffet.  I ain't kiddin' ya'."

"Jesus, Dad.  I don't want to go to Golden Corral.  They don't serve WINE, remember?"

"Yea, but they got that dessert bar that's pretty good.  Eva just LOVES that dessert bar, boy."

"Can I bring in a flask?" I say as a smile spreads across my face.

"What's a flask?" my middle daughter, Mills, asks.

"It's what Poppy carries to work in in coveralls pocket,"I respond with a giggle.

"That mouth is gonna get you in trouble - every time."

I could site admirable quality after admirable quality, and hilarious interaction after hilarious interaction with my Dad, the ultimate straight man in my comic routine, but I cannot describe him without mentioning his penchant for the "Manager's Special" table at Kroger.

The man LOVES any food that is discounted and he is convinced that thirty seconds in the microwave can cure any fungus.  The shit in my parent's refrigerator would turn your stomach.  I don't know why, but if it is swimming in mayonnaise and it is over a week old, it is irresistible to my Dad. My uncle is the same way.

My mom jokes that when the employees at the Kroger are clearing the Manager's table of the stuff that is a health violation, that the manager says to them, "Oh, wait a few more minutes, one of the Schell (my maiden name) guys will be in to do that for you."

I always go to the Fresh Market when I am in town because it has the one word in it's title that you cannot use to describe one food item in my parent's house - fresh.  It is over priced, which drives my Dad nuts and he always sighs as he looks at the receipt when I come home from there.  He has given me a twenty to get myself something to eat and I assume he must have expected change.  I don't know and I don't care.

"Why'd ya get potato salad?  There's some from Kroger in the fridge, there," he says as he nods toward the door of the fridge.

"This is NEW potato salad  - the "new" referring to not only the type of potato, but to the date it was prepared."  I smirk.

"Ohhh.  There's nothing wrong with that salad.  I just got it this past week."

"It says Manager's Special on it, Dad, that's gross."

"Yea. That's gross, Poppy!" my kids chomp on Oreo cookies that are illuminating their teeth.

"Now, don't teach them that," my Dad whispers as he turns his back to them.

"Teach them what?"  I say as I roll my eyes, "how NOT to contract e.coli and salmonella poisoning at their grandparents house?"

"What's e-coli?" Mills asks, as she spits Oreo all over Poppy's shirt.

"What's almondella?" my youngest, who cannot pronounce her S's, looks up at her grandfather with her big brown eyes.

"Oh, nothin'."Poppy says while giving me the stink eye, "It's just something your mother invented to make her feel better about buying food that isn't worth a nickel."

Later that night (my Dad is a huge late night snacker) as he is heating up the fried chicken he smuggled from the Golden Corral and piling a heap of the nine-day-old Manager's Special potato salad on a plate, I hug him as tight as I can and tell him how much I love him.

"Luv you, too, hon.  Want some potato salad?" He is not making a joke.

"Not on your life." 

Fresh Market has the best chicken wings ever!  I really like their "beers around the world" package of twelve imported beers in a nice cardboard display case, as well.  It is a good gift to give a guy for a birthday present or host's gift.  Their prepared dinners are really good, too - especially if you just feel like cooking something special for two people.  Don't waste your money on a stuffed Lamb Chop for your kids, for Christ's sake.  Just heat something up you got at the Manager's Table last Tuesday and call it a night. 

Pic above is at Disney World last year.  My kids can get Poppy to do the most random stuff.  He NEVER would have done that when I was growing up.

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