Me: I’m starving!
I spot a bag of bakery pretzels on the counter.
Me: May I?
Stephanie: They’re old. Really old. They’re getting stale. But help yourself. My dad brought them from Philly.
Me: Your dad’s here?
I grab a pretzel twist out of the bag. It is a little hard, but not too hard to eat. I grab another as I follow Stephanie into the living room.
Stephanie: He drove down three days ago. He just went upstairs to get something. Oh – there he is. Dad, this is Goldie, Primo's girlfriend. Goldie, this is my dad, Stephanie’sDad Last Name.
Me: Nice to meet you, Mr. Stephanie’sDad’s Last Name.
Stephanie’s dad: Goldie! Stephanie has told me about you! It’s a pleasure to meet you at last. Please, call me Stephanie’sDad. I heard you say you’re hungry. Stephanie, let’s feed this woman. You want a drink? What do you want to drink? A pop? Water? What can I get for you?
(NB Stephanie and her dad are from South Philly. There is an accent specific to that area that I cannot capture so I am not even going to try. But if you know the South Philly accent, imagine anything from Stephanie’s mouth and from Stephanie’sDad’s mouth with the accent.)
Me: Water would be fine. But I can get it.
Stephanie’s dad: No, no, no. Let me. Stephanie, let’s warm up some of that gravy I brought. I’m hungry, too. Let’s have some lunch. Goldie, I made the gravy last week and put it in the freezer to bring it down with me.
Stephanie: You know. Gravy.
Me: Your dad froze gravy to bring with him?
Stephanie: Oh! No! Not like gravy from meat. For spaghetti. Tomato sauce.
Me: I’ve never heard it called that.
Stephanie: But that’s what everyone calls it!
Me: Not in Texas!
Stephanie: Well, now you know the right way to call it. And you’ll get to taste what it should taste like. My dad makes the best gravy.
We sit at the kitchen counter and eat. It is delicious. It is delicious gravy.
(I feel so cool that I can refer to “gravy.”)
Stephanie: Goldie has been finding out what life is like with Sly and Doris.
Stephanie’s dad: That
She was something else. She was a looker. When Stephanie married Jack, I tell
you. That woman was something. A nice, nice lady.
I raise my eyebrows in doubt.
Stephanie’s dad: Yes. She is a special lady. She’s changed – she’s had some rough times. Don’t judge her by how she is now. That husband of hers – he does not treat her right. I ignore him, but she is a nice lady. She has had very bad times, but before – she is a lovely lady.
Me: Stephanie’sDad, I don’t want to be impertinent, but how old are you?
Stephanie’sDad: How old do you think I am?
I study him carefully. Stephanie is my age, so he can’t be much younger than his mid-60s unless he got an early start on fatherhood.
Me: Early 70s?
Stephanie’sDad: I’m 84 years old.
Me: Eighty four! You’re much older than Sly and Doris.
Stephanie’sDad: You have to stay young up here. You can’t give up on life. And I’m lucky that I don’t have anything wrong with me physically. I play golf every day. I volunteer at the rehab center and teach golf to some of the patients. I have old people I visit. I take them lunch. I have things to do. I don’t have time to act old.