I finally remembered the last meal I shared with my father. That shit wasn’t easy to remember. It was ten years ago and I buried it because it, like my father himself, was hurtful and repulsive. My hypnotherapist and I had to do some serious excavating.
But we found it.
My father loved seafood, especially bouillabaisse. Odd, for an inlander–nobody else in my family will eat a bite of fish or anything from the water–but his palate was comparatively cultivated.
I could not cook bouillabaisse, but I knew how to cook a seafood pasta dish. The ingredients cost me $40 at a time when I was about to move across the continent and had less than a hundred bucks in my checking account.
I spent it because I wanted to make our meal together special. Because I was going Away.
My father was furious with me for leaving him. You know why: I was his meal ticket.
He pushed the plate aside and said that it was inedible, even though I’d cooked it just fine and it was the exact same dish he’d eaten with relish on previous occasions. This is something about Franz Adler: he would find a way to insult every gift or kind gesture or sacrifice you made to him…it was never enough or there was always something wrong.
I told The Collector this memory, after I uncovered it.
“We will do it again. Do you have any clothing from that period of your life?”
I considered. “I have the same suit I wore to defend my thesis. It was my best suit, my very best clothes.”
“Does it still fit you?”
“It does.” It’s a size 4. The pants are flare-leg, so it’s out of fashion now, but it really is a great suit. Navy blue with pinstripes, English-style, satin lined, little pockets everywhere, excellent tailoring. It cost $600 at Macy’s in Union Square, San Francisco. I wore it with a nice translucent blouse with French cuffs and cufflinks. I looked (and felt) like a boss.
“Wear it to dinner,” the Collector said. “I’ll call for you at 8 (pm).”
I took my best suit out of its plastic container and put it on, and then I sat on my bed and cried, thinking of how much time has gone by and how I never expected to be this way and what happened to me….?
I gathered myself up and refreshed my makeup so it didn’t look like I’d been crying and then walked out to the kitchen (adjacent to the dining room).
He had a pot boiling pasta and a steamer-skillet on the stove. Delicious cooking smells in the air. He was making mussels, clams, and prawns.
“Have a seat at the table, Margo! Dinner is almost ready. We are going to have a feast to celebrate your accomplishment. I am so proud that you are going to get your doctorate.”
I sat down at the table, telling myself It’s okay it’s okay it’s just a game this is just a fantasy game
Then I started to cry. Right there. In my suit, at the table.
TO BE CONTINUED