Saturday, September 13, 2008

Nancy Reagan and the Poisonous Cloves

I affectionately call my mom "Nancy Reagan" because she looks like good ole Nancy, is tiny (maybe 5'3"), and a little over a buck - when wearing her Bling maybe a buck ten. She also, like Nancy, at one time had a love of St. John suits.

She has little sayings like, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" (true actually) and when I have a bad day, tells me to "Put a penny in your pocketbook." To which I reply, Is it 1846? Because a) that was the last time a penny could actually buy anything and b) that is the last time the word "pocketbook" was used.

When I sprouted to 5'10" at 13, combined with major teenage angst, little Nancy was at a loss on reeling her daughter-with-a-sizable-attitude in. Growing up, friends and family nicknamed me "Parker No Eat" (which is ironic now). My mom would cook only three things: beef strogonoff (swimming in sour cream), hot tuna noodle casserole, and not just burnt, but charred grilled cheese sandwiches. The sound of my childhood was the scraping of a knife against burnt toast with my mom cursing under her breath. Hence the "no eat" nickname.

Over the years Nancy has become a much better cook and a great baker, however you can still count on the bottom of the rolls at a holiday dinner being black as night. My brother and I hold them up to each other across the table and giggle. If Nancy catches us, she says, "Oh just scrape it off for Christ's sake."

Much like Val's mom, nothing is thrown away and everything is "still good." My parents are well-off yet my mom still recycles used tin foil. Her freezer is a virtual cornicopia of mystery meals wrapped in old, very wrinkled tin foil. One time in High School, after a night of partying, Val and I opened the freezer (a.k.a. the "Tin Foil Smithsonian Exhibit") to find one thing not completely wrapped in tin foil: a gallon of homemade vanilla ice cream. "Yummo," as that little sausage Rachel Ray would say. Nancy loves ice cream and so do I. I peeled off the lid and the light yellow creaminess was perfect as I dug the largest spoon I could find into its goodness. I immediately began to scream, "What the?.... Ahhh, nooo! (Gag, Spit, Hurl) Are you kidding me?" It was actually chicken broth and, in particular made from the fatty chicken parts, hence the pretty light yellow color. I thought I would spew my 6 California Coolers that I had drank earlier with Val all over our kitchen. I threw the ice cream container back into its tin foil tomb, completely disgusted.

My sister is much more patient than me, especially when it comes to our parents. On a recent visit home, she offered to clean out their pantry and kitchen in general. I suggested she wear a Hazmat suit before doing this. Later she told me she found a jar of some very suspect-looking sun dried tomatoes. She was unable to find an expiration date, but no need as she immediately spotted the label which read "Price Club Sun Dried Tomatoes". The "Price Club" was a warehouse store we went to when we lived in Tucson -  back in the 1980's. This also meant that over the years, these precious tomatoes were moved with them to three different states.

The piece de resistance was an item that my mom actually told me about and thought was funny. She said they had a jar of cloves from 1936. I immediately had a visual of a newspaper headline reading: "Mother Kills Entire Family With 1936 Cloves in Christmas Ham." I said, "Nancy, for real?" And she replied, "Oh, its no big deal - they are still good."




Anonymous said...

Parker - I think our mothers may have been separated at birth and you need to contact me immediately about the possibility of us being cousins.

While your mom has a tin foil collection, my mom actually washes out zip lock bags and hangs them on the dish rack to dry. What the hell is up with that? It's "recycling" she says. Right... my parents, leaders of the Green movement.

My mom also has a freezer problem. She freezes EVERYTHING, and I mean anything that could be eaten either starts or finishes it's life out in the freezer - usually with a thick layer of perma frost on it like it was stored at the North Pole.

When my parents sold the house we grew up in there was a can of green beans in the pantry that had actually rusted out at the seams, still sitting there from the 1970's!!!

Anonymous said...

so funny, thank you so much for your comment. my mom also freezes eveything.
Hope you keep reading, there for sure will be more good stories about good ol' Nancy