As I have been dealing with some family stuff, I am reminded of my Grandpa! One of the greatest men I have ever known. I miss him passionately and would like to think that he would be proud of me!
To say that my grandfather never knew how to eat with his mouth shut would be an understatement. Ritualistically we went to Benjie’s Deli where the weekly embarrassment would begin. I don’t know that he ever looked at a menu because for as long as I can remember, he always ordered liver and onions and coffee—black and piping hot.
Thank God the owner and all the waitresses knew him because at least that would reduce the mortification of his ordering technique as well as his table manners. When we were seated by the hostess, the rest of us tried to jockey for position so that we wouldn’t have to sit directly across from him; this was also known as “the firing zone.” But inevitably, one of us always had to endure the hour long torture of seeing how his food was masticated. Looking back, those are the times that make me smile because we think about the random particles of half eaten food hanging from his mouth and being shot across the table as if they were missiles aimed at some unknown enemy.
Not only was the eating process a mortifying experience, so was dealing with the waitress. The highlight of the meal would include him snapping his fingers in the air and yelling out (with food still being swallowed), “Hey honey, I need some more coffee!” or the occasional “Can I get another refill!” We had become so accustomed to this routine that we could almost tell when he needed some more coffee—it was about the time that he quit slurping it because it wasn’t scalding hot anymore.
After he died it was too difficult for us to go to Benjie’s without him. When we drove by, our hearts would break because that was “our” place. I don’t know how many years it was before we went back, at least 5, but now when we go, the experience isn’t quite the same—without Grandpa.