5 March 2022
This is the story I was reading last night when Island View suffered its brief power outage and I was cut off from the WFNB Zoom reading. My apologies for the break in communications. First the text and then the live reading.
I open a can of tom8to soup and heat it on the stove. I slice the remains of yesterday’s loaf of bread into one-inch cubes and fry them in olive oil and garlic. Tom8to soup with croutons. Then I put two slices of bread in the toaster. My father will only eat toast soaked in butter and layered with Marmite when he eats tomahto soup.
“Lunch is ready,” I call out.
The black American Cocker Spaniel, bought by my mother in a moment of madness, by telephone, unseen, camps in the kitchen. It nests at the far end of the table, by the stove, and defends its territory with warning growls and a snapping of yellowed teeth. I do my best to avoid the dog.
“Dad, your lunch is ready,” I call out, a little bit louder. Dog, as my father calls it, growls and clatters its teeth. It has hidden a treasure in the folds of its old, gray comfort blanket, and guards it with the fierce, loving worry of a dragon protecting its golden hoard.
My father enters the kitchen just as I place the soup on the table.
“I’m not ready to eat,” my father growls. Put it back in the pot.”
“What’s wrong, dad? I thought you were hungry.”
“My teeth,” my father mumbles through a mouthful of pink gums. “I can’t find my teeth.”
“Where on earth did you put them?”
“I don’t know. If I knew where I’d put them, I wouldn’t have lost them.”
My father circulates round the kitchen opening drawers, lifting saucepan lids, and shaking empty yogurt pots to see if they’ll offer up the rattling sound of lost teeth.
“I can’t find them anywhere. I can’t eat lunch without my teeth.”
“But it’s only soup, dad, tom8to soup.”
“I don’t like tom8to soup. Your mother always made tomahto soup. Why can’t you be more like your mother?”
“Sorry, dad. I’ll call it tomahto soup, if that will make you feel better. But it’s still made out of tom8toes.”
“Don’t be so sarcastic. Help me find my teeth,” my father stomps towards the stove and Dog growls fiercely from its blanket as it guards its treasure.
“Take that, you dirty dog,” my father pokes Dog in the ribs with his stick and Dog howls and spits out what it is chewing.
“There they are,” my father’s voice trembles with excitement. He bends down, picks up his teeth, still hairy from the blanket and bubbly from Dog’s saliva, and pops them into his mouth. “That’s better,” he says, sitting down at the table. “Now I can enjoy my lunch.”