Monday, March 23, 2009

Of Fish Sandwiches And Reverence

Wife: (while staring at a pan filled with three uncooked sausages) I hate to say this, but they look like little embryos or something.
Me: Didn’t I recommend you start a blog?
Wife: I knew I shouldn’t have said anything.

Presumably owing to a strange shift in the cosmos, McDonald’s is again promoting the oft-lambasted Filet-o-Fish sandwich. Were my blog audience comprised primarily of gasoline huffing truckers or college burnouts, said ad campaign (2 for $3.33) would already have translated into ichthyo-orgasm followed by repeated trips to a (choose one) truck-stop restroom infiltrated with prostitutes or dormitory toilet stall littered ankle-deep with beer cans. For the rest of our readers – whether completely opposed to the cardiac arresting attributes of simulated food, or simply confused by the notion of orange cheese melted atop a perfectly processed block of the cheapest fish nabbed from the least desirable section of the ocean – your healthy intentions are saluted, but your risk aversions are bewailed.

My father, rest his soul, was never afraid to sink his chompers into the minced fish value meal prepared by the always irritable crew of the Golden Arches. While most patrons ease into their bolted seats with the known quantity of a Quarter Pounder, Big Mac, or McNugget banquet, he rolled the dice and consumed an objectionable sea creature – possibly spawned in the manager’s fish tank – like some fast food revolutionary; bent on shifting convention amidst the fluorescent-bathed kings and drive-through queens of our modern dining age. Although my father’s rebellious acts were nary more than occasional subtleties against principle (like ordering rum raisin ice cream purely because it was a menu rarity, without regard to his indifference toward rum or raisins), these screwball antics piled high throughout the years. In other words, the man didn’t get a nose ring or back breaking Ace of Spades tattoo to exhibit his individuality. He ordered the Filet-o-Fish. Repeatedly. Because he knew you didn’t have the balls to travel that road, even though his pants were busting.

Notwithstanding this curious pseudo-renegade trait, plenty of my father’s genetic morsels were passed along and reflected upon as I aged out of adolescence. Certainly not my right-brained artistic persuasions (dad couldn’t print legibly, much less draw a stick figure), quick witted sarcasm (primarily drawn from my mother’s Brooklyn-bred sensibilities) or detached earlobes (thank God), but there exist attributes in this head which mirror subsets of his personality. He never worried. About anything. His mindset was eternally optimistic. If you promised to be home by ten, then waltzed in reeking like a distillery four hours later, he’d simply have assumed you missed your train, or ran into some old buddies en route. Never mind the fact that my frazzled mother, by now insane, would attempt to throw me off a ledge after decontaminating my clothes. In more serious circumstances, police would never enforce a 24 hour missing persons rule because my father would wait 48 before even considering the call (and might delay further for inexpensive nighttime rates), remaining in a holding pattern of extreme normality; slugging down coffee like a caffeinated maniac, thumbing through the Times, and managing the eccentric underlings of his accounting department. By then, you might be chopped up in a suitcase, internal organs auctioned in the black market and transported to a third world hellhole for repurposing by unhygienic hacks. But then again, probably not. And life would go on. And so it did, comprised with other Y chromosomal nuggets like my anally intact organizational habits, excruciating attention to mundane detail, and faint OCD flare-ups (see "Christmas In January" from Jan 15).

Vividly I recall my father clad in a shit-brown robe flipping pancakes on Saturday mornings, singing along to the oldies on New York’s CBS-FM like it was his second job to destroy pitch and annoy neighborhood dogs. And there we were, our traditional nuclear family, passing the syrup while held captive in a radio reverb chamber double-timing as our kitchen, listening to dad mangle the words of the entire doo-wop canon. And though music was our shared passion, his forklift’s worth of showtune records warranted a masculinity citation of the highest caliber. But then again, he played that Judy Garland album loud and proud, windows flung open against a street full of pre-teens, because he had brassier balls than to which you could ever aspire. You didn’t like this dandy schlock polluting the air and ripping apart the ozone? Go home and play your own tapes, kid.

Sometime within the past eight years, my father got sick. He was a fighter, which bought him considerable time and confounded a revolving door of medical professionals, but all wearied victims consent eventually to their predator. At the end of a very trying week helping my mother plan funeral arrangements, shore up finances, and keep sanity amongst relatives, I broke down. He was gone. An emptiness had finally presented itself as the rest of the world was moving on and the realities of the situation were settling comfortably into focus. We never spoke deeply, he and I. His proud independent streak, mistaken as aloofness by certain types, was something I understood well and respected always, something hereditary which also burns in this writer’s own heart. That said, he approached fatherhood with brilliance. Never overbearing, compassionate when warranted, stern with matters of importance, and exceptionally lenient with the rest of life’s trivialities. The old man did things his way. He couldn’t give a rat’s ass what you thought.

But still, what kind of a person orders the Filet-o-Fish from McDonald’s? And then orders it again?


Blunt Delivery said...

Hey. just stopping by. .. like the blog.

but... can you please refrain from using the word "sausage"

maybe i'll come back.

MVD said...

I'm sorry, was that overly phallic for your tastes? Because if we're talking about the small curved ones in my frying pan, you should probably pull up those pants and put the lipstick away.

Great stuff on your blog, by the way. I suppose if I was a woman and completely out of my goddamned mind, this corner of cyberspace might read similarly to yours.

Stop by again! Door lock is busted.

Blunt delivery said...

well, i just take issue with that word. doesn't matter what way its used. in fact, i don't think i've said it since like 1997. it makes for a difficult time ordering pizza.

growingupartists said...

Sorry, but as much as you'd expect Arby's to make a decent Lent sandwich, grease is grease, and one must only consume on holidays.

MVD said...

I don't think you want Arby's to even consider the idea of placing sea monkeys between two slices of mayo-slathered bread, for Lent or otherwise. The Lord, I'm sure, would not be pleased if his flock were diverted from the Bacon Cheddar Roastburger to some atrocity of brine shrimp.

Blunt Delivery said...

you mean, filet o mystery fish?

Chrissy said...

How can you NOT be jonesin' for one of these after you hear that kicky tune sung by the fish mounted on the wall??

And just so it gets stuck in your head.."Gimme me that filet-o-fish....gimme that fish...."

MVD said...

Actually Chrissy, I've given your comment some thought. I'd rather eat the fish mounted on the wall (assuming I had a slice of heavily processed cheese to throw on top, and assuming the damned thing fit in my microwave).

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