chocolate is a verb

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Tag Archives: Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant

four dozen oysters

D and family at Earl Carroll

This photograph dates from the year my mother met and married my father, but he’s not in it, and whether that meeting — their blind date — had happened yet I don’t know. We see my mother, at the far end of the left side of the table, with her family — her mother, brother, uncle, aunt, cousin, sister-in-law and her mother’s second husband — at Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant in Hollywood.

My parents didn’t discuss the intersection of their premarital lifestyles, but there must have been an adjustment for both of them. My mother was used to privilege — fur coats and Oysters Rockefeller — while my father, a hardworking civil engineer newly returned from war, hailed from people of very modest means who were more concerned with family than with fashion.

In fact, my parents were opposites in many ways. Where my mother was emotional, my father was cerebral. He was quiet, she voluble. She was delicate; he was a rock. She said whatever came into her head; he rarely spoke an unconsidered word. He was serious, she was a party girl. He was loved, she felt unloved. My mother, who outlived my father, had a litany of physical complaints; my father had little use for illness and was hardly ever sick until the very end of his life. His family was deeply religious; her family saw religion as a social group. She loved dressing up, he didn’t. He loved children, she didn’t.

The extremes of their oppositeness contributed to their initial attraction and, over the years, tempered somewhat. My mother missed her fancy-dress life, but she eventually admitted that she would never turn my father into a man who would truly care about the cut of an elegant suit. My father uncomplainingly indulged my mother in her own taste for beautiful things, but drew the line when it came to man-jewelry.

And yet, after decades of marriage, it was their oppositeness that wore them down and, although they stayed together, pulled them away from one another. My mother wished for someone with emotions as hungry and uncensored as her own; my father would have appreciated some restraint.

In myself, I find them both — the needy and the withholding, the flamboyant and the modest, the satisfied and the discontent — looking for the words and the voice that will give expression to a single integrated identity.