Some couples take vacations. Some have children. My parents opened up a restaurant. Well, I don’t know if that was what they thought would be THEEE THING to save their failing marriage but, in any case, here were these two people who seemingly hated each other, working together every day and going home every night, and now they had something else to fight about.
And fight they did…much to the delight of the many patrons who would line up around the block for our meh manicotti and processed penne. But it wasn’t the food they were coming for, it was the entertainment. And they got their money’s worth. Every night.
I can’t tell you how many times I’d come out of the kitchen, my parents’ hurled obscenities echoing through the dining room. I’d see the dirty looks diners gave each other if clanging silverware disturbed the hush, lest they miss a muffled word and go home without getting the juicy details of the altercation du jour. Other patrons tried to look nonchalant as they crept away from the wall, discreetly putting down the water glass they were holding up to their ear. Then, my parents would emerge, as if on cue, my mother’s tear stained face, my father with mashed potatoes in his hair.
Of course there was no respite to be had at school. Few made any effort to conceal the ever present vicious gossip. My parents’ diner was soon dubbed THEE place to go if you were going to break up with someone. It was said that seeing what a relationship could become made the dumpee feel relieved. One of our dishes was even lovingly nicknamed the It’s Not You It’s Me-atloaf.
Other kids said that my parents’ fighting made their moms and dads feel better about their own imperfect relationships. Chicken blessed. Still others said that the fighting sparked lively debates in their homes about who was right and who was wrong. Devil’s Food Advo-cake.
Well, finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I went home and I told my mother and father how much their fighting was bothering me; how it was ruining my life; how I just couldn’t take it any more. The next day they went out and found a marriage counselor.
Mrs. Stuart taught my parents how to get along better. She taught them yoga poses that would help open up the channels of communication between them. She taught them how to express their feelings in a loving, tactful manner.
My parent’s marriage improved over the next few months but it wasn’t strong enough to survive the closing of the restaurant. Six weeks after the doors locked for the last time, the divorce was finalized. I don’t think they ever completely forgave me either.