« The Tree Hugger | Main | Food in China »

Friday, 13 January 2012

The Magic of Chicken Fricassee

By Marvin Waldman

If your wife, Irma, the only one who knew you weren’t such a nothing, has been dead for 17 years and your daughter calls you from god-knows-where only a couple of times a year, and then only out of obligation and if your friends, the few you had, are either dead and/or living in Boca Raton, and if the shoe store you took over from your father has long been turned into a Starbucks, then it’s a bet you no longer bother to match your socks.

If you should happen to look down and see that the right one is black and the left one is brown (yesterday the left one was white), you don’t feel the slightest compunction to correct the disparity. And if someone should notice that there is a mismatch going on in your shoes and tells you so, that’ll be just fine with you.

The likelihood of that happening, of course, is next to none being that you rarely leave the apartment you’ve rented, not to mention the fact that nobody is very interested in you, much less your socks. So you mainly stay at home wearing any socks you damn well please.

But every once in a while, once a year or so, you climb down the three flights from your apartment to the street, you walk seven blocks to the subway and take it downtown to where the store once was, where there once was a storeroom where you first made love to Irma - on a shipment of boxes filled with suede pumps.

When you make this annual trip to the honeymoon suite turned Starbucks, you stand there watching the people walk out carrying their lattes. And then you walk a few blocks to the delicatessen that is still there after all these years and you eat something good for a change.

It’s this year’s outing and here you are sitting in the delicatessen at a table near the bathroom where they put people who don’t complain about sitting at a table near the bathroom.

The waitress comes over. She is young and pretty and she has a big, round behind, the kind that would soften the hardness of boxes. She asks you what you’d like. You’re not sure.

“You had the chicken fricassee the last time you were here,” she says.

“You remember?” you say. “You remember?” You become aware of the fact that you said, “You remember?” two times in a row so you stop yourself from saying it a third time.

“Absolutely,” she says, “you were sitting right here and you had the chicken fricassee, the appetizer portion.”

You stare at her for what seems like 17 years and then, like an idiot, your eyes start to moisten and your throat tightens but you manage to blurt out, “I’ll have the chicken fricassee, the appetizer portion.”

“Good choice,” she says with a wink and heads for the kitchen.

After she vanishes behind the door you look down at your socks. You decide that after lunch you will go home and change.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. PLEASE read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


What a lovely, touching piece.

I've read and enjoyed all of your stories,Marvin,and wonder if it's time for you to give Arlene Applebaum a call.

Suppose she's not bothering to match her socks anymore either and suppose further that she loves Chicken Fricassee,too.

Worth a call!

Could you get a place on the ground floor? It wouldn't be the going down I would mind, it would be the thought of the struggle of climbing back up.:) Loved your story.
Michigan Grandma

Perfectly precious piece, Marvin. THANKS

Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one who gets these feelings sometime.

Loved this story, Marvin. I don't know who Arlene Applebaum is, but I agree that she would be a lucky woman if you called her. Make her day! And maybe yours while you are at it. She might not be Irma, but I'll bet she's worth a pair of matching socks.

What a GREAT story! You are an inspiration.

Loved your endearing character and story.

Just read your archives--they are all great pieces, but what's with the once-a-year posting? MORE, MORE!

That chicken fricassee story warmed my heart!!

I agree with Nancy, it's time to call Arlene!!

Just saw an award winning Argentinean film "Elsa and Fred."

It's about a widower who is inspired to change his socks!!

Wow. Just wow.

What a touching, heartwarming story. Thanks!

Iam glad someone else likes
Chicken and remembers like you have

I loved it; the poignancy and humor of it all.

Such a beautiful, wistful story. I loved it. Just this past week I have caught myself wearing one black and one blue sock to work, trying to convince myself no one would notice. I'm cringing.

Outstanding, Marvin... clearly, you listened well to your grandparents' stories. One would almost think you knew what elderhood felt like, just a smidge. And, oh, that Smidge. Thanks, made my day!

The comments to this entry are closed.