Being cheap was a virtue to my father. In honor of his anniversary of cheating the tax man, I would like to reminisce for a moment.
Fall is here. The farmer’s market is overflowing with knobby, thick-skinned vegetables. The pumpkins are a little lopsided and I am drawn to long, creamy-skinned butternut squash.* When I pass mounds of earthy cabbage, I am haunted by my father.
I have a distinct memory from childhood of my father, out in the front yard, kneeling in the grass and chopping cabbage with the savage ferocity of a Mongol Horde bent on conquest. Why does this memory stick, you may wonder? He would buy cabbage in bulk, you see. A head of cabbage probably cost something like 60 cents back in the day—but if you bought a bushel, you’d get ‘em for a steal.
If you buy even a half-bushel, like my father did, that’s still a lot of cabbage. That means a lot of coleslaw or–gag–sauerkraut.** Nearly every weekend, my father was outside wearing plaid shorts, a white undershirt, black socks and work boots that he left unlaced, crouched over a butcher’s block cutting board committing cruciferous homicide. He would do this for a good hour or more. He did this with sufficient repetitive monotony that it has become one long reel of boring dad-moments, with only a minor variation on a theme if the bushel contained an elusive red cabbage–which made for an extra-bloody looking pile when he got done.
We have no pictures of my father hunkered in all his glory, but it is burned forever in vivid Kodachrome on the part of my brain where random, goofy memories are stored.
So now, whenever I visit the farmer’s market to check out the goods, I linger for a moment before the veiny, green-white disembodied heads…and remember.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*And before you go all phallic on me, I like to chop them into cubes and broil them until they cry for mercy. Try to make a sexual innuendo outta that!
**I survived several winters’ discontent of consuming sloppy, homemade sauerkraut by vomiting dramatically whenever forced to eat it.