On Monday morning we woke up prepared to put our father to sleep. Put him down. Put him out of his misery. Pull the plug. Remove the machine. Let him die. Kill him.
In Spanish they say something like “sacrificar”, which suggested we would be tossing him into a lake of bubbling lava in the middle of a volcano, but the process, I was told, was much less dramatic, as far as patricide was concerned. I don’t know.
We use these words for animals, but reword them for our loved ones, our beloved ones, out of respect for them and peace of mind for us. The most sonorous is “let nature takes its course”, as if we were sending him off in a canoe softly down a gentle stream lined with birch trees. In a sense, there was something frightfully truthful about it, and acridly accurate, but it still sounded like a crock to me at the end of the day. There was no beating around the bush; we were going to do him in.
But first I needed a coffee. I had already downed a couple of cups before eight, but by nine was looking for something more substantial, so taking advantage of the need to stock up on groceries, drove down to Stop N Shop in our car with the wobbly steering wheel. Inside there was a Dunkin’ Donuts. There’s one almost everywhere now. At least in my part of the country. Starbuck’s too, but it seems to me that they’ve become rather passé. It’s much more reverse hipster to stick to the everyday chain. I always forget how to order at these places, which is frustrating because I want to feel like I’ve been a part of the land for ever, forever. Then I order a regular coffee with milk (forget that UK “white coffee” stuff – it’s liable to land me in jail for sounding racist), and the woman kindly my drink, but not before adding sugar by the shovelful.
“Sorry,” I intervened. “I didn’t want any sugar.”
“But you asked for regular. That means with sugar.” I thought “regular” meant caffeinated. Who would have guessed that assumed it included the amount of sweetening needed to bake a cake. I might as well have asked for a cup if diabetes.
I was tempted to ask, “since when?” but that would have meant running the risk of her replying “Since 1973.” And then I really would have sounded like a jackass. She was nice enough to replace it and slide the new cup over adding it was a hot coffee with cream, not milk.
With that in hand, I was more than equipped to assist my sister in the shopping to keep us from running out of some of the basics. It’s always such a shock to go around the supermarket in America and try and understand how it is possible for things to cost much. It’s no wonder people eat out so often. It’s more economical. Nowhere is this more evident than at the greengrocer section where fruit and vegetables go for ungodly sums. You might see something like peaches, a typically summer special, for $2,99…a pound. Multiply that by 2.2 and you get $6.60 per kilo. In Spain, it might cost as low as $2.00.
Just about the only thing that seems reasonable to me is lobster. You can get it for half the price than in Spain. The downside is you have to dump the critter in the water yourself. When it’s still alive. Woody Allen immortalized this process in Annie Hall, and we all got a good laugh out of it, though the scene has aged somewhat since the mid-70s. He and Dian Keaton screamed and squirmed and squawked their way around the kitchen as the frightened New Yorker struggled to find the guts to put the animals out of their misery.
I remember the first time I did it. I was a little squeamish myself. I was expecting them to squeal out loud, because someone had told me that that was what lobsters did when you boiled them alive. It kind of made sense, but never happened. I just plopped the in and put the lid on top. It was disturbingly easy. I don’t know.