Driving west on the 401 to London, Ont., to see my mom on Saturday morning:
Beast: That’s a nice Lincoln you just passed. You know, if I drove a Lincoln I wouldn’t stop doing Matthew McConaughey impressions the whole time.
Foodie: It’s probably for the best that we drive a VW.
Beast: Whoa! Did you see that?
Foodie: What? Where?
Beast: There was a raven chasing a red-winged black bird and a hawk was circling above them both!
Foodie: Did anyone die?
Beast: No, but I think we can agree Nature is really showing its ass today!
Beast: You know, I would gladly trade my penis to have Aaron Neville’s singing voice.
Foodie: What are you looking at?
Beast: I have about 50 saved notes on my phone. A lot of them are first lines for short stories, or just ideas for plots. There’s one about how much I love Finding Forrester. But this one, dated Aug. 11, 2014, is just really odd.
Foodie: What does it say?
Beast: If you could be either really beautiful or really smart–like, you’d have to choose one or the other and you couldn’t have both like Amal Clooney–which would you choose?
Foodie: Brains, for sure. You?
Beast: I’d choose looks.
Beast: Because being beautiful would be so fucking cool.
Beast: If you could be a bear or a wolf, what would you be?
Foodie: A bear.
Beast: Me too. If you had to choose between being poor white trash or middle-class African American, what would you choose?
Foodie: This is getting weird.
Beast: Would you rather be C3PO or R2D2?
Foodie: [Pause]: R2D2.
Beast: I am shocked it took you that long to answer. Would you rather be a Muslim couple and you wear a head scarf or a Sikh couple where I wear the beautiful turban?
Beast: Would you rather be somebody who was once a great dancer and was injured and can never dance again or just an average dancer?
Foodie: Um, I guess the great dancer.
Beast: Yes! Because at least you’d always have the fucking memories!
Every time we visit my mom, who does not drive, we do a Costco run, which is great fun. There were so many provisions to get this time (laundry detergent, dish soap, cheddar cheese, parmigiano reggiano, hummus, hot dogs, toilet paper, tissue paper, paper towels, two magazines, a book, frozen shrimp and mahi-mahi fillets–and that was just our stuff) that we rolled through the aisles with not one, but two carts. Simon loaded the car to the brim and next we headed to a market for produce, the bank, and then the Super Store for stuff we didn’t even know we needed.
We were home by 6:30 p.m. My mom ordered Chinese food while the Beast and I stocked her wares in closets and the fridge. I finished and folded the laundry, which I still bring home, despite being 40. Oh god I’m 41.
We picked a movie to watch–Daddy’s Home, starring Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg–with our dinner. After the movie my mom confessed that sometimes she misses my dad–they’ve been divorced for over 20 years now and have not seen each other since–especially when we watch movies. We watched so many as a family. “We had some good times on Manor Road, didn’t we,” she said.
“Yes, we did,” I said, not entirely sure whether her comment was a question or a statement. But I believed it to be true.
While the Beast brushed his teeth before bed, I looked at photos on the coffee table downstairs in the family room. My mom had brought out boxes and boxes of them when her brother had come by for a visit. I’m glad she hadn’t put them away yet. There I was playing in the cornfield. There were my parents standing in my Aunt Sandy’s kitchen, before my brother and I were born. There was my brother in an action pose, holding a light sabre. There he was with a real leather whip, just like Indiana Jones. There I was with a kids’ bow and arrow set, wearing a feathered headdress. There was me and my brother napping under Return of the Jedi blankets, my skin so tanned from playing outside. He still had his freckles. I had on chipped pink nail polish, which I never remember wearing.
Driving east on the 401 to Toronto, Ont. early Sunday morning:
Foodie: I love the music you’ve been playing–
Beast: What specifically? The Aaron Neville? Dr. John? Allen Toussaint? Master P? Ludacris? DMX? Young Thug?
Foodie: Oh all of it, really. But do you think you could play something a little quieter? Maybe some classical music?
Beast: The princess asked and the princess shall receive.
Foodie: This is not classical music playing.
Beast: Well, that’s your white privilege speaking: you never said western classic music. This is northern Indian classical music.
Foodie: It’s beautiful.
The sun was shining but it was still early enough not to be too hot. We drove with the windows down, and the music playing loudly. We passed a pick-up truck with “Half Breed” decalled in bright colours along the side. We passed a hatchback with the fish-shaped Jesus decal on the back and, just past Belmont, a sports car with the fish-with-feet evolution decal on it. Many cars were choosing the far-right lane to pass cars in the middle lane, despite the far-left lane being wide open. The field filled with bright yellow flowers that I’d seen my last trip home was now all green.
I wished that there was time to visit with my dad in Port Stanley, but the Beast had to be at work for 10:00 a.m. Besides, it’s rare that I see both my parents on the same trip home. There is never enough time. Also, I’m not sure I should. Once we managed it and the Beast said it was like I changed into a different person. Like a switch was flipped for each of them. I saw a personalized licence plate and I thought if I had one it would be PLAYK8, as in placate.
I thought about the text I’ll send to my dad later on today. Maybe I’ll post a photo of us on Instagram. There are some real gems. I thought about whether or not the four of us, my mom, my dad, my brother, and me, will ever share a meal together again. Maybe we could watch a movie–maybe one of the ones we used to never tire of. On Golden Pond? One of the Godfathers? I thought about how, when I got home, I would look for a photo of us four. I’m sure it exists. It’s not exactly a family portrait. We were all sitting on the couch and we took a photo of our hands. We stretched them out, palms up, and held them side by side. I think the idea was we could look at the photo years later and see how they’ve changed, how they’ve aged, how they look the same.
I can see them now.