If you consider the food patterns of American culture, pizza is a “hot” commodity. According to a recent Gallup poll, pizza is preferred over all other food for lunch and dinner, in children ages 3-11. I know that was the case for our family growing up.
Pizza was not something we would eat frequently. Maybe that’s why I can still taste the pizza from Dino’s or Derango’s as I am writing these words. A distinct fennel flavor is slowing creeping into my memory bank. Yet, where there is pleasure, there is always the chance for pain to show up. With pizza this was certainly the case. Allow me to explain.
We were in the funeral business. In the funeral business you work days and nights. You have funerals, the logistics of getting ready for funerals (embalming, funeral preparations, pick-ups, dropping off obituaries at the local news room, etc.) and making arrangements with families during the day. At night you might meet with families and make arrangements, as well, if they can’t come in during the day. Also at night, you would have visitations (wakes/ showings).
Dad would frequently work both day and night. If he was working nights, this meant if he got to chance to come home at all, it would be for a quick bite to eat that you could call a “family meal.” A more accurate description would be, “family feeding.” Like throwing fish food into a tank of gold fish, when the food hit the table the frenzy would begin.
The Hanson’s were fast eaters. “Speed-eaters.” “Hash and dash.” Usually there were four boys and dad sitting around the table, and mom in the kitchen. She brings out whatever casserole or meat and potatoes combo we would share that evening, a quick prayer, and then, “Boom!” Eat away.
It is during these quick meals we were most likely to get pizza. As a treat, and as a break for our mom (I’m naturally assuming that is why my dad did it), dad would bring pizza home, hot and ready to be eaten. The four guppies would already be gathered around the table, plates ready, dad would set the pizza’s down and then, just like other meals, it was start eating as fast as you can.
Only this time, with pizza, there is a strategy. There are only a limited amount of pieces to go around. We never had leftovers. So, when dad would bring home pizza, we really had to be on our game. And yes, with the pleasure, comes pain.
You know what it is like to eat piping hot pizza? Where it seems like the whole roof of your mouth is burned and shredded? Well, there is only a limited food supply, so you eat through the pain! No matter, how much you blow on the cheese and sausage, there is going to be a reckoning.
Every last piece eaten, and dad is out the door. Can’t stop. Can’t talk. Gotta get back work. A burnt mouth becomes a throbbing metaphor of this part my family life. Just know, you are not going to see much of dad.
As my dad worked for his dad, it isn’t a shock that he was gone a lot. Long hours and keeping a tough schedule is just what sons do when they work for their fathers, right? Gotta earn those stripes working the family business. Yet, long hours in general just seemed to be the way things were for our generation of kids. As many of us who were raised in the “Baby Boomer” generation can attest, we didn’t spend lots of time with our dads.
Historically, you can see why sons spending time with their fathers declined. In almost all cultures, from the beginning of humanity until the beginning of the 20th century, most sons would follow their fathers in their livelihood. Interesting that surnames even indicated what your future is going to hold.
“Bill Carpenter.” “John Smith.” “Tom Undertaker?” Well, there are always exceptions!
So, this was the way of the world. Whether it was agriculture or a trade, most sons would apprentice with their fathers. This wasn’t only about life; it was about being a man. Imitation is as important a learning tool as information. Not just learning how to do work, but also learning how to do life.
This practice of sons spending years “apprenticing” with their fathers still continues in many cultures, yet in the world of the “Industrial Age” and following, the time spent by sons with their dads declines.
Interesting that we don’t hear much about this shift in the way life was lived when it comes to fathers and sons. Fathers are the primary model for life ( for good or bad) since the beginning of humanity, and then suddenly (at least in historical time), poof!
Where’s dad? He’s at work!
Did you spend much time with your dad growing up? If you did, what do you remember? If you didn’t what do you remember?
(Please note: I just learned of a remedy for a burnt roof of the mouth. Use sugar. Just pour a bit on the painful area and dissolve it in. It works!)