I always notice a man's hands. They tell of his chosen career and also what occupies his hours after. Are there oil and grease trailings outlining the nails? Grass-green stains? Are they a rough display of the care he takes with those he loves?
I promise, I won't get too Freudian, but writing makes one work through things in one's mind. Often, things unstated, consciously unthought, but still effortlessly there. The earliest memory of my Dad, are his hands. His younger face now recalled only through yellow aged photographs held within disarrayed album pages in my parents basement; but, his hands are vivid. Every time I see them, even after years, they are the same. Aged, perhaps, but they are still the Papa Hands I remember. The hands that are crevassed with character, telling of hard work done.
The most severe of these lines come from my family's life on a farm. And, this bucolic existence was spawned, partly, of my own wishes; a joint conspiracy between my mother, sister, and I. My childhood craving for horses, required much work, too much work, of one who did not think their road-apples smelled like heaven and swooned when walking into a stable. Papa's hands dug holes for fence posts, sledge-hammered concrete barn floors because they "hurt the horses' hooves", planted and tended a football field sized garden, tenderly enticed beds of hostas to hover beneath our row of mighty pines (one of which fell during a summer thunderstorm, cracking our banana-yellow canoe in half -- the hostas were fine), and pounded hundreds of t-posts into the ground. This last activity lingers still, tingling and numbing reminders through his arms.
His hands have typed me thousands of wisdomed words which have gotten me through the past few years. Words of understanding...words of mutal melancholy...
Back to Freud.
I have recently noticed that I always look at a man's hands; it's their first impression on me. Thus, I wonder, is this because of my love and child-like admiration of my father's hands? After all, little girls learn what to expect from men and what to look for and look out for, from their fathers, do they not? I'm not a John Mayer fan, but one of his songs has lyrics I've always thought spoke truth: "Fathers be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do." I have indeed learned truth from my father's hands...from their faithful furrows and silent deeds.
It really is an unfair measurement, this hand-fettish, and I sometimes feel guilty for my imposition of this standard upon these unsuspecting males. One can't help what hands one has been given. But I always notice. Some women notice backs, or shoulders, or eyes or smiles. I notice hands. Some hands are fleshy and soft -- unused. Some show proof of pampering and lotioning at levels I do not find acceptable in the fairer sex, let alone the, hmm, what would they be? Darker? That does not matter. I am easily distracted.
Some, however, speak of work and dirt and grace; of trials through darkness, lonely paths, and things reasoned and accomplished. Beliefs hold fast in the lines, and these are lines that can can be trusted, they will hold. These, are lines of learning love and knowing how to...
There is one food that reminds me of my dad, beside Pepsi, but that being a drink, of course, and that food is burgers. He is a master of burger anatomy and construction.
His hands fashion peculiar patties comprised of ingredients most would prefer not to know: orange popcorn salt; Pepsi; Cheerios; Grape Nuts; soy sauce; Worcestershire, cayenne. It was not just beef that was what's for dinner. Often, he wouldn't tell his Secret Mixture. My father's great triumph was once, a particularly picky eater of a cousin, gobbled up the burger set before him without his usual interrogating "what's in this?" Only after the fact did he ask, and was then surprised at himself at what he was then digesting. I remember my father relaying this story with unabashed gleeful gloating and joyful triumph. Victory was his.
I would like to have made a burger today, but right now, that protein would just sit in my stomach, lump-like, as an aggravating reminder that I cannot digest the normalities of existence.
Watermelon though. Simple watermelon always sets well.
Last time my parents visited, my dad arrived toting two very large melons. Watermelons always remind me of him and I'm not sure whether it is that he actually likes them, or just puts up with them because of my mom and I's affinity for their consuption. And, not just a slice; we insist that the entire melon is split four ways and eaten at once, together. "It will just take up too much fridge space," is our excuse, "we must eat it now" is what we say. Utterances of urgent action which needs taken!
So we did, we consumed this duet of melons as a quartet, in two sittings. My father observed that we each ate our quarter differently. I spooned out balls of flesh, leaving the structural integrity likened to that of Swiss cheese. My mother used somewhat the same holey destructional method. My sister forked out large hunks of the red meat and my father also began at the top, whittling away with fork-marks.
Perhaps, watermelons remind me of my dad becuase of the one Halloween he carved one up, pumpkin style. It glowed a red beamed grin into the overwhelmingly orange themed night.
A few years ago, I came across a story about Watermelon's revelatory new use. Viagra-like effects...from watermelon!? How strange and intriguing and factoidal is that? I repeat this story ad nauseum whenever I partake of watermelon in the presence of others; much as for the viewing the obvious tell of embarrasment -- faces flush to match the fruit's blushed flesh.
But really, the watermelon's nutritional content is overwhelming, holding amazing amounts of lycopene, vitamin C and vitamin A. Often though, the poor fruit gets labeled as "just water."
Without my accompanying quartet, I bought a personal sized melon, lest I eat a full-sized to "save room in the fridge."
Tonight, I eat through a solo, slowly and thoughtfully spooning out melon balls in silence...