I never thought I'd say this, but lately I have been finding Manny something resembling...invaluable. Every single day, he comes downstairs quite early, before we are even awake, and cuts up a plateful of fresh fruit for the boys. Then he waits, ready to spring into action and fry up bacon and make gourmet omelettes filled with things like fresh asparagus and feta cheese and some delicious sausage that he sourced out at the Italian deli.
By the way, he washes his hands religiously and insists on separate serving utensils for each dish. If a kid reaches out a hand toward a serving dish, he flinches and groans.
|It's filled with Manny-ness!|
Later, he has dinner ready on the table by 6:00 p.m. Skirt steak tacos, fresh salmon with dill and lemon, garlic mashed potatoes, roasted beets in some sort of astoundingly good salad with delicious unknown ingredients and pepperoncini poking out of the top.
One day, he made the boys a pork roast. It was absolutely fine and tasty, but one of the boys decided it wasn’t for him.
Middle son said, “I don’t really like this.”
Manny, distraught, said, “You don’t? You really don’t? Why? What’s wrong with it?”
“I dunno,” middle son shrugged. “It’s kinda flavorless and chewy.”
Manny wandered off in a tither, all the way into town. I got repeated text messages such as:
Should I try more spice??
Think they would like quiche???
I had the boys make a list of foods they wanted to try and the very next day, he set out to start cooking the items on that list, one by one. That night we had BLTs, except he used fancy prosciutto. They were awesome.
Let’s face it…aren’t you starting to wish that you had a Manny right about now? If you want one, you have to accept the whole package.
He hums while he cooks, and mutters to himself. He talks and doesn’t listen. He makes crass and unfunny jokes—and an occasionally exceedingly funny one. And he brought in these somewhat…unusual bookends to prop up his cookbooks.
|We throw a cloth over these when people come to visit. Not that they are not, well, somewhat of conversation starters.|
He mixes up his words all the time.
“I put the leftovers in the other refrigerator,” he says, gesturing at the oven.
“How about I make some guacacado?” he asks another time. “Oh! I mean, something with those eggstables. Eggpants! Eggplant hummos.”
“You mean baba ganoush, right?”
(The baba ganoush was excellent.)
But he is kind. He got in the habit of pushing the boys on the new tree swing that our neighbor built, and pushing them much higher than I ever could, such that they would call out for him to “give me another push” and he would comply, despite sore shoulders and aching back.
So when he said he was going to move to Oaxaca, Mexico, at the end of June and live on a tequila farm, I had some mixed feelings.
|I can't wait to drink this!|
One, hurrah! Two, the Manny Diaries may have to come to an end. Crap. And three, what kind of bonehead would choose to live on a tequila farm when he oughta know the one poison he should never, ever have is booze?
In fact, he got so excited about his new life as a tequila farmer that, on Sunday, when he was purportedly out buying some food for dinner, he must have wandered into a local drinking establishment. He came bumbling in at 6 pm with no food and with a bottle of tequila, made in his future hometown! He presented it to us as a gift. He stank of booze and slurred and denied having a drink, so we sent him to his room.
We can’t really kick him out now, with so little time between now and his departure. He has rented a place in Mexico and even paid for plane tickets. He says he’ll stay sober until he leaves, even during his four-hour layover on the way to his new home. If he makes that connection it will be a miracle.
I can imagine getting a tearful, drunken phone call from the Oaxaca jailhouse (do they even allow phone calls?) saying that we gotta bail him out because he insulted some Mexican dude and then got into a pistol duel over the man’s underage daughter. I can just kinda imagine that. But I think that truth will be even stranger than my imagination can conjure at this moment.
Don't you? WHAT do you think our Manny will do next?