Well Placed Sausage

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Daily Prompt: A misused word, a misremembered song lyric, a cream pie that just happened to be there: tell us about a time you (or someone else) said or did something unintentionally funny.

My mother-in-law is 100% Italian, born in Queens, New York to parents that emigrated here in the 1930’s. She is an amazing cook, it’s genetically required. Her pasta is divine and she makes a mean braciole, which is basically meat wrapped in meat, cooked in meat juice. But perhaps her best dish is a big old steaming pot of drama.

She cultivates tension like a fine wine and deflects blame like Teflon.

On occasion we would go for Sunday dinner. The house would be pretty full, the volume and tension intensifying as meal time  approached. While there was only one cook, somehow others would get blamed for setting the oven too high or forgetting to turn a burner off. Thereby ruining dinner and lowering our expectations.

She’d sigh heavily and dramatically, laying the food out on the table with defeat. It was ruined. After everything was in place she’d sit across the long dining table from her husband, with at least six of us in audience, and place her head in her hands.

“Just eat. It’s ruined. Your father set the oven too high. I’m sure it’s dry. I can’t eat. I’m too upset.”

This statement was an invitation to dig in and then comment, “No ma, it’s delicious.” Which it always was.

After dinner, the games came out. They loved cards, but tonight we decided on a board game. I think it was Taboo.

We set ourselves up in teams for the game. We all played, although every rule was questioned and most weren’t followed making scoring dicey.

At one point my father-in-law was holding the card with the forbidden words. As various family members shouted answers he’d buzz them or say no. And then there was a gap. For a brief second all was quiet. Suddenly he looked up, and in all earnestness said, “Did someone say sausage?”

The entire table cracked up with laughter. Where did that come from? As I looked around the table everyone had the same light in their eyes. Joy. There was no tension, no drama, just joy. It’s not that funny from the outside but just those four words obliterated the tension, creating breathing space, allowing us all to be in the same moment together.

“Who wants dessert? I bought a pie at the grocery store, and I’ve got that ice cream your father loves. Or there’s fruit.”

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