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    Dime 55

    November 27, 2008

    Found – in the parking lot outside of the Italian Deli

    My mother hates to cook.  She has a newly renovated kitchen – new cabinets, new appliances, granite counter tops, everything.  The entire kitchen was renovated from top to bottom just a few years ago.  But it’s really more for show than for anything since neither of my parents like to use it.  My Dad doesn’t cook and my Mom hates to cook.  Her method of cooking is opening cans and heating the contents.  If she has to actually make something from a recipe, she complains the entire time about how much she hates to cook while she’s slamming things around.

    My Grandmother used to make a big Thanksgiving dinner every year for the family.  After my Grandfather died about four years ago, my parents decided that it was too much for her, she was getting too old, she shouldn’t have to work so hard on that holiday, so they would host it at their house instead.  That first year, we made a turkey with all of the trimmings and everything came out fine.  Then the next year, my mother found out that she could have it catered.

    The Italian Deli in the neighborhood was catering Thanksgiving dinners.  For one price, you got a completely prepared Thanksgiving dinner that fed 18 to 20 people.   Of course, we only ever had about half that many people eating dinner but that didn’t matter to her.  It was the “convenience” of it that she liked.  All she had to do was select an appetizer, entree, choice of stuffing, choice of potatoes, choice of vegetable sides, choice of pie for dessert, and place the order over the phone and she was done.  So for the past three years, that’s what it’s been – Thanksgiving dinner catered from the Italian deli.

    It was about 1 pm when I arrived at my parents house.  My Dad had picked up the dinner earlier that morning and instead of following the heating instructions included with the meal (heat each tray for anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven before serving), my mother decided that she would just place all of the trays on hotplates hours ahead of time and that the food would just gradually warm up that way.  There were trays of food all along her kitchen counters, gradually warming, and gradually drying out.

    About a half hour before we were scheduled to eat, I showed her that the hotplates were not doing a good job heating up the food and most of it was still cold.  We were going to have to put it in the oven anyway.  I programmed the oven and then started to load it up with trays.  That’s when I realized we didn’t have any stuffing.  My Mom had ordered the roasted chestnut stuffing but it was nowhere to be found.  Telling her this, set off a near panic.  She worried about Thanksgiving without stuffing, the deli being closed already, and the deli being out of stuffing as she found their phone number.  She was relieved when they actually answered the phone and told her that they had a tray of stuffing that we could pick up.  My Mom asked me to go pick it up since my Dad was at the neighbor’s house next door.

    I got in my car, drove four blocks to the deli, pulled into the mostly empty parking lot, parked in front of the store next to the deli, got out of my car, and took one step before I found this blindingly bright dime shining on the tar black asphalt.  It couldn’t have been more in my face.

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