Sunday, December 27, 2009

Something Fishy

When we were young, our grandfather came to visit every Saturday, or perhaps it was Sunday. He arrived with arms full of bags stuffed with smoked fish and bagels.

He brought lox, whitefish, smoked salmon, and my favorite at the time, smoked sable fish. I have no idea what fish that is actually called,unless it is sable, and I find it to be unbearably oily, but at the time, it was heaven.

He was a medium sized bald man, always in white dress shirt, and due to high arches, his shoes shined, were always untied in a very fastidious way. I can recall him laughing at some caper of my sister or myself, but mainly he appeared always to be calm silent and sober of mein.

Years later, I found out that he used to fish, go gambling and drinking with buddies, playing cards, and who knows what else, and having a lot of fun, but he never looked much like fun to me.

Because I was closer to my grandmother, he grew closer to my sister. Perhaps she feels differently than I about who he was.

He would come to our house and we would feast and then accompany him to the car wash where you could stay inside the car, watching the soap and water slosh against the windows. It was a perfect entertainment for small children, as it was cheap, we were contained in the vehicle, and it was of short duration ensuring that we were in as good a mood at the end as we were at the outset of the journey.

Today, eating an inferior smoked salmon, (which is not lox, but actual hunks of opaque salmon,) on a dehydrated unfrozen english muffin, I thought of my grandfather and his visits. I realize that I was never aware that those goods were expensive, not available in our suburb, and that he drove there from Philadelphia where he lived.

He never brought my grandmother with him. This was just a treat for his daughter (my mother) and his grandchildren, though my father also enjoyed the bounty of the delectable treats.

I was wondering where my grandmother thought he was. Surely, if she knew where he was, she would want to accompany him.

It's hard to find a good smoked fish these days.

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