May 10, 2010
This Inviting Writing thing is off to a great start, isn’t it? We’ve arrived at the final installment of readers’ stories tied to the theme of “food and manners.” This one comes to us from Debra Kelly.
We’ll give you a new theme next week, so if your story didn’t get picked this time, we hope you’ll try again!
The World’s Best Liver Sandwich
By Debra Kelly
Back in the days of yore, I had a boyfriend. We lived in a small yet bustling Midwestern town. In yore, you eventually got around to bringing home the boyfiend—oops, boyfriend!—for Dad’s inspection. And dads have a way of sizing up young men. There could be a series of tests involved before a true picture could be formed in dad’s mind.
One of the first tests was regarding food and manners—but it had nothing to do with how you folded your napkin or held your fork. It revolved around a simple tenet: When your host cooked a meal for you, you liked it and you said so.
My dad loved to cook and took great pride in every concoction he produced. He was in the kitchen when my boyfriend and I arrived home one day, and he called out, “Are you hungry?” We answered in the affirmative and were asked to be seated.
I was delighted my boyfriend would have this time to bond with my father. Then I noticed my boyfriend tense, ever so slightly, and shift in his chair.
Dad had walked into the room with steaming plates in hand: Grilled liver and onions for each of us. This really wasn’t an unusual sandwich at our house. We enjoyed them occasionally.
“Uh oh,” I thought, suddenly remembering that my boyfriend hated liver.
Carefully, he said, “Ah, I don’t really eat liver sandwiches,” with an innocent smile and tentative tone that seemed to suggest a lack of knowledge rather than a complaint.
My father, not big on nuance, cheerfully responded: “You haven’t tasted MY liver sandwich!”
I thought about intervening, then decided to let my boyfriend handle it himself. I began eating, and scanned his face for clues as he did the same. Not once did he display a hint of dissatisfaction or disgust to his host. He didn’t flinch or even twitch. I was impressed.
When we were finished and it was time to go, my boyfriend rose from the table and said to my dad: “You really do make the world’s greatest liver sandwich, Mr. Dowling, thank you!”
I married him. It’s been 35 years and he hasn’t eaten a liver sandwich since.
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