My parents are in town. My wife invited them over for dinner. She said it would be good for me.
I was able to eat two sourdough rolls and drink one-and-a-half glasses of sweet tea before people started yelling. My father asked what we were having for dinner. My wife said Caribbean chicken salad with roasted pine nuts.
"What's the main course,” he said.
My wife smiled, then saw that he wasn't joking.
"I just told you. Caribbean chicken salad with roasted pine nuts."
She probably thought my father was in the first stages of senile dementia. She was talking loud and slow like she does whenever she calls customer service and someone from India answers.
"A salad is not a goddamn meal and our ancestors didn't get mauled by sabertooth tigers and pterodactyls for this shit," my father said.
"Warren, don't say that. You know we don't believe in dinosaurs," my mother said.
"Theresa get me the phone book. I'll get us some chicken wings and pizza."
My wife was eating her salad. I was pretending to listen to a voicemail on my cell phone.
"I'll get the phone book," I said.
I drove to the grocery store and walked around each aisle. Sometimes I would stick out my arms and walk toward someone like I wanted to hug them. One man kept glancing out of the corner of his eye and shuffling away from me. I pretended like I was going away from him toward the oatmeal and got him from behind. Before I could finish wrapping my arms around his chest he turned around and said "here." He handed me a box of cereal. There were marshmallows in it. I thought that was nice of him.
I walked out of the store with the cereal. I made sure to eat the entire box before I got home. My parents had left. I crawled in bed next to my wife. I wanted to comfort her, to tell her not to worry about my parents. But I knew she would say they were never here.