Friday, September 7, 2012
My father's technique bothered us all--especially my mother, who somehow found a dainty way to de-kernel an ear, a way that left no fragments on her front, no slivers stuck between her front teeth. I don't know how she did it, but, as I think of it, it was a little annoying, that habit of hers.
My father's technique was more, well, savage. He attacked the buttery ears, rotating the cob around and around, missing kernels, but not ceasing his assault until the cob was generally consumed but also looking as if somehow it had grown feathers during its suffering. You've seen the sight? Tufts of whatever sticking up in the air afterwards? That was my dad. Mom found that technique annoying enough (my brothers and I were more--what?--awestruck?), but two things made it even worse for her: (1) once he started snarling away at the cob, he did not stop until he'd finished it all ("all," I use loosely--see above); (2) he sounded the entire while as if he were some sort of rooting animal: loud bites, louder munching, loudest breathing (through his nose, of course), a sound exacerbated by any sort of nasal congestion (a summer cold, say?).
So ... you can see why Mom was not exactly euphoric when sweet corn season came around.
Of course, the proper way to eat an ear is my way: typewriter style, with sensible pauses to catch your breath, sip some fine white wine, perhaps read a sonnet or two (or write one).
One of the very first things I noticed about Joyce when I met her (after, of course, noticing her wonderful mind and her ... uh, you know) was that she ate sweet corn like no one I'd ever seen--and, honestly, have still not seen in anyone else. She eats the corn in random style. Not as if it were whirling on a lathe, not typewriter-style (which, as I said, is the proper way--my way). But random. I recall asking her about it at the time. I don't remember what she said; the look was sufficient. (It did not take her long to housebreak me.)
As I think I've written here before, I am a Creature of Habit. My daily routines, when I'm home and well, are generally unvarying. And when I'm driving up to Lenox, Mass., to see my mom (from Hudson it's about 560 miles), I go the same way (I-80, I-81, I-84, I-87, I-90 to Lee, Mass. exit). It's a lot cheaper than I-90 and a lot prettier, too--though slower.
Never varies. Well ... sometimes too much liquid consumed with have the expected effect, and I will zoom off at a convenient rest stop. But I suffer greatly before I allow myself to do that.
Joyce was initially very puzzled by this. Then, realizing she was in the presence of a mild form of madness, surrendered. A marital trade-off: no comments from me about ears of corn, none from her about Interstate Madness.
A good deal all round ...