In describing my Dad, his favorite things, right there at the top sits: ordering raw oysters on the half shell and “sucking those babies down.”
I, like most of us, have a bit of a texture issue when it comes to what I eat. I am not a picky eater AT ALL, but there are a few foods in life I can’t quite get at because of the texture. Cottage cheese (ew, it’s bumpy and lumpy and seems like it’s what I’ve found at the bottom of my milk containers after vacation), tomatoes (Googlies in the middle! Googlies!! Gross!), if my egg is the slightest bit runny (massive gag) and raw oysters in the half shell.
Oysters reminded Dad of his time in the Navy. He would tell the stories of how they would go out and place a huge order and “suck those babies down” with such nostalgia and pride.
Anytime we would go out to eat at a nice restaurant, he would announce his intention to order them to the table. He would ask excitedly how many we would be putting away. When I was a kid that was a hard pass for me. HARD pass. That’s a zero from this side of the table. Kthanks.
So he did them alone. Or didn’t order any…
As I’ve gotten older and realized how much it meant to him to share these memories with me and relive some of his best times I started to “do one” with him.
For those who don’t know: according to Papa the correct way to shoot an oyster is to slather it in cocktail sauce and horseradish, tip your head back and let it “slide down your throat.” I would ask.. “so if I’m not really tasting anything but the sauce/horseradish…. What is it we are doing here?” He would just shake his head and laugh at me and we carried on like that was the most ridiculous question ever posed.
A couple of times I made the mistake of chewing the oyster. I’d make a face and he would be laughing and speaking so loud to me “swallow the damn thing! Jiminy Christmas!”
The look on his face watching me every time… with such excitement and anticipation… like this might be the time we both agree this is the best thing ever! If nothing else there was immense joy that someone was doing it with him in the first place.
This Papa lesson is intended to remind me the value of trying new things. Experience the unfamiliar. Jump into the unknown. I may not love the new thing, but might be making someone’s day by reaching a little. Going out of my comfort zone a bit. And hey!? Maybe I LOVE something new!? Something I would have never tried…
Life is so short and if we stay in our comfort zones for all of it… how boring is that? When do we grow? How do we get to know ourselves?
For Papa: I’ll just do one. Of something new.
I’m still not doing cottage cheese though. Fucking gross!!!