“What flavor is that?” Holly asked.
“I know, it’s not my usual, but every so often I like banana.
Don’t you ever get tired of the same old strawberry?” Olga
“Nope. If we’re at Baskin-Robbins, their strawberry’s the
best,” Holly replied flatly. “Just a matter of fact.”
It was a lazy Saturday afternoon in early June. It had been
hot; actually, very hot. In west Texas one learns to estimate the
heat index on the number of minutes it takes for a body to begin
wilting once outside the confines of an air-conditioned refuge.
Today was a four-minute day, and it easily justified the two-scoop
ice cream cones that they both were now enjoying.
“Remember in second grade when the girls would argue over
whose dad was the strongest? Whose dad was most handsome, or
the smartest?” asked Olga.
“Those were fun days!” Holly laughed.
Father’s day was rapidly approaching, and the thoughts of
dads and granddads were in the hot June air.
As new members of the teenage odyssey, they would
occasionally look back, reminisce and laugh. Now that they were all
grown up this would still be done, but with a mature perspective
about it. The conversation took just this turn.
“I remember what a master of tomfoolery our Dad was when
we were little. He had us believing that okra wasn’t allowed in New
York. Television programs might show travelers being security-
screened at an airport. Dad said that they were checking for people
who might be trying to sneak okra onto a New York bound flight.
I was sure conned!” Olga said as she shook her head.
“What malarkey!” Holly exclaimed. “Dad told us that in Rhode
Island the ants were huge. When at a picnic, one could not leave
their sandwich unattended. Ants might suddenly appear and march
off with it!”
“Just malarkey,” Olga remarked as she licked her ice cream.
“The curly fries at restaurants. So ridiculous! Each time Dad
ate one he would quietly, but noticeably, giggle. He claimed they
tickled going down,” Holly laughed as she spoke. “Just insanity.”
“It was insanity!” quipped Olga as she kept up her rhythmic
licking. “I heard at school that chocolate milk came from brown
cows. After school, I asked Dad if it was true. With a straight face
he replied, ‘Why of course it’s true! Where else would we get
chocolate milk?’ When he took us to the zoo, I gave the brown
cows double treats.”
They were enjoying the ice cream as they compared
memories on this sultry Saturday afternoon.
“I have a juicy one for ya,” Olga perked. “One day when Dad
thought he was home alone, he calmly sauntered down the hallway
from the bathroom to the bedroom to get dressed. No towel, no
clothes, no nothing! Just as he reached the bedroom, he caught a
glimpse of me as I was leaving my bedroom.”
Olga displayed a provocative glimmer in her eyes.
“What did he say?” Holly asked anxiously.
“Oh, nothing then, but later that night he told Mom that an
angry bee had chased him out of the bathroom and down the
hallway after his shower. Mom told me to stop leaving the
bathroom window open for our cat, Snowflake, to just come and go
as she pleased. Yep… I guess Mom never heard all the details of it?”
They both laughed.
They didn’t laugh alone, though!
Dad was laughing as well, as he had memorized those
moments of the past. There was a long list of branded memories
etched into his brain. These stored memories would serve to
energize him over and over; may even be cause for him to just
laugh aloud when no apparent reason for his laugh had existed. He
had been taught a sense of humor early in his years, and he had felt
a responsibility to convey this gift to his daughters. He did this
well, but the tables had been starting to turn over time. His long
list would continue to grow while new, younger lists had become
manifest, and growing, as well…
“I remember the time that I embarrassed Dad at the fancy
oceanfront restaurant,” Holly said with pride. “Do you remember
‘The Rock Crab and Salt Air’ restaurant? Anyway, I told the waiter
that I wanted to pick out my shrimps from the fish tank, and then
inquired about what vegetables were being served, as well. In a
loud voice I explained that I wouldn’t eat the shrimps, as I wanted
to save their lives. I will always remember that Dad left a big tip for
the waiter. All I ate were the green beans.”
“Do you remember our fourth grade teacher, Sister Mary
Malachy?” Olga asked with a broad smile. Dad called her Sister
Mary Malarkey when I was in her class.
The following year I was in her class,” Holly laughed. Mom
told me about one parent-teacher meeting. Dad called her Sister
“No, Mr. Winston. I took the name of the first Irish saint and
not the mineral rock,” Sister said politely.
“He had kidded us so much that he couldn’t keep the actual
name straight!” Olga chuckled.
It was obvious that Holly’s list was growing at a healthy
pace. Mom’s smile was growing wider, as well.
Olga was done with her banana ice cream cone, as it had
disappeared totally. So be it, as it was now a three minute day.
“How about the time we tricked Dad in the apple orchard?
Remember?” Olga asked with glee. “We put two onions and two
apples in the pail and bet him that he couldn’t eat everything in the
pail. But, he did, and then had halitosis for three days! It was well
worth the bet, though. Well worth it!”
They laughed at the silliness of their fond memories. But
were they silly? No, as they helped to make them who they were.
“Payback is sweet,” Holly remarked. She spoke as if the devil
was in her. The devil was in her!
As it occurred, it had all been just malarkey. But it all had
gone through a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar that becomes a
butterfly. The accumulation of nonsense had become a treasure,
like an old photograph, being enjoyed on a cold, snowy evening, or
on a hot summer day in an ice cream parlor.
Before leaving Baskin-Robbins, Holly popped up with a
memory that had just been triggered.
“Remember the time when we both had bad coughs and Dad
was at his wit’s end trying to get us to take cough syrup? We both
absolutely refused. Do you remember?” Holly asked.
“Yep,” Olga asserted. “He told us that cough medicine tasted
great as a salad dressing. During dinner Dad poured it all over his
salad and ate it all with a smile on his face. Said it was delicious!
But we wouldn’t budge. No cough syrup for us, thank you! Sure I
They left Baskin-Robbins, and, at 106 degrees, wilting would
commence in three minutes. It was early June, right on target.
“I’m going to get Dad a six-pack of Coors Light,” Olga said.
“I’m going to get Dad a six-pack of Michelob,” Holly
Olga stopped and grabbed Holly’s arm.
“Hey, instead, let’s both together get Dad a six-pack of that
fancy German beer he likes?” Olga suggested.
They both smiled and continued on their way. Their lists
were growing as they were maturing.
“And how are we going to buy this for his Father’s day gift?”
Holly added. “We’re way underage.”
“Have a great idea,” Olga blurted with a sparkle in her eyes
and confidence in her plan. “No problem. We’ll just trick Dad. We’ll
get him to buy it for himself. I’ll call Aunt Kathy. Dad’s sister will be
happy to help us. I’m sure of it!” Olga said with confidence. “She
knows his style.”
“I applaud you both for your enthusiasm,” Aunt Kathy said
carefully. “Hat’s off to both of you.” This will be taking things to a
new level. I say go for it. What’s good for the goose is good for the
gander. I’ll tell your Dad that he has a gift to pick up at ‘Daddy’s
Spirits’ liquor store. He will think it is for me. I’ll let you know the
Dad entered the ‘Daddy’s’ store on the corner of Third and
“May I help you?” Zach asked.
“Yes, I have a package here waiting to be picked up. My name
is Winston. Mark Winston,” Dad explained.
“Let me go to the back and get it for you,” Zach said. He took
a bite of his donut before placing it down on the counter.
Mark turned to scan over the store.
Zach quickly reached over, grabbing the donut as he made
his way to retrieve the package.
Mark watched Zach as he returned to the counter with his
package. Obviously, a six-pack, but of what? He wouldn’t open the
bag unless Kathy invited him to do so. It might be that she wanted
it for a friend.
At the counter Zach became enraged and started to swear.
“They got it, darn it!” Zach screamed with irritation. It’s those
nasty Rhode Island ants again. They took my donut! Why didn’t you
“What?’ Mark said. “I didn’t see any ants take your donut.
Why, that is ridiculous!”, Mark replied in surprise.
“Well, it’s only you and me in here right now. Well then, YOU
ate my donut!” Zach accused.
“What?”, Mark said in disbelief.
“Make amends right now,” Zach demanded.
“O K, you’re right. It was the ants. I saw them. I would have
stopped them, but they were the big ones from Rhode Island,” Mark
said calmly as he stood is ground.
“You owe me $12.75,” Zach pitched, breathing hard.
“For what?”, Mark asked.
“For your package!” Zach said assertively.
“Here,” Mark said as he pushed 13 bucks to Zach. “Keep the
change to buy yourself another donut.”
Mark circumvented the wooden trap at the exit. A small sign
hung and said ‘CAREFUL, ANT TRAP’.
“That place is insane!” Mark said out loud to no one.
Zach didn’t hear his remark. He was still laughing.
It was no longer Dad’s list that was growing at a healthy pace.
The tables had been turned!
“Remind me to call and thank Zach,” Holly requested of Olga.
They both had excelled at the school of tomfoolery.
“It’s damn hot.” Olga proclaimed. “Let’s go home, get cool, and
ask Dad if he’ll make us some of that refreshing iced chamomile
tea. He’s been pushing it for weeks now. He says it stops warts
from growing on your fingers!”
Holly smirked as she came back with, “Maybe in New York it
does, but not in Texas!”
And to this day, Dad still smiles, sometimes laughs, each time
he sees a brown cow.