Saturday, July 30, 2011

But I Asked for Chicken Livers

This morning I met several high school classmates at a local coffee shop to reconnect and visit.  Then I went to see Mam-ma Polly at the assisted living facility (ALF).  Mam-ma was already seated in the dining room for lunch, but she offered to return to her room with me for a few minutes so that I could unpack the things I had taken to her.  Once there, she asked me, "How was your party?"  I told her it was fine... not really a party... and I asked, "Who told you I was going to a party?"  She snidely replied, "Well, you told me that you were too busy to come down here this week because you were cookin' for a bunch of people."  I had  told her that I might cook dinner for some friends who were busy moving to a new office space this week.  But that did not materialize, and I answered... "I think what I actually said was that I was too busy this week to take you to Searcy yesterday to [your niece] Martha's retirement party... and I was.  But I had coffee this morning with some of my classmates from high school."  Mam-ma never asked if the coffee was nice, who was there...nothing... that was the end of it... and she sat in her chair and sulked.

 I tried to think of other things to talk with her about, but not much came to mind, and we soon agreed to return to the dining room, where the other three ladies at Mam-ma's table were assembled and waiting for lunch to be served.  One lady... my little friend "MawMac" said, "I'm having chicken livers.  The choices were chicken livers or baked fish, and I chose chicken livers!"  I nodded and told her that sounded nice.  Then I noticed the "a la carte" menu on the table, and two of the choices were indeed chicken livers and baked fish, along with hamburger steak and a few other things. Soon the plates were arriving, and Ms. Ruth got hers first... a delicious big plate of boneless chicken breast, scalloped potatoes, mixed vegetables, and two rolls.  She patted the aide's arm and said, "Sugar, if you have a plate with dark meat, I'd rather have dark meat than this chicken breast."  The aide sweetly told her that all of the plates contained a chicken breast... there was no dark meat.  Ms. Ruth shrugged and reluctantly said this was okay.

MawMac said, "Well, I'm having chicken livers."  As the other three plates were presented, they were all the same - chicken breast.  Ms. Evelyn began to protest loudly, "I ordered chicken livers!"  MawMac chimed in... "I'm supposed to have chicken livers!"  Mam-ma Polly added... "I ordered chicken livers, too!"  The aide looked bewildered.  She was new, and she seemed genuinely upset.  Soon Mam-ma's regular aide appeared at the table.  "This is what you ordered," she explained.  The three ladies protested.  Mam-ma said, "I told you I wanted chicken livers!"  The aide said, "No... I specifically asked you this morning if you wanted our lunch special, which was Ranch Chicken, and you said 'That will be fine.'"  Ms. Evelyn piped up and said, "Well, I ordered chicken livers last night!" 

My grandmother nodded toward another table of ladies and muttered, "Well, I bet they got chicken livers."  I told her I didn't think so, and she would not believe me... so I went over and checked... sure enough, every person in the dining room appeared to have the same meal... and it looked delicious.  I tried my best to encourage the ladies to eat what was served... and told them how moist and tender the chicken appeared to be.  While one lady loudly complained about not getting chicken livers, she was cutting up - and eating - her chicken breast!  Another was saying, "I wonder when they are going to tell someone in the kitchen that you cook chicken in flour, not batter!"  There was definitely "high drama" in the dining hall at the ALF today!

Clearly, none of the ladies understands that there is a "Daily Special" at lunch and dinner, and unless they specifically order from the "a la carte" menu - also called the "Sugarloaf CafĂ©," this is what they get!  I tried to explain, but I got nowhere in short order, so I stopped.  I suggested that tonight, they all ask for chicken livers tomorrow, and they could have them for lunch, and Mam-ma harrumphed and said, "Well... maybe!"  And Mam-ma has told me more than once about the ladies complaining at the table... "that's not what I ordered," and that she "just eats whatever they bring me."  Well, I'm here to report firsthand that all four of the ladies at this table were unhappy - and they were all quite vocal about it!  I'm sure that Mam-ma would have been even more vocal, had I not been sitting there.  I finally rose to leave, and Ms. Ruth said, "Do come back again soon... I'm sure we'll be mouthing about something!"

Honestly, if this is the biggest thing these ladies have to get upset over, we're talking pretty small potatoes.  The food at this facility is delicious.  I have eaten there more than once, and I could have gladly cleaned one of these plates today.  This was not one of my better visits with my grandmother, but I reminded myself as I left that 1) she was in great health and moving around well physically, 2) she was reasonably clear mentally, and from all appearances, everything else was going well there, and 3) I must remember to "live in her world" when I am there and then leave it at the ALF. 

The "three-ring chicken liver circus" I witnessed today could be viewed as sad and petty... but to me it was funny.  It gave these four ladies something to rev their motors over, and in the end, nobody went hungry.  The dessert cart contained big slices of white cake with chocolate icing... so if they didn't eat anything else, they had a tasty dessert.  And from what I witnessed, all four of them were eating the chicken they said they did not order.  Maybe it's time for us to give them the old "there are starving children in Africa" spiel they used to give us!  Somehow, I don't believe it would work any better in reverse!

Since I don't have many graphics to accompany this post, I thought I'd include a fun photo of Timothy.  The end of June, he moved to Texas with his mom and baby sister, and we are missing him madly!  Hopefully he will return for an extended visit soon... meanwhile, we're talking on the phone and I'm looking at lots and lots of pictures!

1 comment:

Mich Magness said...

What a nice recollection you've shared with us. I've had those same conversations and observations. I'm reminded that everyone of us wants to be validated, noticed, taken seriously and not getting your order right at a restaurant or the assisted living facility can just be the straw that broke the camel's back... Maybe one day I'll remember to tell you about a time I WENT OFF over a pasta dish at a stupid restaurant. My adult children still tell that story sometimes.