Wednesday, May 14, 2014

In a Pickle

Whenever I eat sandwiches, I think of my dad and my grandmother. Maybe it's weird, but whatever. I think of them because I put pickles on my sandwiches. I know, I can hear the curiosity in your thoughts. I'm a little different because I eat sweet gherkins sliced longways, not dill or bread and butter pickles sliced crosswise. Weird, right? When I was a kid, I didn't even want the meat, I just wanted Miracle Whip and sweet pickles
on white bread. Gross, I know, but I thought it was awesome. My parents wouldn't let me eat it, but I did manage to sneak a couple sandwiches like that before deciding maybe it wasn't quite as awesome as I thought it was.

That's all beside the point. The reason I think of Dad and Grandmother is because of the pickles, in case you hadn't figured that out from the title. Dad and I liked our sweet gherkins on sandwiches and burgers but I don't like relish on anything and will only eat dill spears as a separate entity, not on sandwiches. I don't remember his thoughts on savory pickles but maybe they were the same? When we had burgers or sandwiches as a dinner, which we did on occasion, Dad would slice the pickles for me. He was so precise, the pickles a perfect, even thickness. I never could get it right, even into my college and beyond years, so I'd ask him to do it for me, later pretending I was busy getting food on the table or something or just outright saying "You do it better."

Grandmother always had sweet gherkins in her fridge. Maybe from knowing Dad liked them, maybe from some 50's entertaining manual, who knows, but she had them. And hers were already sliced. We had sandwiches or burgers or something at her house a couple times and every time that jar of perfectly sliced gherkins came out, I wondered why Mom didn't buy that for us. Surely it couldn't be THAT much more expensive.

When I was older, not sure if it was high school or college, I started looking for sliced gherkins in the store and couldn't find them. I figured I was just at the wrong store because I knew they sold them, my grandmother always had a jar. I commented on it to Mom once and she looked at me like I was crazy. "They don't sell pre-sliced gherkins, she slices them after she buys them."

Now I thought she was crazy. No human could slice pickles with such machine precision. Grandmother probably just knew about a secret shelf at a store with the sliced gherkins. Then I watched my dad slice pickles the next time. He sliced with that same precision. He did a lot of things like his mother, like how he wrapped presents and even his handwriting a little. And also how he sliced pickles.

So now, every time I have a sandwich and go through the torment of mangling pickles to put on it, I think of Dad, and how perfect they always were and how mine will never be that way except one or two slices and always by accident. I think of Grandmother, and chuckle a little at the thought of her sitting at her kitchen table, slicing a whole jar of pickles ahead of time so that they were ready whenever anyone wanted any. And I miss them.

Dad always did the pickle slicing better. My sandwiches have suffered for lack of him.

The Master Slicers

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