do you remember the first time you ate a home-cooked dinner somewhere other than your childhood home? the way the fried pork chops were saltier and the milk had ice cubes in it and it made you homesick, even when the house was right next door? when we're young, those idiosyncracies can mean a lot, but as we age, they mean less. sometimes, though, they stick with us and we remember them forever.
**i was helping my friend finish his chores so that we could go out. i had offered to wash the dishes while he dried and put away. i washed the spoons and laid them down, willy nilly, on the dish towel on the counter next to the sink; he turned them over so the bowl was facing down. at my house you just put the spoons in the silverware basket of the dish rack, but at his house you let all the silverware air-dry...his tiny act made me feel unsophisticated.
**in the home of another boy i knew, they used pot polish on their pots and pans. no one in my family had ever polished the bottom of a pot...i didn't even knew that pot polish was something you could buy. to this day, i don't know where to buy pot polish and i wonder if i would use it anyway. my pots live in a cabinet. we never see the bottoms.
**in the same family as the pot polish, they made orange juice from a can in the blender each morning and sat in the kitchen and ate breakfast as a family. we, on the other hand, ate bowls of cereal in front of morning cartoons.
**they were also the first people i met who ate real butter. one summer i was visiting for a week and after they all left for work, throughout the day, i ate an entire stick of butter on pieces of toast. it was the first time i had tasted real butter and it was as if i was eating little bites of joy all day long. in between pieces of toast, i sunbathed.
**the parents in this house also showered together every morning. to this day i don't know if it was romantic, timesaving or motivated by a desire to conserve water.
**i knew a family who didn't have any living room furniture, but did have a baby grand piano.
**for a few months in high school, i lived with the family of a friend. on saturday mornings, everyone in the house did chores until noon and then you were on your own. one saturday i lied to the mom of the family and said i was going to spend time with my sister so that i wouldn't have to do chores. instead, i went downtown on the bus and went shopping. on saturdays in my house, you slept in, stayed in your pajamas all day if you wanted and ate chicken noodle soup and grilled cheese, didn't do the dishes and watched television.
**i dated a boy whose mother owned a beautiful turn of the century home. she was awarded the home in her divorce settlement from the boy's father. she couldn't afford to heat the home in the winter so we used to sit in the living room in january with our winter coats on watching old movies, and making out with cold lips.