My Famous Spaghetti and Kenny Rogers

by Dr David

I have a humble abode, but right behind the church, here on this hill, the view from my roof is as good as you can get in Colonia San Antonio. Last evening we were up there entertaining a couple, who had entertained us last week. The sun had broken through the clouds and was getting ready to set. I was seated with him. The women were across the way conversing.

My famous spaghetti sauce was slowly cooling off on the unlit stove downstairs. It always tastes better the next day, so, this time, I made it the day before. I added the eggplant, zucchini and red bell peppers last, just before they arrived, to keep them al dente. The sauce only need a fire under it to cook these latest additions, only 10-12 minutes, just long enough to boil the pasta.

I call it my “famous” red sauce because more than once it has struck fear into the hearts of men of Italian decent. The first came to dinner many years ago when I was at university. After a second mouthful he sat there troubled. Then he solemnly, painfully announced, to the world rather than anyone in particular, looking as if he expected to be punished with a lightening strike for the sacrilege, “This sauce is better than my grandmother's.”

Some years later I told this story to another couple while serving the sauce. The man took a bite and assumed the same worried, guilty countenance. Pulling himself together a bit, he announced, “Well, her sauce was thin. Yours is thick.” I did not push the point.

Up on the roof we were talking about mothers. Mine was never ready when it was time to go. If the invite was for 7:00pm, my father wanted to arrive at 7:00pm, not 7:20 or 7:30. When finally we were in the car, dad was angry. This soured a lot of happy occasions. Many years later on a summer Sunday morning, already 25 years ago, as my girlfriend and I and our two little daughters were getting ready to go to the beach, I petulantly exclaimed something about it being time to go. These three very happy females in various stages of déshabillé met my irritation with glances of great compassion that seemed to ask, What's wrong with David? This episode also made me ask, What's wrong with David? Eventually I found the answer. I had internalized my father's anger. Rather than confront how his anger had negatively affected me, I acted it out, as if to say, it is normal to become irritable when it is time to go somewhere. I give you the wisdom of 25 years in holistic medical practice and tell you that that is how it works, folks. Just like Freud said, “The repressed remains primitive.” Psychology's bottom line: Don't act out.

I know now what I didn't know then, but I don't know yet what I don't know yet.

Just recently my mother's contribution to this neurotic dynamic is becoming apparent to me. As a result of this understanding I am getting things done early, not waiting for the last minute. My buddy used to say, “Right hand. Left shoulder,” meaning, give yourself a pat on the back. (I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid.) The maid came two days ago. The sauce just needs a finishing touch. I'm on the roof, watching a flock of pigeons settling in for the night, circling the dome of the church, the light of the setting sun reflecting from their white under-wings as they flap by.

My guest tells me that his mother was constantly worried, never able to enjoy life. Downstairs over a glass of wine and dinner, he and I agree that you never get over that deficient mothering. Even as you learn to compensate, the void remains; the great opportunity has passed. With apologies to Kenny Rogers', my version goes, “...but some kind of wounds they don't heal. You picked a fine time to leave me Lucille.” His wife asks my girlfriend if I can sing. “Si, muy bien,” she is told, and I am prevailed upon to demonstrate.

With oyster mushrooms and kalamata olives and an extra day to season, it was the best spaghetti sauce I ever made; way better than your Italian grandmother's.

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Dr David started his long publishing career as the editor of his prep school newspaper, which he immediately changed into a monthly magazine with feature length articles. He moved to SMA six years ago this November and started publishing San Miguel Events six months later. Please visit his new project, the "new" Lokkal: www.lokkal.com/sma/magazine/2017/september/welcome.php

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