Rules

I owe my dad for all sorts of things throughout my life. Lately though, it's been a rocky road and not in the 'best flavor of ice cream ever invented' kind of way.

But for the sake of Emmy, I'm trying not to be a total douche when he comes over to visit.

In fact, I even took him and Asian Grandma to lunch this weekend at Elephant Bar. To try out their three course special lunch with $1.99 Mai Tais. As an Asian, I feel it is my duty to drink the Asian drink and to take advantage of any and all coupons and specials.

We're seated snugly in a booth. Me by the window, Emmy, asleep in her carseat, The Good Doctor, wishing he was asleep in a carseat after a long work week and very little sleep since he stayed up to wait for me Friday night and then got up super early to go to New Moon Saturday morning. Yes, dammit, I have dragged him into this. Marriage is messy business.

Anyway, we get our food and then, per usual, my dad begins his dissection of the meal. The rice is too wet. Chew chew. Actually, the rice is OK. Chew chew. I need hot sauce. Chew chew. These ribs are too tender. The meat is too soft. Like it's cooked for people with no teeth. I have teeth. I like to chew. Chew chew.

The Good Doctor looks up from his macademia nut crusted chicken and says all matter of fact, "So many rules." And Asian Grandma looks up to the heavens like "Don't I know it," because this is the man she's been living with for the past 33 years and she is SO over his food drama. I start laughing. And my dad is like, "No. I'm just saying the way things should be done." And The Good Doctor's like, "Yeah, kinda like rules. Rules tell you the way things should be done."

Asian Grandma is just shaking her head and concentrating on getting her coconut shrimp off the skewer. And The Good Doctor's like, "Huy's Rules." And he sits back from his meal, and starts listing them out loud. In a subtle accent that's a toned down version of my dad's.

"Rule #1: Must have rice everyday."

"Rule #2: Rice must not be too dry. Rice must not be too wet."

"Rule #3: Must have hot sauce with every meal."

"Rule #4: No salty with sweet." Because my dad's ribs came with a side of cinnamon apples on the same plate, next to the cole slaw. And he was like, "Oh no no," as he separated the sweet from the salty. "I NEVER eat something sweet with my food like this tsk tsk."

"Rule #5: Hot. Hot food has to be hot. If it's not the right tempoorature, it's not good."

"Rule #6: No water with the meal. It die-loots the food tastes." (Plural. My dad adds 's' to everything.)

And by now we're all laughing. But I'm roaring. Because The Good Doctor is on a roll. After 15 years together, and countless meals with my dad giving the play by play about every aspect of his food, The Good Doctor is Letting It Go.

So many rules. Including, "Rule #7: Don't talk too much. We don't talk a lot when we're eating, though. When it's time to eat, eat!" (My dad throws "though" into sentences all the time. Makes you wonder what he's referring to, what subordinate clause you missed from a previous conversation.)

So next time you're over for dinner, listen. You'll pick up a rule or two, I'm sure.