Irreverence at Tahoe

by cheri block

My father was a people person.

And he could be very funny when he wasn’t tense. He was an active man.  And, at the end of his life, quite brave, considering the circumstances.

I will remember him today for his (now)  famous irreverent comment made in the presence of my daughter’s high school boyfriend, the son of a pastor of a conservative Christian church in town.

The deed was done around a large round oak table, situated under an enveloping  Tiffany-type hanging lamp of stained glass. Its colored orbs of red pears and yellow bananas may have contributed to my father’s mood that night.

Or maybe his mood was silly because of the drinks served out on the deck under the enormous cedar and pine trees that surrounded our cabin like guards. Lake Tahoe August nights, after a day of puttering around the cabin, often produced for him a relaxation without the customary censor. Away from the pressures of the dental office and bank statements, my father relaxed among his grown children and grandchildren. And how marvelous that Sara had invited her boyfriend to join the family this weekend.

When the coolness of the evening and the mosquitoes’ fine whines ended our outdoor cocktail hour, mother and I served the dinner of grilled chicken, corn, salad, and bread. And a side of spinach.

After the meal (and a bit more wine), oak chairs were pushed back a bit from the table to make room for dessert and conversation. Our teenage son Ben asked to be excused but was denied. My mother stopped fidgeting for a second and actually stayed in her seat. My husband wondered out loud what was for dessert. I sipped what was left of my wine after swirling it around in the glass a couple of times.

Dad wanted to know if his granddaughter and pastor’s son watched Beverly Hills 90210.

The conversation needed an upgrade. I knew how to provide one. After all, I am a teacher and have a question to ask should a lull in the discussion occur.

“If you could be any electrical appliance, what would it be and why?”

Oh my, such a question. Everyone around the table, especially my father, loved this opportunity for creativity. The circuits switched on; the current flowed.

My mother said, ” I would be a blender because I like to put different flavors together and see what comes out.”

OK, I thought.

My husband would be a Skil-saw, my sister would be a curling iron, and so on.

And so on.

My father took a last bite of spinach before my mother removed his plate. He took a swig of wine and washed them together like mouthwash. This mastication went unnoticed by Sara and her religious boyfriend.

Well, Dad, what electric appliance would you be?

“I would be a vibrator, ” he said.

And smiled.

Dad, on this Father’s Day, I will miss you around my table. No one has stepped in to replace you.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Irreverence at Tahoe

  1. Sara Marek says:

    Oh, that was a funny conversation to be sure. I remember it well. And, well, you know what they say about pastor’s sons….I don’t think he was too taken aback.

  2. Jeanie says:

    What a wonderful scene of memorable times gone by shared with your Dad. Thank you for that warm and intimate glimpse into your lives. I sat with you all, savouring my virtual wine, until that delightful moment with your father. I’m afraid I splurted out the last of my wine. lol
    Delightful! I’m still smiling.
    Jeanie

  3. Bravo! Prime Hughie! I must tell you sometime about his comment after my first annual zucchini party!

  4. bogard says:

    Brings back great memories of times shared at Lake Tahoe. Boy do I miss the Lake. I often remember a comment attributed to your Dad, referring to things overrated and underrated, and it becomes more true as life goes on. I will leave it at that. Thanks for the memories, Cheri and Hugh. And great cone pic!! Nice bokeh, as they say in the biz.

  5. Cheri says:

    Ahh, bogard, you remind me of all those hot August nights stomping the dance floor at Meeks Bay to Satisfaction…the carefree and (I might add for spice) hormonal exuberance of youth. Afternoons lounging around on the redwood deck around the cabin, listening to chipmunks fight over pine nuts.

    Walking down to Chambers Lodge after dinner and listening to the last wooden boat motor by on the way to Fleur de Lac.

    Love to have you out to the Lake some summer.

  6. Man of Roma says:

    Gorgeous post, greatly written (and so poignant!) I am happy to find you back dear Cheri the Faerie!!

    Via your post I was with you ALL at the large round oak table in a Lake Tahoe August night. Yes I was.

    What a lake by the way! (I only saw it in the pics my daughter shot together with her buds, or in my mind with Chandler).

    Contradictions – have no better term than this horrible one – give a real feel to writings.

    Your dad was tense because of his job and yet was a people person; he had a ‘customary censor’ (my dad too alas) but was also funny (‘funny’ ie eccentric? So it may not be a contradiction lol). You felt the family (each member of it: such a warm person you are!) but as a teacher you also knew how to get over the impasse caused by a (funny) “do you watch Beverly Hills 90210?” [not to mention the ‘vibrator’ joke’ ah ah ah] said to the son of a conservative pastor – although the electric appliance question sounds kinda odd to me I don’t know why.

    Well, I am no conservative pastor but I was a bit worried when my eldest 14-year-old daughter watched the Beverly Hills series; the younger, 10, was not allowed at all although in later years she did and did and did, together with Sex and the city]

    Very confused observations mine are I know. But the picture of your dad is so great Cheri, thank you. Such a good woman you are.

    Giovanni

  7. Cheri says:

    Always honored to receive a comment from you, Giovanni.
    I had fun writing this piece. It was meant to invite others around our Tahoe table for a glimpse into my family, my father in particular, and some of the fun we had in those days.
    Those days are gone now.
    Mother is in assisted living. Dad is gone. Judge Blah and I have stepped into the roles of “elders” as the American Indians would label us.
    I’ve begun only recently to consider how we will be remembered by our children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, sisters and brothers.
    Considering how we will be remembered can be a humbling experience.
    Should you come to Tahoe, please let us know.
    I’d like to visit your Lake Como. I hear it is breathtaking.

  8. Your father’s “vibrator” is just the type of repartee that gets me scolded by my daughters. Freedom of expression is not sacred in my household.
    And, by the way, are you still planning a trip our way come September or October?

  9. Cheri says:

    🙂
    My dad said whatever he wanted. I suspect the only place he felt free was in our house and maybe in his boat.

    And YES! We are coming to Montreal although have not officially booked the trip. We are planning to travel from the 9th-15th of September. We may go to PEI too. When I know more, I’ll e-mail you.
    If memory serves, you and your family were traveling as well.

  10. Manius says:

    I’m going to montreal on next july. Pity, cherie

  11. Manius says:

    Satisfaction, by the Rolling Stones? Ok, those days may be gone but we can still have some satisfaction, can’t we

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