Fried mashed potato sticks.

My dad was having an issue placing an order at an online retailer and called me for help. I told him I’d swing by after work expecting, as he did, that the issue was something simple and he was just missing a minute detail. What I found was the most profoundly poorly written webpage I’d ever encountered.

“So here’s what I want, and I click ‘Buy Now’ and this is what happens,” he explained as the screen changed from the item page to a page that informed us that his shopping cart was empty. “What the hell am I missing?” I informed him that I didn’t think he was missing anything. I took a seat in front of the computer and had a go. Same result. So I switched browsers. Same result. So I remotely connected to my PC at home and tried a third browser. Same result.

“This is the dumbest fucking website I have ever encountered and I don’t think the cocksuckers on the other end deserve your money.” Clearly I was more than slightly frustrated.

We found what dad was after on another website, one that actually functioned, and dad asked if he could take me to dinner. Never one to turn down free food we climbed in my FJ and headed to Red Lobster.

How can a meal be both mediocre and extrodinary at the me time? Easy. I’m not sure which coast lies closest to this establishment, and I’m not sure the seafood placed before me would know either. This seafood had certainly not seen the sea for a great length of time. That pretty much sums up the mediocre.

The extraordinary section began upon our arrival. An older gentleman approached the hostess station and gave advise on where to seat my father and I. When our name was called we walked toward the station and the old gentleman stretched out his hand toward my dad. They exchanged pleasantries and my father asked how “your boy” was doing. Dad later explained that the son of the older gentleman had just returned from Walter Reed after suffering major injuries as a result of an IED attack. Apparently most of both of his legs were damaged and he had recently had a foot amputated.

We followed our hostess, but only momentarily as the older gentleman directed my father around the corner where his nephew and family were eating. I worked with the nephew when I was a bitch worker at the airport and my father works with him still, although not as a bitch worker, depending on whom you query.

“I swear we can’t go anywhere where dad doesn’t know someone,” I say to the hostess. She explains that her mother is the same way. Apparently a trip to WalMart with her mom must have an additional hour planned for socializing with random people with whom her mother is acquainted.

It seemed the three of us would never reach our seat as no more than twenty feet further into the restaurant another gentleman greets my dad. I smile and roll my eyes and the hostess laughs aloud.

So the extraordinary part of the evening… What? You thought dad knowing everyone was the extraordinary part? Nah. That happens everywhere and has become quite ordinary.

The extraordinary part of dinner was just sitting and talking with my dad. Not arguing about anything, not complaining that he wasn’t doing something I wanted or whatever. Just hanging out and talking about stuff. Which brings me to the fried mashed potato sticks.

My dad was given orders to Bremerhaven Germany, at that time West Germany, and mom and I couldn’t accompany him until the following year. In that time he’d seen the sites and made a bit of a list of places to take my mom and I. One of those places was the Barque Seute Deern.

Dad wasn’t sure where I was while he and mom went to have seafood, and that plays into the story at no level whatsoever, on the Seute Deern and was expecting a dinner similar to the dinner he and his buddies had while mom and I were still stateside. In that dinner the guys had a few courses of varying sea dishes with a main course of halibut. The halibut steak, my father remembered, was about ten inches long, five or so inches wide and an inch or two thick.

One of the dishes served before the halibut was what my dad described as a four inch tater-tot filled with mashed potatoes. He remember being served six, or so, on a plate and he and his buddies thought they were simply amazing. When the dish showed up again with my mom she too found them delectable. This time, however, instead of the halibut steak a much smaller, but thicker steak was presented. Dad recalled it was about four inches square and “super” thick.

Mom and dad enjoyed the dishes they’d been served finishing the six fried mashed potato sticks quickly and a beautiful sea shell filled with a small shrimp covered with a cream sauce presented a la The Birth of Venus sans Venus. When he was delivering the smaller-than-remembered fish steak the server asked if there was anything else he could bring. My father asked if the server would be kind enough to bring more of the FMPS and when he did he brought a dozen or more in a bowl. Keep in mind that my dad is a world class exaggerator so the “dozen” may have not been 12.

The fish steak was dispatched quickly and mom and dad were stuffing their faces with FMPS when the server came wheeling out his serving cart. Confused, mom and dad looked at each other in disbelief as the server placed another fish steak on the table. Apparently it was the second half of the fish dinner. Having not anticipated a second half both my mom and dad had filled themselves with everything else and were suddenly filled with a great deal of embarrassment as they now had a large hunk of fish and more tater sticks than they should’ve asked requested.

As soon as the server left the table mom and dad both launched into “Operation: Hide The Tater Sticks.” Employing lettuce, napkins, and the aforementioned Venus-ish shrimpy sea shell to disguise the fact that they’d asked for more food than they could eat, which at the time was a carnal sin in my household. “You asked for it, you eat it,” etc.

I sure it would be much more entertaining if you were there to hear the way my father spun this yarn but, again, it wasn’t the story so much as that it was a story. Most of my life was spent at odds with my dad. We didn’t have a lot of time, like this dinner, to just sit and tell stories and pal around. He wasn’t always around because of the Air Force, and it seemed like when he was around, he was playing the part of the disciplinarian. Many, many, many people told me that our relationship would get better once I wasn’t living with the guy. “Yeah, I bet,” I would reply in disbelief. They were right. Sorry for not believing you all.

I wish I would’ve listened but, more than that, I wish he would have taken me to have some of those fried mashed potato sticks. Jerk.


The above is, perhaps, a meteorological representation of mine and my fathers relationship. The clouds are moving left to right, of course.


4 responses to “Fried mashed potato sticks.

  1. Nice!

    … When your Dad and you kept getting stopped on the way to your table, and you were joking around and hitting it off with the hostess, I thought the extraordinary part of the evening would end up that you and she hit it off so well that you got her number, called her up later this evening after she was off, met up forthwith and that it appears to be the start of a long and beautiful relationship.

    … apparently that wasn’t the case but it was a good story and I’m glad to hear you and your old man are starting to develop the relationship you’ve never yet had. That must feel good. Really good.

    • You are either over estimating my charm or under estimating the hostesses intelligence.

      Actually, I didn’t even think about it because, among other things, she was very young.

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