Full Circle: A House Divided
My parents fought on Mondays. And six other days a week.
By Maury Z. Levy

My father and my mother really liked one another. Except on days that ended
in “Y.” They hollered and they yelled until their blood pressure swelled. And one of them would finally start to cry.

They argued over money and things that weren’t funny – like mortgages and tuna fish on rye.
Money was a trigger, but evening meals were bigger. Tuna and Creamettes always started the regrets that ended up with homemade apple pie.

“Tuna again?” my father would complain. “Why can’t we have more variety?”

“You want variety?” my mother said. “Go to Horn and Hardart’s.”

“And stick my hand in a little window?”

“I’ll tell you what you can stick in a little window.”

As sure as Mondays had their tuna, Tuesdays were full of fried liver. I hated liver. But I was a kid and kids didn’t get a vote in my house. So I filled up on mashed potatoes and sliced white bread as I stared at the shoe leather on my plate.

My father loved liver. But he wanted it with onions. Big Bermuda onions.

“Where are my onions?” he said. “I want my onions.”

My mother just looked at him. “And I want a nicer husband.”

A nicer husband? This made me worry. I worried about many things as a kid. I often worried that my parents’ arguments would lead to them breaking up. And what would I do? Where would I go?

“Yes, your honor, we are seeking a divorce and we’re not sure what to do with this child. The reason we’re breaking up, your honor? Tuna fish. She puts too much mayonnaise in my tuna fish.”

With that revelation, the courtroom collectively gasped. Too much mayo in his tuna? Isn’t that a capital offense?

And then I would think, “What will they do with me?” If they gave me to my mother, I would never starve. She would fatten me up on banana cake and tapioca pudding.

But my mother didn’t know the first thing about sports. She had never been to a baseball game. She wouldn’t know Richie Ashburn from Granny Hammer. No, I was sure, I could never live with my mother.

Now my father was a different story. A fight for love and glory. My father was perfect. He played sports in high school. He was a star basketball player. He knew every member of the 1960 Eagles championship team. They even gave him free tickets to the games.

In the spring and summer, we would go to a Phillies game almost every Sunday. He would buy me a scorecard and he would teach me how to keep score. He would let me eat a hot dog with an ice cream cone. My mother would never do that. It just wasn’t kosher.

But if I stayed with my father, other than those Sundays, I would starve. My father didn’t know how to cook. My father couldn’t make a sandwich if you spotted him two slices of bread.
And my father would never buy me nice clothes. He wore polka dot ties with plaid jackets. He would send me to school looking like a circus clown. And I didn’t like clowns.

So, no, I could never live with my father. But what if the judge made me choose? What if he put me up on the witness stand and made me swear on the Bible and made me pick one parent to live with? For the rest of my life.

“Your honor, you can’t split up my parents. They need each other. Sure, they always argue, but they always love me.”

And as luck would have it, my parents did work things out. Sure, they had to do it every few days. But they did it. And they managed to do it for 49 years.

They might not have always liked each other, but they sure did love each other. Come hell or soggy tuna.

January 2019
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