by Robert J. BAUMANN
was in rare form. He was shouting at Lori, which is
nothing new if you have read about this father/daughter
relationship before. Lori, being her father's daughter,
wore a matching shade of apoplectic red. It was no contest
really. Lori's voice was of the soft, female variety.
In a shouting match with her dad, she did not have the
or the octaves.
Tears are usually a woman's ultimate weapon, but Lori
was far too liberated to ever admit to her wounded feelings
publicly. Instead she would save it all up for our pillow
talk. I would arrive in bed, ready for a good night's
sleep. Lori would arrive ready to pour out her soul.
She did not want my opinion, really. What she did want
was a way to listen to herself and I provided a convenient
method just by a few well placed "Uhs", "Umms"
and "Ohs". It was good policy not to let Lori
know that I was half-listening
to her. I suspect this is how Flip had learned to deal
with her mother, the formidable Marie DeGaetano.
Marie adored me. She was wild about me from day one.
Lori brought me home to meet her because we had been
talking about getting engaged. I greeted my future mother-in-law
with a bemused "Hi, Mom". She looked at me.
She looked at Lori. She turned her attention back to
me and let loose with the longest string of pure hate
I had ever
heard. It ended with something like "...and if
I ever hear you call me 'Mom' again, I will rip off
your arm from your shoulder and beat you to death with
it!". The rest of our
evening was peppered with an occasional "Drop dead"
or a quickly posed "Get cancer". What was
my reply? Lori clued me in on the method. Say nothing.
If I survived my
first ''date'' with her mother, Marie would accept me.
I was the pitiful substitute her prize daughter chose
instead of a real man. Marie was convinced I was an
Anglo-Saxon version of Flip DeGaetano. Her own discontent
Flip led her to feel that her daughter had learned nothing
from her own suffering. Marie loved me about as much
as the hairballs her pet cat left on the dining table.
I was thinking of Marie's neurotic cat [whose name was
Bonnie] when Lori piped in with a "...and don't
you think so, too?". In instances when I was not
sure what side of
a problem Lori was on I'd find a neutral answer.
"Logic must prevail in things like this,"
I said. I was not at all sure when illogic would be
useful,but this sounded nice.
"You said it, Bart. You said it," Lori agreed,
nodding her head. Her little lips were pursed closed
and she had that DeGaetano face about her that said
far more than words ever
could. I only wish the hell I knew what I had said.
"Logic is the key here. I'm going to talk to Dad
again and just use logic. You can't argue with logic!
Good idea, Boo-boo." Don't laugh. Boo-boo is
Lori's pet name for me, just as surely as my name for
her is Bunchy. Forget I told you that.
Lori turned over and our little chat had ended.She was
ready for sleep. Nine hours and one very logical exchange
later and both father and daughter were shouting to
"Listen to reason, " Lori was saying. "A
computer on that table in the back and you are not a
cheap, little coffee shop... you are an internet cafe!".
"No." Flip did not respond to
logic. He had a standard all his own. Lori was the same
"Those filthy cartons make this place look like
a dump. No one uses that table. Why not clean it up
and make some money?" Lori had taken some business
classes. She knew
more about profit than her dad. What she did not know
was that you cannot spend your way to wealth. Her incessant
ideas for Flip's store were lavish and outrageous.
she saw profit where none existed. Flip's capitalist
sensibilities are best described as "If it ain't
broke, don't fix it"
or "When in doubt, do nothing".
deal, so it looks like a dump. Hell, it is a dump. The
cartons are antiques. I put 'em there on opening day
so no one would be dumb enough to try and sit there.
I move 'em? After all these years the dirt has to be
an inch thick. When I die you can move 'em, not before."
Flip insisted on serving customers only at the counter.
When celebrities arrived looking for a table, Flip would
merely ask "And do you have a reservation?". He would sit
them at the counter ... or not at all.
Streisand once ate a meat loaf sandwich at Flip's Hole.
Given her singing voice, the meat loaf must have been
a bit boney. She sang from that time on like she was
trying to dislodge a bone in her throat. It made her
did not accept death as a reasonable or logical reply.
"If I have to have my way over your dead body,
so be it... but it will be over my dead body, too!"
I was lost. It seemed
like an opera where everybody dies at the end. Pharoh
was given seven plagues to make him release the enslaved
children of Israel. Lori had but one plague to use.
am bringing Mommy tomorrow. Let's see what she thinks!".
paused. "You would do that to me? Your own father?"
"I would. It's for your own good."
carefully to me. Read my lips. Number 1, no cafe. Number
2, your mother stays home. Number 3, you are banned
from this store effective immediately!
me," threatened Lori. Flip turned to me and yelled
"Can't you control your woman?".
you control yours?", I asked. This started a brand
new round of yelling and screaming. Nothing was resolved,
but I knew one thing for sure. I would get no sleep
No Justice? No peace. Amen.