Last week, the Queen B’s dad, Jerry the Papa B, passed away. Jerry was an airline pilot for most of his life, but he also a skied, scuba, and sang in Disney’s barbershop quartet. He was a loving father to the Queen B, a doting grandfather to the Ladybug, and a good friend to me.
Jerry was a prankster with a sharp wit and a straight face. One popular Jerryism goes If’n you ain’t outta town by sunset, then it’ll be curtains fer ya. And if’n it weren’t for Venetian blinds, it’d be curtains fer us all. You could never really tell if he was joking until the joke was clearly on you, and even then, you could never be 100% sure the joke was over.
For example, one time when the Queen B and I were in California visiting her folks, we decided to all head out for some ice cream. For whatever reason, the parlor’s flavor of the day was a hideous gray concoction called “black licorice ice cream,” which everyone — even the folks who had to serve it, even the owner who was embarrassed to have thought it up — thought was a bad idea, an abomination to all that was holy (in ice cream, at least).
Except Jerry, who not only claimed it sounded tasty, but actually ordered it.
After a minute or so it was brought to our table, a drab, gun-metal-colored hunk of frozen horror. It was not pleasant to look at. Imagine pureeing a person’s cranium and then dispensing the churned up gray-matter through a soft-serve press, and you’d have the general idea. It didn’t smell much better. It stunk like a bag of black licorice after it had been left in a hot car several hours, sickly sweet, and somewhat spoiled.
Jerry stuck in his spoon, scooped up a heaping helping of gray goop, and stuck in in his mouth. The two lady B’s (the Queen and her mom) joked that he’d never be able to swallow it, while ashen soda jerks and waiters watched in disbelief, knowing that the last guy who had tried had nearly died when his tongue, in a desperate attempt to end its pain, hung itself in his throat.
Jerry swallowed it. We waited for him to explode.
Instead, he simply said “It’s good,” and then proceeded to scoop himself another bite, and then another, and then another. Eventually he added, “Want some?”
The Queen B and the Nana B turned their noses up so fast they got whiplash, while our waiter threw himself behind the cash register and wept openly. I, however, decided that two could play at that game, and answered “Sure.” I took my spoon and scooped myself a portion of the slimy slate-colored slop, and popped it into my mouth.
It’s hard to describe exactly what it tasted like, because as soon as my tongue touched, it recoiled and immediately tried to crawl out of my head through my left ear canal; my brain was busy slithering out the right one, and my eyeballs simply popped. Freshly ground frozen assholes was a description that lept immediately to mind; Oh God I’m about to die was another.
I coughed and sputtered and spat the goop out into my water, unable to eke even a little bit of the revolting glop down my throat. I collapsed in my seat, shivering in disgust and clawing at my throat. “That is some foul-ass shit, Jerry,” I gasped, whereupon the two lady B’s burst into several minutes of uncontrolled laughter.
Jerry just smiled, knowingly raised his eyebrow for the very briefest of moments, and quietly went back to eating his black licorice ice cream.
We’re gonna miss you. Safe flying.