You Fed Me Fried Fish(tail)

We rolled to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Sunday after church. About 100 food vendors.

Always nice to enjoy the waterfront and milder weather with, well, a smorgasbord of savory and sweet to nosh on. The downside is that food “fairs” like these are deceptively pricey. You don’t think about it because you’re not going to a fancy sit-down restaurant with cloth napkins.

You think that because you’re eating standing up, outside, from makeshift booths, you’re feasting on cheap eats but as you leave, strolling the kiddos on the cobblestoned streets of Brooklyn to your car, you come to realize that you paid $9 for six, tiny lumpia, $6 for an ice cream cookie sandwich, and $3.50 for a blueberry corn popsicle, just to name a few.

And you ain’t exactly full.

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As usual, I ended up chitchatting with people among the crowds, asking people what they were eating and if it met up to the hype. Met a Chinese-American dad and his mom, with four kiddos and two cousins who are now living with them. Talked to a couple mamas with their double strollers.

The most memorable part of the food frenzy was when we sat down briefly at a picnic table to feed the boys. We ended up sitting next to an older couple who was doing work. The grandma, her chicken and waffles, and the grandpa, his fish n chips. It was a whole fish, fried, tail and all.

The line for the fish fry was absurd so I asked him if it was really that good. He was going to town on them, his hands full of fish juice and accompanying herbs.

He came up for air just to break me off the fishtail to try. He handed it over near my face, like we were family. I felt sheepish and shy, and honored, to have this stranger break me off a piece of the fish, no boundaries screaming, “I do not know you.”

I said, “Oh, no, you don’t have to do that! I don’t wanna take your food…” but he wasn’t gonna play this game.

And I got my taste of the deep fried whiting.

I sat there for a few moments, taking in the sky, the crowds, the music, the water.

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I felt like weeping.

I missed my dad.

Even though I am now a parent myself, I think there will always be a vacuum in my heart, hovering around or encased within the God-shaped one, to be loved DEEPLY by my parents. I KNOW they love me so much, but to be able to bawl into their bosom/chest and feel the love of a mama/papa bear for her/his cub.

This isn’t something I consciously think about daily as I Mama Bear my own cubs but once in a while, as I fall asleep at night, or wake up from a vivid dream, oh, how I long to bare my soul to my earthly parent and be truly seen, heard, accepted and prized.

Kevin has noticed it in more recent years as my dad has become less and less accessible, spending more and more time overseas just to cobble together some income in his twilight years.

Kevin said that I seem to be yearning for the love and guidance of a father, and that sometimes, even when he is loving me as best as he knows how, as a best friend and husband, I seem to be looking past him, searching for that fatherly love.

I told this Irish man and his wifey that his gesture was so touching, to be offered food like we was family. He shrugged it off and said with his charming Irish accent, “It was good. I wanted you to try it.”

His Irish-American wifey, born and raised in Brooklyn, added, “He talks to everyone everywhere we go.”

Me, too. I don’t plan to and it’s just in spurts here and there, not whole life stories a la Forrest Gump but I do like these micro-connections.

And then I stumbled upon this article from The New York Times last night before I finally succumbed to sleep. The article states: “When we talk to strangers, we stand to gain much more than the ‘me time’ we might lose.”

Thank you, kind sir, for feeding me that fishtail. It hit the spot.

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