Drink of This Wine

by AD Schweiss

The thing about the Last Supper was Jesus was willing to sit down and eat with someone who betrayed him, and by any account, gnostic or canonical, everyone made it through the meal. So I say unto you: don’t be high and mighty. Grab a fork and dine with me. I have done you no harm and the governor won’t call.

Once you mentioned the Florida Keys. Vacation you took with your wife; last one you took and you don’t take many. Told me about the lobster like you were still there, the butter was still in your voice, warm and rich enough for me to share it, so when they asked me what I wanted I said two lobsters and this one is yours.

Hundred forty pounds—I never weighed more—but somehow I can order all this food and no one looks at me sideways. Lobster just for you, but the rest are my favorites and I hope you’re hungry.

The Honey Nut Cheerios are all I wanted for dessert. Used to eat those after work, when it was dark but that New Mexico summer, that trapped heat, and my feet swollen too tired to make anything else. Could take a mouthful and strain the milk through a bite. Two-percent that sticks to the bowl, a big serving bowl like my wife used for salad, all full of Honey Nut Cheerios. Next morning, the kids: Dad, where’s the Cheerios and I tell them to eat oatmeal. Guiltier than shit.

The thing about the Last Supper that never sat right with me: Judas betraying Jesus was all part of the plan. So how’s that betraying someone if they do what you need them to do? If they’re exactly who you need, even if it’s ugly and awful? The words are: do this in remembrance of me, and you can’t really remember someone properly until they’re gone.

I only had surf-and-turf once before. Played defensive back in high school; junior year I led conference in eye-en-tees. Blew out my knee, first game of the playoffs, and if I’d had surgery for it, sometimes I wonder where I’d be. Or: I used to, but I don’t do that kind of thinking anymore. My dad took me to the nice restaurant in town, over on Main where my parents went on their anniversary, and I was in sweatpants with my leg packed with ice but we both wore ties. Nobody looked sideways at a kid on crutches drinking wine; the food was too good.

I think about my father across from me, his face was mostly candlelit. Sadder than if he’d cried, because I felt he was saying: this is as close as you’ll get. We raised a glass in remembrance of some championship I’d never have and having something to celebrate, and instead he asked how the pain was.

My father helped me back to the car. I hadn’t got the hang of crutches yet. Only in the car did I see his eyes getting wet, it was dark and I could see the tears reflecting the headlights of other cars. You hate to see your kid in pain.

They let you pick whatever for the menu. They don’t ask who. Who would you want to sit across from you at the table? Could maybe be family, or somebody they say you wronged. My dad died some years back and I couldn’t get a pass to the funeral.

Use a mug for a bowl and I’ll split the Cheerios.

We argued over those, my wife and I, whether we should give them regular or honey nut. I think we met in the middle: whoever did the grocery shopping got to choose. Mostly, I guess—if I’m being honest—I was buying the sweet kind for myself.

That’s all I want, right now, is to share a bowl of Cheerios. Not this one, here. A bowl like the ones I remember. Right now, the taste is almost like Styrofoam and there’s something in my throat like the milk has gone sour.

Pastor says all things in their season, which we are to take to mean: everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t say whose reason.

I have no one to eat with, and I pray they’re buried close together but nobody will tell me and so I’m eating with you because there’s going to be nothing left of me and I can’t even taste this good food. Imagine if I’d been alone to eat this meal I couldn’t taste.

You might not remember you said anything at all about the Florida Keys but I remember the words and how the smile reached your eye, and how, for a moment, the hellish chatter of violent men was like some churn of a gentle surf.

So if I get a last request to go with the meal, it is:

Go back there, to that place in the Florida Keys. You can afford it because nothing holds you here. Eat a lobster at a table with her and make sure there are candles and butter. Drink of this wine.

Do this in remembrance of me.

AD Schweiss is a lawyer who works in Northern California. You can find him on Twitter at @ADSchweiss.
%d bloggers like this: