Like I wrote in a previous post,I come from a long line of fit-pitchers on both sides of my family, none of whom would waste their energy on anything less than a full-blown fit. My father’s family is so good at fit-pitchin’ that they developed a pet term for it: “showing their Steen,” Steen being the family name. My cousin had a set routine for dealing with her transgressions. She’d call my mother, sighed loudly and go into a standard monologue prefaced by “Today I really showed my Steen.” Then she’d describe how somebody somewhere had pushed her one millimeter too far, and she’d retaliated with a grand mal hissy fit. She always ended by saying she could never show her face in that particular place again.
But fit-pitchin’ isn’t gender-specific, and of all my fit-pitching relatives, my daddy reigned supreme. Unlike amateur fit-pitchers, he didn’t need much to set him off. In fact, his most bodacious fit was caused by a strawberry shortcake. My retinas were scorched at the time, and decades later, they still suffer third-degree burns.
The Goat and I had met my parents for lunch, and after the meal we all succumbed to dessert. My daddy ordered strawberry shortcake, and it came on a demitasse-sized saucer more suitable to a fairy queen than a man almost six and a half feet tall. Frothy whipped cream held alternating layers of cake and strawberries together, forming a delicate tower one-and-a half inches square and eight inches tall.
Obviously, it was a disaster waiting to happen. After two bites, the tower collapsed, and the top half landed on Daddy’s best dress pants, fresh from the dry cleaners, and his fit-pitchin’ gene went into overdrive. He jumped up, swiped the mess on his leg onto the floor, then swooped up the innocent remainder on his plate and flung it into the air, where it orbited the room like an ill-designed miniature pink-and-white Sputnik. I won’t type the words he said during his grand performance, but my daddy also had a cussin’ gene, and it did itself proud that day.
I’d like to report the restaurant was empty, but it was a full house. The other customers tried to hide under the tables, and the Goat and I, our desserts practically untouched, slunk out of the restaurant while Daddy silently paid the bill. The last thing we heard before escaping outside was my mother, calm and assured and lying through her teeth. “I’m so sorry,” she told the cashier. “We took him out of the home just this morning for a little outing. His psychiatrist thought he was ready, but obviously he’s not.”
So what’s the point of this? Sometimes you just have to have a fit, so you might as well pitch one for the history books. Just as important, however, is making sure you have somebody to get you away from the scene of the crime.