I called my Dad from the car to tell him to put down what he was doing, that I was 5 minutes away and we were going out for lunch.
Ho-kayyyy, he says.
I don't know if I can adequately describe to you the way my Dad says this word without you hearing it, but it is one of those things, like pretending to walk into a door, or nodding off while listening to you speak, that he does to make you laugh. He says it with the false cheeriness of a nurse in a mental ward, of someone who is both utterly distressed and still trying to maintain a positive outlook on life.
Get ready, I say.
Yiiiiiiiiii!!!, he says, like an excited schoolgirl. Another classic in his repertoire.
No one in my family laughs at any of these things, at least not on a regular basis (sometimes the context is just too ridiculous not to laugh) but it's like we've all made a sort of unspoken agreement that's it's actually funnier if we keep a straight face. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's not; but most of the time everyone appreciates the effort.
When I get there, my Dad is standing in the driveway with my brother Miles. If my Dad is at the funny guy/physical comedy end of the spectrum, Miles is at the straight-man/upright and formal other end. This is not to say that he does not appreciate funny, or laugh easily or, on occasion, say something hysterical under his breath, but mostly he is dignified and serious. He looks at me and, in his quiet baritone voice, says, Would you like go to the new Sri-Lankan restaurant. It just opened down the street.
My Dad and I glanced at each other for a half-second. I'm not going to say I'm against Sri-Lankan food, I'm not even sure I've ever had it, but at 12 o'clock on a Friday afternoon, I'm thinking more along the lines of sandwich, salad, maybe soup. I let the words Sri-Lankan slowly sink in while every fiber of my interior being is screaming NO, DON'T GO, SRI-LANKAN FOOD IS FOR DINNER OR AT LEAST AFTER 4. DON'T DO IT YOU'LL REGRET IT IT'S WRONG DON'T GO, then I shrug and say Sure, let's go. (Part Two tomorrow....)
(MIA is from Sri Lanka and so is my friend Oshadi)