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Deixa-Me Em Pax (Leave Me in Peace)

Actual reenactment of Hank rejecting the 8th grade advances if set in 1813.

Actual 1813 literary reenactment of Hank rejecting the 8th grade girls advances.

 

Me: (opening the front door) He’s home!

Hank: (defeated, exhausted) Hi mom.

Me: How was your day?

Hank: (slumping into the house, shedding his coat, backpack, pulling his sweater over his head) Long.

Me: Today was your first full day; 8:30-5:30 is a rough schedule.

Hank: Like an adult at work, but we had three 15 breaks and lunch was an hour and a half. I really like lunch at my school and I found there is a supply store.

Me: Oh yah?

Hank: It’s so good mom. I went ahead and got my sheet music note book and another notebook I found out I needed today for only €0.40 each.

Me: Whoa, savvy shopper!

Hank: Right! From now on I will get my stationary (school supplies) there except for my pens because you know I have brand loyalty.

Me: Word. Can I get you a snack? Dinner isn’t for another hour and a half.

Hank: I would love a fresh (cold) glass of water. I am dehydrated.

Me: Coming right up.

Hank: (slumping on the kitchen step stool) Mama, something weird happened when I was buying my notebooks.

Me: Oh?

Hank: When I was at the counter talking to the funcionária (school assistant) these 8th grade girls walk in and came up to me and said I was cute.

Me: Oh, honey that can happen when you get to your new school because now you are the little kids and not the big kids anymore.

Hank: No, mom, you don’t understand. They didn’t call me fofinho (cute, fluffy) or engraçado (sweet) they saw me and said tão giro (very cute, as in hot, as in kissable).

Me: Well… that’s new. (handing him his water) Is this the first time anyone has ever called you giro (hot).

Hank: Yes.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Hank: Weird. It was all very weird. I was like trying to buy notebooks and they were all, “Olha para ele! Olha!”(Look at him! Look!) Now I know how girls feel when men um… how do you say it when a man flirts, but like when he does it and it is too strong or not wanted or gross?

Me: Objectify, to be Objectified.

Hank: Yes! I get that feeling now because they were, like, looking at me. You know?

Me: I know the feeling. What did you do? Did you say anything?

Hank: (taking a long drink of his water) Yah, of course. I didn’t say anything funny or anything. I mean life isn’t a show on Fox Comedy, but I rolled my eyes because I thought it was the right occasion for it and said, “Deixa-me en pax, se faz favor.” (Leave me in peace, please)

Me: (slapping my hand over my mouth to stifle riots of laughter)

Hank: What?! MOM!

Me: (shaking my head no, swallowing all emotion, failing miserably)

Hank: Was that the wrong thing to say? (suddenly awash in worry) Oh gawd.

Me: No, Hank. Ignore me. Seriously, I wasn’t prepared for this conversation quite yet. (gaining my composure) That was the absolute perfect thing to say.

Hank: Well, it worked. They didn’t bother me again for the rest of the day and my friends, who happen to be girls, said it was the right thing to do.

Me: I agree. Well played.

Hank: I am just not into all the drama of dating an older girl, ya’ know? (jumping off the step stool, handing me his glass, inspecting the fruit bowl, selecting an apple, taking a large bite and walking out of the kitchen)

Me: HA! Don’t rule out that Fox Comedy gig, buddy. (chuckling) Your timing is impeccable. (taking his glass to the sink, shaking my head) On point!

 

 

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You Can Lean A Lot Over a Spaghetti Dinner

 

Me: Is everyone finished with their soup?

Hank: I am! I am so excited for the masa (pasta). Did you make the sauce?

Me: Claro (of course).

Pai: (spoon feeding Molly the last of her soup) Your mama’s pasta sauce is the best.

Hank: So are her meatballs.

Me: No, meatballs tonight, I’m afraid. I love that we are cutting down on meat-eating in this house. Saving both money and…

Hank: The planet.

Me: True story.

Hank: Didn’t you eat a lot of masa (pasta) when you were a vegetarian.

Me: Soooooo much pasta, but I was lazy and used canned sauce.

Hank: That is lazy.

Me: When I first moved to Portugal I remember going to the grocery with my dictionary and after searching ever single isle working up the courage to ask where they sold the pasta sauce and, no joke, the woman at the grocery took me to the produce section handed me tomato, onion and garlic and explained rather slowly and with exaggerated gestures that I was to take these vegetables, added salt, olive oil, cook and then blend and I would have sauce.

Hank: Right.

Pai: But that wasn’t what she asked for. (dishing out Molly’s dinner)

Molly: MASSINHA!!! (cute pasta)

Me: I didn’t want a cooking class I wanted my life to be convenient like in America where I just open a jar and BAM dinner.

Pai: Ten years ago you could barely find a frozen pizza let alone jarred sauces and pre-cooked factory foods in Portugal.

Hank: Things are changing, but not at my school. The cozinheiras (cooks) at my new school make the best food. It is all fresh and so good.

Me: One of the main reasons we decided to raise you here. Did I ever tell you about the time I went to my first fancy restaurant spaghetti dinner?

Hank: Um… (taking the opportunity slurp pasta into his mouth)

Pai: This story is a classic.

Me: When we still lived in Illinois my grandmother called and informed my mother that she wanted to treat us all to DeRienzo’s for a spaghetti dinner on our upcoming Ohio visit. Now, you have to remember my Grandma Hof was super fancy. She was the town’s music teacher and the presbyterian choir director so she was fancy annnnnnnd she had a reputation for being fancy, so we wild children simply could not go to DeRienzo’s and slurp our spaghetti, not in public, no way so my mom had to give us spaghetti twirling lessons.

Hank: Oh yah! You had to learn to spin the spaghetti on a spoon.

Me: We did and we all worked very hard because my mom promised us that we could have meatballs which were as big as a softball…

Hank: What is a softball?

Me: (eyes wide in shock)

Pai: Your son is European.

Me: (deep sigh) A softball is like a baseball…

Hank: (still no clue)

Me: Only bigger (gesturing the size so he finally understands the reference).

Hank: Those were some big meatballs.

Me: You only ordered a few for the table and everyone shared and the bread was fresh and pillowy and my grandmother charmed the waitress into giving her a to-go cup full of their poppy seed salad dressing and we kids twirled our spaghetti on our spoons and tried our best to be as fancy as my Gram.

Hank: Can we go there?

Me: Absolutely, next time we’re in America and if you can twirl your spaghetti I will buy you a Shirley Temple from the bar.

Hank: What is a Shirley Temple?

Pai: It’s a mock-tail.

Hank: Ohhhh.

Me: My parents would never let me order a Shirley Temple, but when I used to go to the Golf Club with my friend, Quinn, for dinner her parents would order us both a Shirley Temple from the bar and it was just the greatest.

Pai: Seriously, at a golf club?

Me: Yup, at the Salem Country Club. You had to be a member.

Pai: Like in the movies?

Me: Exactly like in the movies.

Pai: Now, I am excited.

Me: DeRienzo’s had a separate bar from the dinning room and a backlight, clam shell, mid-century modern, Botticelli Birth of goddamn Venus phone booth annnnnnnd wooooood paneling.

Pai: Classy.

Hank: I don’t know what that is, but let’s get on a plane right now!

Me: I will invite Quinn and all your Ohio family, but you’re gonna have to learn how to twirl your spaghetti on your spoon. We Hofmeisters have a reputation to uphold.

Pai: You realize, Hank, that Italians don’t swirl their pasta on spoons before they eat it.

Hank: Then why…

Pai: The only place I ever saw people twirling their pasta on spoons was in Germany and you are ¼ German.

Hank: WHAT? (hand to his chest shocked) I’m German.

Pai: ¼ German, 1/4 British Isles and 1/2 Portuguese.

Me: My parent’s family lineages come from German and the countries that make up the UK and probably Ireland, but I’m not sure and they all settled in the Midwest as immigrants to America, so we are culturally American, but genetically European.

Hank: Riiiiiight, because you aren’t Native American. They’re the only American Americans because they are the people of the first nation.

Pai: Exactly.

Hank: So mom, you ate pasta like Germans in an Italian restaurant in America?

Me: And well, if we’re being culturally specific, DeRienzo’s serves an Americanized version of Italian food; meatballs are strictly an Italian-American thing.

Hank: (mind blown) What?!

Pai: I also never saw a meatball in Italy.

Hank: I don’t know what to do with my life now!

Me: (riots of laughter)

Pai: You’ll get over it.

Molly: (slathered in tomato sauce, oblivious, slurping up pasta strand by strand)

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Our Hank, A Man of Little Years.

conversations with hank

Me: (barely awake, bed head, eyes not even open) Good morning, Hank.

Hank: (chipper as a squirrel, fully dressed, hair done, breakfast of an egg over easy and toast made by himself already eaten) Good morning, mama!

Me: (audible groan)

Hank: Mama, I am watching a YouTube video about if New York City apartments are worth it at their price. They go to three apartments and the first one was so cute. She only pays $1,700 a month.

Me: Jesus and the Mary Chain!

Hank: But MOM it’s New York City.

Me: I don’t think my heart can take this conversation before coffee.

Hank: The girl said she could barely afford her apartment, but that she felt it was totally worth it.

Me: (rubbing the sleep from my eyes) The average rent in Lisbon is now €850.

Hank: Yes, but mom, it’s Lisbon.

Me: (super sassy because this conversation is hurting my soul) Yes, but Hank the average rent in Lisbon has increased dramatically. When we moved here in 2010 you could get a two bedroom apartment for around €600. The average rent for an apartment close to the university in Guimarães is about that!

Hank: Oh.

Me: Yah… And speaking of rents and moving. (yawn) I am considering letting you move into the guest room sooner than we originally agreed.

Hank: WHAT?!

Me: With the caveat that when we have a guest you go right back into your old room.

Hank: But why? I mean, I thought I had to wait until I was thirteen.

Me: Originally, yes. I adore your sister, but you two are completely different people and she talks and sings for a full hour or more before she finally settles down. It’s hard for your papa and I a room away, but I can only imagine how hard it is for you when you want to sleep.

Hank: (giggles) Yah, she does go on and on and on.

Me: I am still thinking about it, but after the holidays if she doesn’t settle down more then I think we should give you your own space.

Hank: (thinking rather loudly)

Me: (desperate for coffee)

Hank:

Me:

Hank: Mama, I don’t think I’m ready.

Me: (listening)

Hank: I think I should stay in our shared room for a while longer. My sister needs me and I want to be there for her when we turn her crib into a bed and really I don’t mind her singing, it doesn’t really keep me up, and maybe we can try and get her to bed earlier than me? I can get ready for bed with her like we do now, but then we three can put her to bed and I can read or watch my novella (soap opera) and she can fall asleep and then I can creep in quietly later.

Me: Also very smart and thoughtful suggestions.

Hank: Trust me, I WANT to move into the guest room that is my dream, but I’m just not ready for that dream to come true yet.

Me: (impressed) Noted.

Molly: (from their shared bedroom as if she knew we were talking about her) Mano (brother)? Maaannnooo (brother)?

Me: Oofta! Someone’s awake already? (looking at my bare wrist where my watch would be later because: no coffee)

Hank: Can I go and get her?

Me: By all means.

Hank: (dashes off)

Molly: (sing-songy) Mano?

Hank: Good morning, little chicken!

Molly: Chicken mano (brother)!

Hank: Are you ready to get up?

Molly: SIM (YES)!

Hank: Okay, here we go! One… Two…

Molly: Freeeee!

(Enjoy a parody tutorial/advice video from, Bumba na Fofina, a Portuguese comedian from Lisbon who also laments the current housing prices)