“What is Vern making?” He plunked a grocery sack on our table. Sacks were always paper back then.
The retired prison guard was childless, older than mom. “Banana cream pie,” his deadpan reply. His Hitchcockian face paired with low, monotone voice was often pretty creepy.
Hhhmmm. For once Vern, who was good for buying restaurant meals and dispensing unwanted ‘fatherly’ instruction, piqued my curiosity.
What could go wrong with banana cream pie?
Ready made graham pie crusts – check. Bananas – check. Cool Whip – check. What followed solidified my disdain. He set a pre-made crust in front of him. Sliced chubby coins of banana piled onto the crust, naked and ready to receive…Cool Whip! That’s right, Cool Whip!
“There you go,” Vern said. “Where is the pudding?!?” The words almost stuck in my throat. You don’t tease a girl about pudding. “WHAT IS THAT?” I might have cried a little.
Mom’s skepticism deferred to normalizing whatever Vern did. No help came from her quarter. She was supportive of the old, grumpy, tattooed man who believed that he could replace my father.
“This is how you make a banana cream pie. I made them like this all the time in the army.” Ugh. Was he serious? And the soldiers didn’t mob you and leave you for dead?
My cynical teen mind was quick to find fault, however. Vern really met my lowest expectations of him that day.
At least he didn’t add, “If I were a few years younger, I’d go for you myself!”. No 14-year-old girl wants to hear that! It was Vern’s way, I guess, of boosting my frail confidence. EEEeewwwww!
Vern died many years ago in the company of a new girlfriend. Rest in peace, Vern. Enjoy those banana cream pies.
photo by Slice of Chic