Roast Beef and Whipped Potatoes
Frank was back in our life, after he had married Kay Sherman, and got divorced from her. And his parents were invited over for dinner at our house. Did I tell you that? I had a hard time remembering Mrs. Zappa's name, and for many years, because this was so very long ago but her name was "Rosemarie" (just like the name of or a character in a comedy show on tv at that time). This was an awkward visit, for both the senior Zappas, and my parents, because they were meeting for the first time ... And anyway I was well bred, and had proper manners, so they were "Mr. and Mrs. Zappa" until such time as I was advised by them I could call them by a more familiar name, which never happened .... An awkward visit, a young man, a possible suitor, being invited over for dinner at his girlfriend's house (that "girlfriend" was my sister, to clarify).
I had practiced card tricks off and on throughout my childhood. I'd graduated from fifty-two card pickup (when I sprayed the room with a deck of cards), to building what I thought was a rather complex house of cards as a child on the dining room table in the long afternoon heat of the summer that would remain suspended until I steeled myself and returned with sufficient nerve to drop another "roof on a room" ... I'd practiced a bit with cards and card tricks to alleviate summer boredom, and I was moderately good at some sleights of hand. Some card tricks I did learn then were so complex I don't believe I could even recreate one for you now, and I'd encouraged my sister to do one of those to impress the Zappa père
. Though I don't believe she did.
I entertained the Zappas with my "card trick". I pretended I was a psychic and could "tell the card they were holding after I dealt them out". So I had a pack of cards, and I was shuffling, and I threw money on the table like we were gambling, and had a dollar bill in front of each of them (I got an allowance for weeding at home and mowing a neighbor's lawn once in a great while) ... and I'd deal them some cards. And as I did so I went into the "psychic" routine I had worked on like these were fortune telling cards ... and then I gathered up the dollar bills and put one of them in front of each one of us, and stared at them as I got the "vibes" from the universe. Then I'd scoop up the bills, 3 one dollar bills, and hold them like cards and say to Mr. Zappa: "pick a card....any card" (and dramatically hold my hands across my eyes so I couldn't in any way cheat or peak and spoil the trick) which he would do. And I would still have my hand over my eyes, and I would say "It's the one!" And everybody would kind of snicker a bit, which I enjoyed immensely.
And I blathered on about a fellow I had gone to meet in Hollywood (Mark Damon, remember him? Did I mention him yet and his book under his real name on how to beat the system in Las Vegas ... I can't remember the name of that book now ... ) so I mentioned that book and how he had mathematically figured out how to win a little dough in big bad Vegas despite all the gangsters standing around waiting to steal your money from you in the parking lot on your way out to the car with your winnings.
Blah blah blah blah blah ... I could go on, and then it was time for dinner and my mother to try to act friendly while being a bit pretentious and yet maintain an air of being very well-mannered and properly brought up but in a homey intimate way. And ... that was dinner with the Zappas. The part I remember at least.