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Bonzer Words!: M.O.M.

Brenda Bryant tells a tale with a satisfying conclusion.

It wasn't as though he didn't love them! He was as dutiful a son as he was able to be, but his heart wasn't in it. The restaurant had been called 'Mom-n-Pop's' in the early days. His parents had emigrated from Italy to New York, bringing with them all the old family recipes. Guests would sit over coffee, hours after the meal was finished, laughing, smoking and guessing the ingredients. Dino's parents were in their element, but their son hated every minute of it.

He was a studious boy, born, an only son, into a family which favoured hard work over study.

'Don't waste your time on Book Learning,' Pop would say.

'How about if I studied part-time?' Dino said. 'I want to be a Geologist.'

'University!' his father guffawed. 'Who ever heard of a restaurant owner needing a degree!'

Finally, his parents agreed that he could study part-time, provided he fulfilled all his restaurant duties.

'You'll forget all about rocks and stones when we leave you a thriving business, son,' they said.

Dino was half-way through his course when 'Mom-n-Pops' became just 'Moms'. Dino's father died, suddenly, of a heart-attack. Dino was devastated, of course.. But his grief was as nothing compared to his Mother's. She collapsed completely, unable to attend to her duties, spending a lot of time in her bedroom, weeping. There was nothing Dino could do, but take-over the running of the restaurant: full time.

Dino's Mother recovered. One day she emerged from her solitude and the first thing she asked Dino to do was to remove all mention of her deceased husband's name from the sign over the door.

'Every time I see that name ... Pop ... I go to pieces!' she said.

So 'Mom's' was the new name of the restaurant. Dino returned to his studies but now far more responsibilities came his way. He never complained, but he was constantly tired. The time came for the final examinations. Dino failed, dismally.

He decided that it was useless for him to pursue his old ambitions, and, like many others before him, he resigned himself to a life of second best. As a good Italian son he rejoiced in his Mother's new-found peace-of-mind, and between them they ran 'Mom's' to perfection. The years passed; the restaurant grew famous. 'Eat at Mom's' became the catch-cry.

Dino was fifty years old when his mother died. On her death-bed she looked up at him and said. 'Now I die happy in the knowledge that you will carry on the family tradition. Promise me that the restaurant will go from strength to strength.'

'I promise, Mama Mia' said Dino. His Mother died with a smile on her lips. And Dino's heart felt like a stone in his chest.

For a while he struggled on. A young man called Leo came and helped him in the restaurant and, for a while, all went well. Dino's interest in Geology had never waned, however. He began to bring text-books into the kitchen; they soon became stained with tomato sauce. He set-up a television set in a corner where he could watch documentaries about The Universe, while he was serving his guests. The standard of cooking dropped lower and lower. Dino was keeping his promise to his mother but 'Mom's' was no longer a by-word for excellence. Instead one day, while at the shops, he overheard 'Never Eat at a place called Mom's'.

Then he had a brainwave. He made some simple fliers. Written on them were the words—

Want to be surrounded by like-minds? Want free access to computers? Want a good strong coffee and a slice of cake? Come to 'Moms'.

He delivered dozens of these fliers to the university.

'Mom's' became an immediate success with the students! All day, all night young men with long hair and young ladies with spectacles, devoured his cheap coffee and cake and talked deep into the night.

But, one day, Dino received a visit from the Small Business Inspector.

The tables were strewn with books and magazines, the plates were unwashed, the table-cloths were scribbled upon, the computers were fully-occupied with earnest young students, and the TV was showing a film about Black Holes.

'Don't you realize,' said Fred Carlton, sternly, 'that you are contravening the Trade Practices Act! The name 'Mom' denotes a homely, wholesome atmosphere and good cooking. What can you say to justify this ... shambles?'

'Ah!' said Dino, smiling. 'M.O.M. means, in my case, MIND OVER MATTER.'

© Brenda Bryant


Brenda writes for Bonzer! magazine. Plerase visit www.bonzer.org.au


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