I read in the Saturday paper that an artist has started a sideline of delivering a duplicate of the last meal ordered by the prisoner of your choice on death row just prior to execution. Apparently, thus far, he has had a dozen takers. (An interesting number, it suddenly occurs to me.) He provides this service for $20.00. He says it isn’t a money making proposition.
It’s always interesting to hear the philosophical underpinnings to people’s actions. The artist says this isn’t about food. He says it’s about how a glazed doughnut can make you think about your own mortality or about moral issues like the death penalty. There can be no substitutions. He says his clients consist primarily of “young, white, educated men.” He has delivered to diverse areas of the city – from public housing to the equivalent of Georgetown or the Upper East Side.
There is a meal that I have always thought of as my last supper. It was served to me, ironically, by my boyfriend’s mother who ran a diner and did not know I was pregnant by her son at the time. I don’t recall specifically why I ended up having this meal but I remember exactly what it was – a hot roast beef sandwich. I can see myself eating it as I write this, feeling very much like a condemned man. I suspect I asked for something to eat because I was trying to delay what was going to happen next. After a long talk and drive in the country, my boyfriend and I were going to tell my parents that I was pregnant.
I wonder now as I write about this – I have never told anybody about that meal before – why I didn’t blurt out the truth to my son’s grandmother as she served me that sandwich. She and I got on well. I always thought she liked me a lot. She met my mother on the street one day after I had had my son and expressed sorrow that her son and I had broken up because she always thought we would get married. We had been going out for almost four years.
My mother, of course, said nothing about me being pregnant.
I wonder if I had told his mother that day of the roast beef sandwich if she might have been my last minute appeal to the governor – the reprieve. She might have had a different attitude than my parents. But I didn’t. It didn’t even occur to me so much had I bought into, I hesitate to write shame but I think that’s what it was – the shame of my(?) predicament.
My boyfriend and I went on to tell first, my father who came out to the car. I had the impression my boyfriend could not turn me over to the folks fast enough. Then my father and I went in to tell my mother. It didn’t go well. There was much screaming. Accusations. Nasty words used to describe me. I remember my dog giving me a lick and being very concerned as I sat there crying. Dogs – a lesson in unconditional love.
My boyfriend’s mother never met my son. Sadly she died, at a relatively young age, before I found him. Too bad because I think she would have liked him a lot and would have been quite happy to learn of his existence.
A few years ago, just before the trouble in our relationship suddenly started, I travelled across the country to visit my son. We had a wonderful time. He told me he instructed his girlfriend to only say good things about him. He cooked dinner for me. He showed me projects he had done to make their apartment better. He took me to a secret place in the woods that he liked to visit when he was walking his dogs. He took me to a place in the country where he hoped to buy property one day. He introduced me to his business associates as his Mom. We celebrated the 18th anniversary of the day we met in a beautiful restaurant with a magnificent view of the Pacific.
His girlfriend and I went on a girls’ road trip to a resort about an hour away. We had lunch and she kept telling me it was so strange to look at me because it was his eyes looking back at her. He told me later she said she felt much more comfortable with me than his adoptive parents.
The day I left, as we said good-bye, I was determined not to cry because I worried I might not stop. But he did, he had tears in his eyes. We clung to each other in a final hug.
I talked to him many times but only saw him one more time after that. He stopped in on his way home from Europe. He brought my daughter a beautiful outfit. He took the three of us, me, husband, daughter, out to dinner. About 6 months later, the trouble started.
I can’t remember what I ate that that Sunday night he took us out but I hope it was not our last supper together.
I would pay way more than twenty dollars to sit down to that meal with him again.