Monday, January 30, 2023

Yahoo rancheroo!

ME BUCKAROOS! Whatever I dreamt last night
had this bunch rolling in the bedroom aisles.
It's been a year to the day that my older brother Ed died. 

Although the following might strike you as callous, this very morning -- the anniversary of Ed's death -- I woke up laughing like a stoned teenager. 


From a deep sleep to laughing out loud. Drives people around you crazy when it happens, but to me, waking up laughing is magical.

I also know Ed would approve. Especially after I tell you why.

Yesterday, my wife Helena and I went for breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe, about three blocks from our house. 

I like everything about the Sunrise. I've never had better Eggs Benedict. 

One of the first times there, I was with a sales guy named Emerson and when the server asked what we wanted I pointed to the specials and said "I'm really curious about this 'Surprise breakfast.' What is it?" 

Immediately and as if she had rehearsed, she was like, "The surprise is, you're dyslexic. It's Sunrise breakfast." 

Back to yesterday. 

Sunrise tables are close together. 

Less than two feet to the east of me and Helena sat a pair of six-foot-tall-with-football-player-shoulders guys who looked like they were in their early 50s. Or 20s. I can't tell. They were fair haired, they slouched over the table the same way and wore similar glasses. 

They were speaking softly but at one point I heard the one closest to me go, "well, I wouldn't want to climb on a motorcycle if I had jet lag."

I kept quiet. Hard to believe, I know.

A few moments after I started eating my "Mexican Scrambled Eggs," our server, Lindsay, arrived with an unusual plate of something for the motorcycle guy. His tablemate asked him what was in it.

He responded. "Eggs, cheese, chilis, some other stuff and ranchero sauce." Except--and this is important--he pronounced it "rancheroo."


His friend, slowly: "I think (pause) it's (pause) ran-chair-oh." The guy realized his goof; they laughed. I liked these two.

I had to talk. 

I asked if it was their first time at the Sunrise. The not-the-motorbike man: "No. My brother and I have been coming a long time. We found it one New Year's morning. We were both hung over and just dropped in and been coming back ever since." I liked them more.

Me: "I gotta tell you; my brother died a year ago right now and I miss him like crazy. Just please never forget how lucky you are to have a brother to get hung over with and go to restaurants with." (I'm not griping here. I'm still spoiled and lucky to my brother Alex and four sisters Charlene, Norma, Bertholde and Mary still around. But Ed lived in Toronto and we hung out A LOT. From the time I was born.)

The cafe boys both said they were sorry about my loss and agreed they were fortunate. You know how you can tell sincere gratitude from the fake kind? These brothers were the real thing.

The conversation moved along, to growing up, travelling, motorcycles. They both ride. 

I said Ed never got his licence but sometimes rode on the back of mine, adding "we probably looked like a couple of cartoon characters."

'Til finally, I couldn't take it any longer. I had to ask. "Did I hear you (pause) um, say (pause) rancheroo?"

He laughed and was like, "I know, right?"

TOM, LAUGHING WITH HIS WIFE, HUENA : Not sure if he ever woke up laughing but I think he
went to bed that way. Frequently, I'd wager.

I said "It sounds like a kids' favourite, I dunno, candy." 

We're all laughing now. 

Me, in a little-boy voice: "Daddy daddy can we get some rancheroos?"

By the way, this talk of dads brings me to another question--one I find myself asking a lot these days. 

I am now the same age as my dad, Tom, was when I was in university. Did Tom do stuff like this? Did he ever wake up laughing and think, "I can hardly wait to tell everybody about my stupid dream?" 

He, too, had an older brother Ed who died too soon. So many many things I don't know about my own father. I've interviewed thousands of people, but never him. I feel another blog coming on...

Meanwhile, back at the Sunrise Cafe.

Lindsay delivered the bills; the boys said, "sorry about your brother" again, we all shook hands and left.  

Later, around dinnertime, I was trying to recall exactly how events in the restaurant had unfolded, but--and this will sound weird-- I had forgotten the most important word. 

Only six hours had passed, and whatever it was we were laughing about completely eluded me. Was it fava beans? Quacamole? Nacho? Warned you it was strange.

I went to bed.

Then, and I know because I have a digital alarm clock beside my bed, at exactly 5:48 a.m.,"rancheroo" weaseled its way into a dream starring my dad, my brothers Pat, Ed, Alex, Tom, and me. I forget what I was telling them but rancheroo got in there, it was hilarious and I woke up laughing. 

Ed would approve. In fact he had told me that he, too, over the years woke up that way sometimes. It's a gift.

I wonder if it ever happened to my dad. I hope so.


  1. This made me wake up smiling…. Thank you! Margie Wickie-Raskevicius

  2. I love that picture of nana and grandad when I was sick I ended up having a terrible anxiety attack in my sleep and nana and and I had a dream with nana in it and I woke up laughing I have no idea what she told me but it was funny.

  3. "So many many things I don't know about my own father. I've interviewed thousands of people, but never him."

    This is how I feel about my dad, too. He was 33 when I came along, so he pretty much lived an entire life before I was born, and I don't know much about it since he didn't talk much about his life. Although I did interview him, once. I was in grade four and doing a school project on someone we admired.