Posted by: Kate | July 18, 2008

Liver Lovers Party

“Get your shoes on,” my father would announce.  “It’s almost time to leave.”

Gratefully and with alacrity, I would meet him at the door.  The only times that my father and I ever routinely left the house without my mother were on these occasional Saturday nights.  She would host “Liver Lovers Parties,” whereby she cooked up an enormous pan of liver and onions, plus disturbing green sides and a heavy red wine, which all created an unbearable stench throughout the house.  She would invite several of her girlfriends for an evening in.

We couldn’t escape fast enough.

My dad and I would drive off in our secondhand sedan, with me in the front seat because this was back in the day when airbags didn’t threaten the very existence of small children everywhere.  We would stop at the gas station to fill up the tank and buy a package of “Hubba Bubba,” a special treat because Mom didn’t like it when I chewed gum.  (The smacked lips, the popped bubbles, the swallowed wads of plastic… what’s not to like?)  I would help pump the gas, a task whose thrill has faded with practice.  To this day, I associate the smell of gasoline with that sweet, fake pink taste and can still picture my father’s hands closing over mine on the handle.

From there, jaws working like cows’, we would head over to McDonalds for something unhealthy and with more calories than my eight-year-old body consumed in a typical week.  But these were mere stopovers on the way to the ultimate destination: The Video Arcade.

This was in the early-to-mid-’80s, when video games had taken a big step beyond PONG but were not yet graphically violent or disturbing.  There was a naïveté to the glazed-over stares and quarter-dispensing mania of the gamers, as though they’d be fully prepared if dropped into a Q*Bert world of squares and falling bits but would be mindlessly paralyzed if faced with an actual threat of violence.

We spent hours there, mostly with him playing and me watching, because he could stretch a single quarter into a night’s entertainment on Galaga, while I worked through several dollars in the space of mere moments.  There wasn’t a lot of interaction between us, but it was bonding nonetheless.

By the time we got home, the house would be cleaned up and mostly empty, and I would drift off to an overstimulated, sugar-crash-induced sleep. 

Once, after the Liver Lovers Parties had been going on for a few years, I decided I wanted to stay home and see what all the fuss was about.  It turns out that, for the most part, the women would pick at their meals, scrape the remains into the trash, and gorge on my mother’s homemade chocolate mousse while indulging in an orgy of girl talk and kvetching.  I liked the mousse, but the rest just didn’t hold enough charm for me at that age, so after that I continued to opt for the video arcade instead. 

It wasn’t until years later that I fully appreciated her genius in getting my father and I out of the house for an evening.

Grateful acknowledgement to Tara for the topic inspiration.


  1. Haha Liver Lovers Parties! I’m surprised she ever got anyone to attend! I had a friend whose mother used to boil beef hearts for the dog and the smell was gagworthy. At least you had those ‘bonding’ moments with your Dad . . .and the guilty pleasures of bubble gum and Macdonalds . . .must remember that tactic, cook something nobody likes to empty the house and invite over the girls. Brilliant.

  2. My mom always waited until my dad went out of town on business and then would cook up liver, she knew he wouldn’t eat it. she would then force us to join her for dinner. Neither my sister or would/could eat the stuff and to get just a couple bites down it was drowning in 1/2 a bottle of ketchup. UGH! I stll feel the gag reflex working just thinking of it. She would get angry at us for not eating our dinner and then we would sit for hours at the table, quietly slipping it through the floor vent to our basement. Once she released us we would rush downstairs and clean up exiting through the cellar to the yard giving our scraps to the dogs or hiding it under the garden.

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