Friday, August 26, 2016

Flashback Friday: What's for Dinner?

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It's Flashback Friday--a fun blog-hop that's a break for bloggers and a chance to give something from long ago another airing. Click on the image above to check out the hop and find the list of participants. I hunted through the archives for a story to re-share. I couldn't remember this one from May 2014, but it made me smile when I re-read it, so here you go. It's short--only about 700 words.

What’s for Dinner?


Mom’s acting weird.  Well, that’s kind of normal, if you follow me, because she’s always weird, but usually she’s weird like wearing strange clothes and working all night on one of those bizarre sculptures she makes.  I won’t ever tell her this, but I don’t like them.  They have too many jagged edges.  They’ll tear holes in you if you get too close.  I sometimes wonder if she’s out to destroy someone, or if she just sees the world that way, all jagged.  Either way: weird.

But what’s really weird is that she’s started cooking.  No more Swanson’s pot pies, and no more trips through the fast food drive-through window.  So now, I have to eat what she calls “real food,” which is sometimes pretty unreal, if you follow me.

The thing is, her idea of real food can get pretty disturbing.  And that’s why I am sitting at the kitchen table doing my homework, instead of in my room with my music.  I’m keeping an eye on the cooking, between algebra problems.  I’m watching for that moment that says she’s gone over the edge, so I can try to save the rest of us.

She’s put on a big pot of water to boil.  That seems pretty safe, so I turn back to my math book.  6x + 7y=23.  If y=2, what is x?  Okay, algebra’s weird, too.  What do I care what X equals?  I can see at a glance that it’s not going to be a nice round number.  I don’t like decimals.  They’re messy.  And I need some kind of motivation for X, if I’m going to care why it’s multiplying six.

Pasta.  She’s gotten out the spaghetti, which is good, and matches the pot of water.  But a lot depends on what she wants to put atop it.  My palms start to sweat as she begins pulling things off of shelves and muttering.  She’s got an awful pile of weird stuff: ginger and allspice and beans, and for some reason a bottle of pickled pigs feet.  And is that an incantation she’s muttering?  We have never in our lives eaten pickled pigs feet, and I do not intend to begin now.  I forget all about algebra and concentrate on willing the bottle to disappear.

She puts the first cupboard load back on the shelves, and I heave a sigh of relief when the pigs feet disappear.  Then the search starts all over, and I start to sweat again.  What is that green stuff?  And is it supposed to be green, or is that a very bad sign?

Mom does the search three times, and I can’t tell what she’s selected.  By the third shelf of the third cupboard, I’m a nervous wreck, and algebra is a distant memory.  Anyway, I’m pretty sure this is the night she poisons us all, and I can only wonder if it will be on purpose or just because she let her artist’s imagination get loose.  But if I’m poisoned, I won’t have to turn in my homework, so I don’t hurry.

I start to pray.  I’m not religious, but when we studied world religions last fall, my best friend Griffin and I memorized prayers from every one of them, mostly in languages we don’t understand.  We made up a couple of our own, too, in the elf language J. R. R. Tolkien invented for The Lord of the Rings.  I repeat them all now.  Maybe at least one of the gods will appreciate the attention and save me.  And Dad and my sister, though by this time I’m thinking mostly of myself.

Mom plops the big pasta bowl onto the table, interrupting my prayers and scattering my algebra.

 I stare into the bowl, horrified.  It’s green.  Radioactive waste is green, isn’t it?  Or ectoplasm, or space aliens.  And mold.  Mold is green.

“Eat up,” Mom says.  “Come and get it,” she calls to Dad and Lily.

My hands are shaking.  We who are about to die. .  .

“It’s just pesto, for heaven’s sake Joseph!”

I sag in relief.  Pesto’s bad, but it’s better than interplanetary ecto-slime. 

Rats.  I’ll have to finish my homework after all.

###
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2014
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14 comments:

  1. I don't remember this either - and it made me giggle!!

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    1. Turn about's fair play! You gave us Sir Woebegone :)

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  2. Great story! I didn't get algebra either. All that studying and I can't think of a single day since that I've needed to use it in everyday life :-)

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    1. Basic algebra comes up now and again, in cooking or sewing or carpentry. The time I spent studying calculus was wasted except as brain training--one of the few things I studied that was really hard for me, so probably pretty valuable in it's own way.

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  3. Ah, Math in any form is like a soothing tonic to me. I took so much math in HS that I nearly majored in it in college. However, that is a story for another time. This Pesto thing is not something I like much. Give me a cream sauce, or a red sauce, with some sort of meat, seafood or pork preferably. Pigs feet are better than chicken feet.

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    1. I like pesto! I don't think I've eaten either pig's or chicken's feet.

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  4. I made some leftover and what's-in-the-cupboard spaghetti last night so I had to laugh at this one.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I do a lot of fridgie stir-fry. These ideas don't come from nowhere :D

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  5. Pesto beats interplanetary ecto-slime every time. Personally I prefer red pesto to green. Can you remember how to do algebra? I can't.

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    1. I can remember basic algebra. Nothing fancy, and the general quadratic equation has vanished in the mists of time. But I could solve the equation in the story.

      I've never had interplanetary ecto-slime. So I can't judge if I'd like it.

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  6. This is funny. I like pesto but I have seen someone try to make it and it came out like slime. Didn't consider the possibility of ecto-slime.

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    1. See, that's the thing. When you are a kid, you MUST pay attention to those possibilities. You never know what a mom my try to put over on you!

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  7. That's cute! A great interpretation of the way many kids view their parents :)

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