Meet Snowy, my (stuffed) spirit animal...Read More
i’m unsure how old i was when this happened and when i question my parents they give answers like, “it was just last summer, don’t you remember?”
so, once upon a time, when i was a couple years old, mom sent me and my dad out of the house and i ended up winning a race. i remember seeing my dad looking like an original hipster, on the far (but realistically probably not that far) side of the local park.
then a bit of crawling, and the next thing i knew i was being held up like a trophy baby, vaguely aware that i’d won the race, whatever that meant.
ensconced once again in my stroller/winner’s-throne-on-wheels, i was allowed to choose a prize from an opaque white garbage bag. (yes, i ran with a fancy crew)
but when i pulled the bag down to peer inside and inspect the loot before making a commitment, like any self-respecting victor, the lady holding the bag said, “nu-uh” and held it up. “just put your hand in and pick something. no peeking. we have to be fair.”
not even my two-year-old self believed this comment. ‘you just judged and ranked children based on how fast they could crawl across a field and you’re talking to me about fairness? this shit is whack.’
or, you know. the toddler version. but i was definitely unimpressed.
which is how i ended up with a plush chicken puppet. it was a little cuter than it sounds.
american cheese was the holy grail of my childhood.
but to my Italian mom it was all but the food of barbarians. we always had provolone and aging parmiggiano. in retrospect i appreciate her protection from that mystery substance, but at the time its forbidden status just increased its appeal.
eventually i persuaded her to buy the offensive item. self satisfied, 8-year-old me got the cheese from the fridge and regarded the creamy white, too thick slices of god-knows-what on waxed deli paper. then i had a brilliant idea.
instead of peeling back one slice, as one does in modern society, why not bite into the entire stack, so every piece would have the outline of my teeth?
logic was not my childhood strong suit. i recall wanting to see how it would look. or maybe i thought that was how the barbarians did it.
it’s safe to say there was no clear end game. the entire incident should be filed under the rubric “dumb stuff kids do.”
and why did i get cocky and risk everything? alas, we may never learn the answer. plus, my verdict disappointed: not as good as individual slices.
i re-wrapped the cheese and returned it to the fridge. what on earth was i thinking, they’ll never know? uh, yeah they will.
it wasn’t long before my mom discovered the cheese—probably when she went to make my lunch for the following day—and called my dad and me into the kitchen for a public hearing.
my mom presented the cheese, and the three of us stood there, staring at the perfectly, impossibly, white squares and their missing, 8-year-old-mouth-sized bite.
“do you know what this means?” my mother asked. was it rhetorical? wasn’t it? i never knew for sure. “it means you’re going to have to eat the rest of this!”
that’s my punishment? forcing me to eat a pound of American cheese by myself? awesome. i’ll deprive my parents of shitty dairy products they find disgusting any day. plus, now there’s a nifty, scalloped-teeth design on every slice!
my long-winded point: how are you unintentionally rewarding bad behavior? how can you stop?
who am i you ask? i’m the kid who, as a 3-year-old, employed vigilante justice on the fly after losing a game. the victim was monica, my best friend at the time. we used to hang at her place after pre-school because both my parents worked full-time.
her house had a bar in the basement and the two of us always went there because we got served even as 3-year-olds. joking. i’m 90% sure the bar was just full of toys.
by the way, why were basement bars such a thing in the 80’s? all that stair climbing after access to a full bar? evidently no one was thinking clearly…because of all the basement drinking.
anyway, we as we battled it out over some poor man’s version of candy land— I recall it was entirely primary colors plus green—i knew she was about to win and felt the dread of impending crappy board game loss. it was too powerful to bear so i grabbed her chubby hand and looked up, pondering my next move. that’s when i noticed the bar’s mirrored back, reflecting our little faces—victor aside sore loser. inspiration struck and i bit her hand while watching myself in the mirror. so, that’s me.