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It All Starts Here

It’s no wonder I have problems with food. I consider school cafeterias my first battleground. You learn how to dodge all those landmines early on.

One of my earliest school memories is pouring the powdered Nestle Quick from my baggie from home into my little cardboard milk carton and shaking it as hard as my little second grade hands could manage.

From there the other memories come tumbling down. Who doesn’t have a classmate who dumped a little bag of Fritos into their Styrofoam chili cup? Not I. Nowadays when I see the whole chili/Frito combo on a menu, I think to myself, “Why wasn’t I brave enough to try that shit in sixth grade?” And then I realize I didn’t try it then and I ain’t gonna try it now.

I’m not sure if anyone else shares this memory but my best friend Julie used to bring a lot of things Tupperware in her lunch. I was SO jealous. Her mom actually made Kool-Aid with a cup of sugar; my mom used maybe a half a cup on a good day. And, Julie’s mom froze the Kool-Aid overnight in Tupperware, putting it in Julie’s lunch box in pert-near great snow cone form every morning.

I’m feeling a little like I need to defend my mom’s lunch making prowess. First off, she worked for the postal service so she was long gone by the time any lunches were made. Suffice it to say, we were on our own in the morning because she was “too busy making a living.”

But, if she had made my lunch, I would’ve loved it. She was a great one for hiding food, a trait I feel I have continued to the best of my abilities. She knew a good food secret like nobody’s business.

If you check any one of the dresser drawers or bedside tables of my surviving aunts I would bet dollars to donuts you’d find: licorice, hard candy, chocolate or leftover marshmallow chocolate Easter eggs. It’s their way.

I can remember very clearly in about sixth grade taking a tub of chocolate frosting, when they started making it that way, and taking it to my room slowly eating the whole thing one big spoon at a time while I hid it under my bed. I did this more than once. My mom, God rest her, never mentioned it.

It appears I come from a long line of smugglers.

Mom used to hide the Easter candy in the top of her closet, like none of us knew where that was. We knew better than to even consider looking in the top of our parents’ closets. But like I’ve already told you, I’m no quitter.

I do remember a particular year when I was in high school and was brave enough to nab a few of those marshmallow eggs from the closet. And honestly, they weren’t even my favorite. I pretended to like them because my mom and sister liked them. Who wouldn’t want to emulate them? She noticed that year. That only led me to believe that maybe she had seen all those chocolate frosting containers under my bed.

A good mom is one who knows when it’s best to keep your mouth shut. I’ll stand by that one.

When Jack Burns needed to hold his mother's hand, his fingers could see in the dark. - John Irving 


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