“NO! I’m not going to eat that hairy stuff!!” I said to my mom, as plop, it was served upon my plate, and that was it! Stuck with the hairy stuff! Do you remember the first real decision you made without help from your parents? I say no help at all from your parents, you know? You may have picked out a shirt but it didn’t match those pants, mom would then say “how about this shirt with those pants they will match better.” Trying to teach you about matching your clothes. So you would be guided with your choices in life by those over baring parents, you think! But my day is coming! That’s right, choices galore! So when, or should I say what age, and what choice did you make all by yourself? Do you remember?
My road to my first choice, was kind of like this. Sit back and enjoy the ride, so to speak. My parents came from a different country all to make a better life for, well, ME! I’m sure, they thought it to be real good thing for them as well, and my sister, I will have to admit it. Damn! (This story was to be all about me! I screwed it up by including my sister), okay back on track. So being from a different country they had well rules that were different from my friends. At first it was no problems with that, but when your friends start to ask “Why do your parents have you do….” it was somewhat acquired. Though they loved me and sis, they would not give up on traditions. They were just going to do things their way and that’s all we needed to know! As for why it was going to be this way? They always pulled rank! “because we are the parents, and that is that! Stop asking!” Yes I was one of those kids to ask why a bit too much at times. But one has to know things right? I saw it as it was, my job for now, and I had to do it well ! My Mom just thought, it was my attempt to drive her crazy!
Rules of the dinner table were as follows; you eat everything on your plate! No if’s, or and’s, or but’s! You heard this I’m sure? If not you missed out! Just saying. My parents thought that food was to be an experience of life. Enjoy new things and textures, tastes, kind’s of foods that you never heard of or seen before. Was to experience something great. “But what if it is yucky!” I would ask, putting the emphases on the word yuck! But what is a six-year-old to do? Got to ask, and asking “why”, was just out of the question for now! “You must try it and treat your self to an experience of life, if you really don’t like it, then, well, you know it, because you tried it, not because your friends say it’s yucky!” MOM explained like a teacher in school would, she had this way of making a mouth full of tacks sound smooth and creamy and real likable. I fell for it, a time or two, but caught on real fast and started to ask why!
Rule two; By trying new foods you will always honor the cook. They are trying to serve good foods for their guests, in preparing it, just the way they know how, so that it tastes good. The cook is using their talents to their best of their abilities, so we will honor them and make an attempt to eat what they’re making for us. You can guess at the questions, I had by now for my mom?? So moving along to number three.
Rule three; No matter how it tastes you never dishonor the cooks attempt at cooking! You should always be happy for the foods you have and are able to try.” Okay mom! I will try to do all that.” I would reassure her. Not believing me, she would again repeated herself. But sometimes I tried not to answer her, but she would then tap me on the shoulders and say ” are you listening to me?” Life is rough for a kid in my position. Have to act right, and do the right things, and say it just so… Just what gives? The pressure of trying not to embarrass my parents when they are foreign, and unfamiliar with American traditions, is just hell I tell ya! But what is a six-year-old to do? In short!! Rule three was ” Don’t embarrass my parents!”
The dinner party was to be at 4 o’clock, early dinner. Just so there wouldn’t be a rush to leave because kids have to get to bed. The parents would all be talking around the living room, while the kids would be running around most of the rest of the house, at times outside for a quick game of hide and go seek! When dinner was about to be served like 15 more minuets before, the call would go out. “time to wash up for dinner… do you all hear me? Calling all hungry kids 15 more minuets till dinner.” Because we were starving, and after playing hard, we were real hungry, we would then drop everything to wash up.
As the server was placing all of the food out on the table I could smell all the goodness of it.” I wonder what kind of foods these people like?” Then I thought.” Hope they like the foods we eat?” My sister slapped me on my leg! “What?” I asked in a scolding voice. “You are talking crazy! These are americans they don’t eat mom’s kind of food. It is probably yucky!” She was doing her best in scaring me! The anticipation was starting to get to me when… “Okay who is hungry? Come and get it!” The host said with some excitement in her voice.
Mom jumped to her feet just to catch up to me and help serve me up. While waiting our turn to dish up, I was looking around people, just to get a better view of what smelled so good. Then it was our turn, mom would ask,” would you like to try this?” all the while giving me the look of .. remember what I told you all week-long about…. I shook my head without saying anything. My plate was filling up nicely when mom noticed saying, ” no vegetables yet!” She looked around like she had missed them but no, she found them at the end of the table. Steamed collard greens with spinach in butter sauce and lemon slices. All of the true ingredients of yuck! Play dough looked good compared to that, slimy green wilted long string monster greasy hair. “Mom!!” I tried to say while getting her attention. But she plunged the fork down into the monsters green hair, as she started to pull some out of the dish, like a fork of worms wiggling, the stringy strings started to move from all sides of the dish. My eyes got wider and wider as mom and the fork lifted the green yuck higher and higher in trying to separate some for my plate. I’m sure I was thinking, “OH! CRAP! Sis was right! What the hell do americans eat!?” Right before mom could plop the green yuck down on my plate, like it was dangling over the plate, I could take no more of mom not listening to me! “NO! NOT THE HAIRY STUFF! I’M NOT EATING THAT HAIRY STUFF!! I yelled at mom! My mom was frozen in time. She could have crawled into the cracks of the floor from the embarrassment! But it was green hairy stuff, come on mom have a heart! Because the rules were the rules? I sat there, not eating at all! Finley mom found some heart for me! Some time when the cook wasn’t looking, she slid my green hairy stuff off my plate and placed it onto hers. Once it was gone, I scarfed down the food so as to keep up with some of those rules! But I made sure I didn’t get any of the greasy monsters hair juice in with my other food as I ate it.
Mom is now 81 years young, and we were just reminiscing about this story. “You know?” she said.” We never got to go over to those people’s house again?” smiling as big as ever! “At the time I could have killed you from the embarrassment, but now.. we did have years of fun telling this story at their expense, and for our amusement! You should thank me for letting you live!” she said with a laugh, and a hug! “How dare you embarrass your mother like that!” Scolding me now 40 years later, again laughing. ” Well mom how dare you try to kill me with having to….. No! I will say it like this.. I’M NOT EATING THAT HAIRY STUFF!!” Yelling out as loud as I could in repeating the past. Both of us laughing with tears running down our faces.
Thanks mom for the memories!! ALL THE BEST!