Monday, October 13, 2014

Another Excerpt from "Abominable"

Three days after the D.C. Bicentennial celebration replete with a nationally televised fireworks display attended by President Ford (of which I have absolutely no recollection), I was to celebrate something far more significant to me. On July 7, 1976 (the 7th day of the 7th month), I was turning 7 years old with only a minor lingering regret that I hadn’t been born a year later so that I could have turned 7 on 7-7-77. All things considered, I guess I’ve still been pretty lucky.

It was around this time in my life, I suppose, during this period of great American patriotism that I began to notice subtle things about myself (and others began to notice in me) that were frankly a little out-of-step with the common sense of the times. A revolution, or should I say revulsion, was building inside of me, and oddly enough, it had to do with the contents of my Six Million Dollar Man Metal Lunch Box that I brought with me to 2nd grade everyday. It was with great trepidation and dread that I unlatched it each day along with the other children as we sat down for lunch together. What strange smell would be unleashed? What would be my humiliation today, I thought? What un-tradable delicacy, what useless 2nd-grade lunch currency, lurched in my Steve Austin lunch box?

It was my fate to never experience the culinary lunch pleasures of an American childhood. The classics - PB and J on Wonder Bread with the crusts cut off, turkey and cheese also on Wonder Bread, potato chips, Cheetos, Twinkies, Ho Hos, chocolate milk and many others - were all noticeably absent for me, and I could only look on enviously as my little classmates joyously munched away and traded goodies with each other but never with me. After all, what little American child in 1976 would have willingly given up his perfect little PB and J triangles of Peter Pan peanut butter and purple grape jelly for a piece of baguette dressed with Dijon mustard and stuffed with goose liver pate and lettuce. Have you ever smelled that? Have you ever unlatched a lunch box that has contained that for hours? It ain’t pretty. Or how do you suppose I would have gone about getting my hands on some Pringles back then? “Um, excuse me, Jimmy, do you want to trade those Pringles for my garnish of julienned radishes? No? Ok, how about my mushrooms stuffed with a raisin-coriander mixture? Still no?! C’mon! Alright, alright, let’s talk desserts. How about you trade me that Twinkie for a slice of strawberry tart?” It was hopeless. Kids aren’t stupid.

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