I mentioned in the Kool-Aid post that one reason we drank so much Kool-Aid in my family was because we were not a water-drinking family. Well, that sent my mind on a rambling goose chase, and I found myself following a trail. One that led to a couple of strange eating and drinking habits in my family.
As to the no thank you, no water, I can’t swear to it, but I think this sprang from the fact that my father had a thing about water. He said that he “once got sick after drinking water”. I wish I‘d asked more about this experience like “how do you know it was the water?’ Or “what else did you eat or drink that day?”But I was I was very young when I first heard this and whatever Daddy said was taken on faith.
I wasn’t young in Daddy’s later years when I’d visit him during various stays in hospitals and nurses would ask me why he wouldn’t drink water.
But I’d still say “once he got sick after drinking water.” After a few days, he’d have them won over, and all the nurses would bring him orange juice when they came around with the medicine cart.
But this isn’t the only drinking problem our family had. There was also Aunt E., one of Daddy’s older sisters. Her problem was milk. She drank it, but only if she couldn’t see it. Brother A and I always liked eating at her house since she poured our milk into coffee cups.
Recently I was reminiscing with Cousin J, her son, and he pointed out that she always let her ice cream melt to liquid before eating it, and she only ate vanilla ice cream – in a clear, crystal dish.
Melted ice cream, t hat brings it around to yours truly. I’ve never really psycho-analyzed myself but I’m pretty sure ice cream is the reason I don’t like big parties. During my early years, say three or four, my mother was always taking me to kiddie birthday parties. The kids weren’t my friends. We did kind of play together in the park but it was our mothers sitting on the benches who were forming the real friendships.
“Don’t be silly,” she’d tell me when I said I didn’t want to go. “Parties are fun.”
Sure parties had their moments.
Pin the Tail on the Donkey was funny,
and Musical Chairs was exciting.
But with the end of each game, dread and loathing inched a little closer. It meant ice cream and cake was just around the corner.
Sure enough, the birthday girl would open her gifts and the next thing I knew I was crammed in with kids I didn’t know, surrounding a table with a big round cake festooned with white icing, and pink or blue or yellow roses. Candles with dancing flames sat on top.
Happy Birthday would be sung. I’d mouth the words because my throat was closing and the tears were forming.
I’d sniffle and gulp as some grownup with a big knife would slice the cake and put it on a balloon decorated plate before handing it to another grown-up who’d use an equally big knife to slice a rectangle of ice cream from the deconstructed carton, and hand it to yet another G.U who’d place the plates on a tray and give them out.
I just knew the ice cream was melting by the second, and I knew, I just knew I’d have to eat it . After all, the other kids were clapping and jumping up and down and devouring theirs on contact. But the more it melted, the soggier the cake got; and the more I tried, the more I cried.
That’s when the questions would start.
“What’s the matter?” some little girl would ask.
I’d shrug my shoulders,
“Why are you crying?” a mother would ask.
I’d shake my head.
“What’s wrong with you,” my mother would ask on the way home. “Kids like ice cream and cake.”
Well, this kid didn’t like ice cream-and-cake, not together. The cake wouldn’t have been too bad if the ice cream didn’t go and “soggify it”.
Maybe that’s what led to my beets and macaroni problem.
My mother always seemed to make macaroni and cheese
And since those were the days when a good square meal meant a starch, a vegetable, and a meat, no matter how you dished it out, the red of the beet juice was going to run into yellow of the macaroni and cheese. And I just could not eat the macaroni. No way. And so I sat and sat at the table….until I finished it.
The sands of time have had their effect on me, but two idiosyncrasies (to put it kindly) remain.
Although I accept, and always have a great time, an initial invitation to a party calls for time to settle into the idea.
Oh yes, I always confine runny, juicy foods to their own little bowl, one that kind of look like aunt E’s ice cream dish.
Any formative food stories in your past?