Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Carrot Raisin Salad and a Scarred Childhood

Where it all began...

The year was 1983. I was a young boy sitting at the dinner table on a Sunday afternoon. Alone. No mother, father, or sister to sit with me. Actually they had already finished eating their food, and so had I; except for one thing. There in front of me was a big pile of carrot raisin salad. "But I don't want to eat it!" I would insist. "You're not getting up until you do!" came my mother's response. This scene had already been played out several times over the course of the meal. It's not like I hadn't eaten anything else...actually my plate was spotless everywhere else. So what was so special about this "salad" that I had to sit there and eat it? I found it hard to believe that my mom and dad actually liked the stuff. I knew my sister hated it too judging by her distorted face as she hurriedly forked bite after bite into her mouth while holding her nose. But she did it. Then she abandoned me too.

I tried crying. I tried reasoning. I tried bargaining. I tried being mean. My mom was not human. She didn't budge. As a matter of fact of all this was only sealing her resolve. There was no way of getting out of this. It's time. I scooped up a hefty fork full of luke-warm carrot raisin salad and looked at it. "I don't even like carrots by themselves. I don't even go out of my way to eat raisins." The nose thing got my sister through it. Maybe it would work for me too. Left hand fingers holding the nose, mouth open, eyes closed for good measure, and a right hand holding a pile of gross on a fork.

In my mouth it went. "What the heck happened! The nose thing isn't working! I can still taste it...and it tastes...absolutely horrid!" Out of pure shock my left hand quickly abandons post and relinquishes my nose. My jaw - now in total disbelief that it was being forced to chew something so awful starts a full sprint. "Swallow dang it! Swallow! Can't! Must chew some more." My eyes start to water up. I glance over towards the kitchen to see if mom was watching. Of course she was eying me like a hawk. I felt betrayed just as much as I felt like spitting the food out of my mouth. A drink of milk finally washes away the dreadful substance. Pieces raisin were still stuck in my teeth. The aftertaste of a sweet and savory avalanche of gut-wrenching food lingered. I was beaten. KO'd. My will to live was gone. But at least the nightmare that would haunt me for the rest of my life was over...

"Not so fast young man! You still have two more bites of carrot raisin salad on your plate."

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