My parents loved to send us to our Aunt and Uncle’s house on the Oregon coast during the summer when we were kids. My Aunt and Uncle did not have children. I think they liked children. And I know my parents loved a week without their children.
During one visit, while my Uncle takes my older brother out driving my Uncle’s sand rails around the sand dunes, my Aunt takes me to the grocery store. I was five. In the store my Aunt relays to me that my Mom has sent a laundry list to her of all the foods I do not like. My thought: Excellent work, Mom! I was a highly finicky eater so I attribute this act as wise counsel on my Mom’s part.
My Aunt asked me how in the world hamburger made my list? Future vegan? Not quite. But I did not like hamburger. So my Aunt buys hamburger much to my chagrin and tells me I just haven’t eaten her hamburger yet. I haven’t eaten mice yet either but I don’t need to in order to know I won’t like them.
When it is your child being a coy smarty pants, that child is precocious. When it is someone else’s child being a coy smarty pants, especially when you do not have children, that child is begging for the Joan Crawford treatment. Thankfully, my Aunt was a pacifist.
My Aunt makes lunch for me. And I sit at the table staring at some meatloaf-ish type dish. I can’t eat it. She subscribes to the theory of try one bite. I put the smallest fragment of meat on one tine of the fork. This does not qualify. She also subscribes to this theory: you will sit there until you finish it. I assess my situation and get clever.
They have cats so I began luring the cats over under the table and believe they will eat this entire serving of meatloaf surprise. I do not pay enough attention to my own cats at home to realize there is reason cat food is flavored like tuna and not cow. They also have a tiny dog. Or what I like to call a cat in a doggy costume. Her name is Myrtle and that foolish dog won't eat the hamburger either. Don't dogs eat meaty flavored snacks? What is wrong with these animals? We had two Airedales at home that would eat aluminum cans if you dropped them under the dinner table.
So, I devise another plan. I am tiny but I can see the window about four feet above the kitchen table. The window is open so as my Aunt busies herself and turns her back, I catapult bites of my lunch out the window. I take my time as to avoid appearing too obvious in my sudden change of heart.
She comes into the kitchen and I make deliberate acts of patting my mouth with my napkin. ALL done! Oh, SO good. She looks at me for a minute. “Did you get enough to eat?” she asks.
“I did. Thank you.”
“Are you full?” she asks with a smile.
“Pretty full. Not too full for a trip to Dairy Queen down the street for a chocolate dipped ice cream cone but pretty full of hamburger.”
“Ok. I have just one question.”
“Yes, ma’am?” I respond as my innocence sparkles through my eyes.
“Do you know why there is a pile of hamburger in the kitchen windowsill?”
What!?!?! My heartbeat races as my eyes expand. Early indication I have no poker face.
What I had failed to notice because of my tiny size was that in fact, the kitchen window was NOT open. Because our windows at home were all sliding windows, I didn’t know that awning windows can jut from the house and have a four or five inch windowsill. Sure enough, in the windowsill was a pile of hamburger meat.
“Sorry,” I say because clearly, I can’t blame the cats or the worthless meat-hating dog. And I am quite nervous she is going to tell my parents. And what I did was quite terrible. She agreed there would be no more hamburger testing. I promised not to do it again.
If only those animals liked hamburger my ruse would have met with great success.
I am sure this reminded my Aunt of just one of the many reasons they chose not to have children.