Post # 93 Story Time

February 18, 2013 at 12:34 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 93 Story Time

It’s been a hectic weekend for me.  Without going into details, the entire immediate family on my side, a few members of partner/spouse’s family were in town for the weekend.  Made for some late, wine-filled nights gathered around the fire pit.  Stories were swapped, friendships renewed, communication lines reopened.

I was struck again by how food always seems to play such a large role in my family’s gatherings.  For instance, last night my brother-in-law made part of the evening meal; another member of the family made part, and I made part.  It wasn’t a huge feast but there was lots of what was there and it all tasted wonderful.  It was seasoned by good humor and laughter.

As it always happens when my family gets together for any reason, we told stories designed to make everyone laugh.  It’s the Irish blood in us.  I started making note of how many of those stories involved food.  It seems like the constant in the equation.

One close friend/member of the family talked about how when he first met our family, he would walk home from work past our house.  After his bills were paid each month, he said he never had money left over for extraneous things like food.  He’d stop at our house and my dad would always have a cold beer for him, and mom always had something for him to eat.  He said one time he came in and sat down and the air conditioning felt so nice that he sighed and closed his eyes.  When he opened them again, mom had a plateful of grilled cheese sandwiches for him, and he wasn’t really very hungry.  But he ate them all.

We talked about my sister’s first Thanksgiving meal and the pumpkin that was supposed to be turned into a pie.  We talked about my mom’s first microwave and the loaf of bread she made that turned into a brick. One story that came up that made everyone laugh and groan at the same time involved chicken livers and fish bait.

Mom and Dad and my younger brother are avid fishermen.  At one point, it came close to an obsession.  Over time, they found that chicken livers made excellent fish bait.  So whenever they saw it on sale, they’d buy several cartons and put them in the freezer.  Then, when they decided to go fishing, they’d take a carton out and put it on the porch rail the night before.  By the time it was thawed out and ready to use as bait, they’d be ready to go fishing early in the morning. One late afternoon, I came home from work and noticed the container of frozen chicken livers on the porch rail.  I made a mental note that Mom and Dad wouldn’t be there when I woke up and likely not to be home till noon or later.  This was such a normal situation we didn’t even talk about during dinner or the rest of the evening.

The next morning, when I walked out to the living room, Mom was sitting on the couch drinking coffee.

“What’s up?” I asked.  “I thought you guys were going fishing.”

“We were,” she said.  “But the your dad needed something at the hardware store, and we decided not to go.”

I looked outside and saw Dad’s truck was gone.  I also noted the chicken livers still sitting on the porch rail.

“We’ll probably go tomorrow,” she continued.

Events transpired and the proposed fishing trip never happened.  The chicken livers, however, stayed on the porch rail.  Each day, when I arrived home, I glanced to see if anyone had taken care of the package.  Each day, it stayed where it was.  Then the livers started to rot.  In the Arizona sun, it didn’t take long.  The gases released from this purely natural process caused the package to swell and distend.  It was hermetically sealed for our safety, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before there was  big smelly explosion.

Each day I hoped that someone would have taken care of it.  I didn’t feel any need to since I hadn’t put it there in the first place.  But each day my horror grew along with the size of the package.  I saw that not only was it hermetically sealed, but it was also wrapped in plastic.  I just prayed that the two would be strong enough to hold it together.

Finally, one day it was gone.  I breathed a sigh of relief assuming that Dad had taken it somewhere and buried it.  After I’d changed and took a swim in the pool and got dinner started, I was sitting on the couch greeting the dogs.  My mom’s little black dog smelled terrible, like she’d been rolling in cow patties.  Then, I notice that where she had licked my arm stank like crazy.

“What the hell?” I said out loud, sniffing my arm again.

Mom started laughing.  “Remember those chicken livers?  The dogs got to them.  Can you give them all a bath?”

It was weeks before the smell went away entirely.

I’ve never been able to look a chicken liver in the eye ever since.

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