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9.22.2010

IF THE COLOR MAIZE HAD A SMELL

Smells are powerful mood and memory triggers.  Still to this day there are certain things I can smell that cause a powerful emotional memory, an association to an event or a feeling.  I hated breakfast as kid.  If the word hate defined by Mr. Webster himself means; intense dislike, aversion, loathing, enmity toward, distasteful - then I held all those things for anything breakfast.  I would awaken early in the morning in the unheated upstairs of our childhood farm house to the sounds of my mom in the kitchen.  On that particular morning not only did her sounds awaken me, but immediately a repugnant smell jolted me wide awake!  I knew what that smell was and I held active hostility toward what I knew was awaiting me at the table.  If breakfast was bad enough in and of itself, what was coming that particular morning was of epic-biblical-event-wrath of God-horrific proportions.  The smell was actually tangible - a sort of musty, grainy, gritty, dusty in your lungs coughing kind of smell.   My mind was whirling as to how I would; a) either choke it down without puking, b) fake a sudden and acute illness, c) evoke the constant prayer I prayed that "if you get me out this God I'll be good the rest of my life", d) sit there long enough that I would possibly miss the bus thus causing them to let me out of eating it, or e) if Jesus was planning to return would He magically rapture the church as I sat down.  I walked down the stairs slowly with dread so heavy on me I could barely lift my feet.  My mom, of course, was happy as a lark singing on a spring morning.  There on the stove was a huge vat, almost caldronesque, burping and bubbling with cornmeal.  UGH!  I felt as though I was in the musty corn crib of the barn where the air was thick with dusty cornish smells that settled on you like coal dust on a miner.  Taking my place at the table my mom set the steaming caldron in the middle of the table and began ladling it generously into each of our bowls.  My father would get almost giddy with excitement over what he viewed as a breakfast food treasure - I guess similar to caviar for him.  Oh I tried to eat it, kind of.  I put a small bite in my mouth - disturbed by not only the smell as the spoon got closer to my mouth, but the texture of it rolling around in my mouth.  It was this very strange gritty consistency much like putting a handful sand in a bowl of oatmeal, but larger grains of sand.  The taste and smell were almost one in the same.  My father liked butter and salt and pepper on his.  My mom, she loved a bit of maple syrup on hers.  I, on the other hand, could not find one condiment that would improve the taste, texture, look and smell of it!!  There was only five of us in our family but the caldron was large enough to feed all of us and the bulk of the starving children in Africa.  Which, by the way, was I believe what I told my dad when he told me to eat my breakfast that morning.  "Lynn, there are starving children in Africa who would be grateful for that.", my father stated as a self-appointed delegate to the African Consulate on Starvation.  Feeling overwhelmed with extreme hostility toward all things breakfast, and everything cornmeal, I boldly replied, "Well, let's get an envelope and mail mine to them!"  Not a great thing to say to your father at 9 years old and to someone that held cornmeal in such high esteem in the breakfast food category.  That was it - Jesus was not rescuing me by his return - I knew that God would not answer my prayer as I had already naughtily broken my part of the deal - Puking was not a real option as I only puked once in my whole life and faking an illness at this point after my sassy outburst would not be believed.  My only option was to wait them out.  And I did.  If I remember right that day was one of many when I sat at the breakfast table for almost two hours not eating.  Usually after that long some bartering occurred - two bites and sometimes none as the bus was honking at the end of the driveway.   And, before you think that big vat of cornmeal was wasted, it was creatively turned into another breathtakingly gross breakfast the next day - fried mush!  If big vats of cornmeal had a definable smell definition, it would be described in the soon released Webster's Abridged Edition Dictionary as; invidiously repugnant, contrary to the health and best interest of any child.

1 comment:

  1. You know you're 2.5 steps away...when you have to eat what's in front of you!

    ReplyDelete