Still chewing a snap pea, I rinsed the last of the
Thai leftover rice and lemon wedge down the disposal,
recalling the Tee-shirt I bought, as a joke for Peter,
“Visualize Whirled Peas.” Pete hated peas.
Still does, I think – even in Indian rice, where
they’re mostly there for color and punctuation.
Pete showed me how to make perfect popcorn
in a Whirly Popper and how to make scones
from scratch for breakfast. My older brother,
John, made me my first burrito. I was 27,
married, living in Coconut Grove, Florida.
How had I lived without Mexican food?
And where did my brothers learn to cook?
Growing up, they were only around at dinnertime,
for the pre-dinner wrestling match, on the living
room floor, when they called each other names
like fag or weakling ‘til they were a tornado of
arms and legs. We girls watched or got out of the way,
‘til Mom appeared and gave everyone chores, like “Go
finish your homework,” “Clear the table,” “Bring up a
can of asparagus,” (or beans, or a load of laundry) from
the basement. The Cellar. There were no risers in the back
of the stairs to The Cellar. I hated those open-backed steps.
I hated canned mushy vegatables. I hated frozen vegetables
too. I hated meat even more. I lived for the nights Mom made
spaghetti with her home-made sauce or baking powder biscuits.
Other than that, I lived for desserts — cookies, mostly. I spent
my allowance on dark chocolate covered Mounds bars, never
on milk chocolate Three Muskateers. It was a good half mile
walk to Gunther’s Grocery. We walked everywhere back then.
We walked to school, to our friends’ houses, to church, to the
playground, to the ponds in the woods, to the lake. Summer,
Winter, Spring and Fall we walked. We walked for years.
We’re still walking. When we all get together for Easter,
Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, after dinner,
we put on our sneakers and coats, file out the door
and we walk.