I miss family. You know, the every one sitting around the dinner table kind of family. Before dinner, kids bustling about in and out of the house, mom yelling, “Just stay in or out! Not both!” The pangs of hunger racking my guts so bad that I truly believe, “If I don’t eat soon I’ll die!” I yell out!
Around dinner time when the meal is simmering, stewing or whatever it’s doing to produce its aroma aloft in the air seems to be a time of congregation around the kitchen. My two older brothers and I are roaming around the half cooked meal like lions circling their next prey. Being the youngest of three boys in our family meant that I was lucky if I was tossed a scrap of something ninety percent eaten by my older brothers. Mom would chase us out of “her” kitchen with a wooden spoon bellowing, “Get outta here! It’s not ready yet,” with all the love she could muster!
My mom’s dinners were so good that a lot of times my brothers and I would be perfectly willing to put up with a few swats from the dreaded wooden spoon for a bite of this, a nibble of that. Actually laughing while mom beat our behinds with her wooden spoon. It did sting but like I said, Mom’s cookin is Moms cookin! On the other hand, dad’s belt was something to fear. But thankfully that’s another story on another topic.
As the five of us sit down at the table for the nightly feast, no prayers are said, no thankful words. It’s all business. My brothers and I are attacking the meal with great fervor. Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot of small talk. How’s school, sports, or the instrument one of us is playing. Then there’s me.
“How’d detention go Brett?” Asks my middle brother.
“Good, I guess,” I say while filling my mouth with another helping of moms cookin. Just then the old family dog sneaks over to me from his hiding place just underneath a nearby desk. A six foot, low to the ground distance is all he’s got to cover. BUT, not to be seen is key he knows. For if he’s spotted its out to the garage and he can forget any special little treats that he will receive incognito of course by me.
He’s made it! Such a master of his craft. Such grace is entailed in his march from desk to dining room table! He sits by my side but mostly under the table with his head on my lap. He knows that I know how to play the game. Besides, who can resist those big brown eyes looking up at you with all the pity in the world? My part is to skillfully displace a piece of anything really off my plate, tactfully lay my hand over it, watching every one as I do the deed. I have palmed a piece of chicken. Next is to get it below the table to my big eyed beggar. His other craft is to be able to eat it with as little noise as possible lest he be found out and we both get sent to our respective rooms without finishing. Granted my two older brothers eating without any etiquette isn’t silent.
Only I can hear the barely audible noise coming from my furry four legged partner under the table.
“Great!” I think.
Next are the Brussels sprouts. I can only hope and pray that I can secretly get these to my furry friend. But I MUST eat one…for good faith, to draw attention away from me and my four other family members. It is well known about my distaste for Brussels sprouts throughout the land.
First one palmed. Now to get it to the animal garbage disposal under the table.
“Is your homework done Brett?” says my mom as my hand covers the green aberration of a vegetable.
“Yeah it’s done” I reply.
The timing has got to be perfect or we’ll both be banished to our own sort of dungeon. Hand around sprout, making a loose fist, nobody looking…now! I do the ole drop the napkin trick and bend down to get it meanwhile slipping my pooch the tiny ball of cabbage. He takes it! It worked!
“Oh my god I may never have to eat another one of those god awful things ever again!”
“Good boy! Good Boy!” I scream in my head.
Just then my now traitor furry friend walks out from under the table in front of everyone. The room is silent. He walks just four short steps, turns around, looks right at me and drops the evil green ball from his mouth and it hits the floor with not even the hint of a bounce.
“Not even I would fancy my gullet with such a foul substance,” he seems to say looking right at me.
He fancies himself over to the door leading to the garage, awaiting his banishment. I on the other hand come up with something totally genius if I don’t say myself.
“How’d he get that thing?” I say while pointing at it on the kitchen floor.
“Look!” My older brother says.
All eyes are on my outstretched hand that’s pointing to the dog with its little pieces of Brussels sprouts stuck to my fingers. I get up; make my way to my room. As I pass the living room window I see my furry four legged friend staring at me through the window.
“Dam straight,” he’s thinking.
“If I had it my way, I’d neuter you myself for giving me that goddam ball from hell!” he conveys as he strode back to his blanket and laid down. Content that I took one for the team as well. How I loved that dog. How I miss the family times I shared with my four other comrades known as my family.