My mother loved boiled cabbage. That meant we all had to eat boiled cabbage. She would boil the cabbage until it was a soggy, smelly affront to your senses and then serve it to her family.

Oh, the humanity!

It seems that she – and my father – would enjoy this horror. Their taste buds had obviously deteriorated due to their advanced age. Man, they were in their 30’s or something! I was 7 or so and all my systems were still intact. We would sit down for dinner and have like a pork chop, peas and then, suddenly, a huge pile of boiled cabbage would be plopped onto our plates.
I knew if I ate all that I would die.

And I would stare at it and try to come up with some sort of plan to deal with that steaming gelatinous mass.

I was not alone in this dilemma. My bother, Gene, and my sister, Nancy, both had their own steaming mass to contend with. But this was boiled cabbage and it was every man for himself.

So I would eat the pork chop. Then I would dispose of the peas by eating them one at a time – stabbing each one with one tine of the fork. A slow, but time tested way of dealing with those little green orbs.

Then I would stare at the cabbage and look at my Mom and Dad, hoping for a reprieve but knowing none would come. I then settled down to devise a plan.

I could try to stuff the entire soggy pile into my mouth at one time and then attempt to swallow it all at once.

A quick solution. The major drawback to that technique is the real possibility my gag reflex would kick in.  Spewing forth the cabbage could result in dire parental consequences.

I could eat one small bite at a time, washing it down quickly with a glass of water.

We always had ice water with dinner. My Dad would fill an empty wine bottle with water and keep it in the refrigerator. The bottle was sitting on the table. Doing some quick mental calculations, I realized that there was just not enough water available for that plan to work.

I could feed it to the dog!

I looked at Buster lying on the floor and our eyes met. I could clearly see in those eyes: “No way am I eating that stuff!”

I looked at Gene and saw that his mouth was stuffed with cabbage. Then he gulped. Holy Moly! My brother had successfully executed the full mouth swallow! He then asked to be excused and left the table with a definite air of superiority.

I glanced at my sister who was sitting next to me. To my dismay, Nancy had somehow managed to move her entire portion of cabbage surreptitiously into a napkin on her lap! She then announced, “I’m finished. May I be excused?” Her request granted, she skillfully palmed her cabbage napkin, shot me a quick “If you fink on me, little brother, you’re dead” look, and headed down the hall. Her cabbage destined to meet a watery demise in the bathroom.

It was now down to me.

There was no way could I swallow all that at once. I though briefly about doing the napkin dump but did not possess the skill my sister had masterfully honed through years of experience.

No, I would have to go “Old School”. I would have to actually eat it.

Maybe if I could start crying?

Nope. That would do nothing but perhaps get me a second helping. Jedi tricks did not work on my parents.

So I ate it. I gagged it all down and I did not die. Well, I didn’t really eat all of it but I ate enough that, when I spread the rest over my plate (and hid some under the pork chop bone), it satisfied my parents.

Now I know that they knew I didn’t eat all of it and, truth be told, I’m pretty sure that “huge pile” was probably just a spoonful or two. But, hey, when you’re seven, everything looks big.

Then my Mom would say, “Anyone want ice cream?”, and all was well. We would eat ice cream and watch TV and listen to cabbage induced flatulence for the rest of the evening.

Ah, the good old days.

3 Responses

  1. Ha! What a cute story. My parents also had a horrible dish that we are forced to eat. I don't know if you have heard of this disgusting thing, but it is called Campbell's Tomato Soup and it is the most revolting thing in the world.

  2. I love tomato soup!

  3. We had to eat liver and onions once a week until the day my Mom did a liver biopsy at work. She came home that night and declared we would never eat liver again and we didn't! Too bad we couldn't get out of lima beans that way. I hate lima beans to this day.

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