I recently found this little gem of a story hiding in a folder deep within my computer. Finding this brought back memories of the days when i wanted to become the next David Sedaris, Chuck Klosterman, or the now, Chelsea Handler. This made me want to write again and rightfully so, this will be the first entry to my blog, “Divided Love.” After reading this, I thought I sounded a little harsh towards my grandparents, so I would like to preface this story by saying it was never meant to be malicious or slanderous in any way and I can only hope to be in as good of shape as my grandparents at their age. With that said… Pheasants and Marriage:
“My grandparents are from the South, the home of the deep fryer and lard. Even after living in the mid-west for so many years, they have yet to abandon this inherited form of cooking. Back in the day, to many others and to me, my grandparent’s cooking was the best; I would have killed for her finger lickin’ fried chicken – I have to emphasize that this was when I was younger, or I should say when they were younger. At this stage in my undeveloped life I was a little oblivious about health issues like clogged arteries and diabetes. But we both grew older ; I grew wiser and they lost their ability to see things like expiration dates and recipe ingredients. After college I moved in with them, and shortly after living with them, I learned to buy my own groceries, to check every expiration date, and to never eat what they’ve cooked. There have been many times where I have started pouring milk into my cereal and big chunks come splashing out. And this is the milk they had just used to cook biscuits. After mentioning these spoils, my grandparents were still baffled as why I would turn down a “delicious” homemade meal or why I throw out that perfectly good meatloaf that they made a month ago, or why I wouldn’t eat their brownswhager sandwiches anymore (have you read the ingredients?) .
They consider my eating habits very peculiar and are convinced that I “wouldn’t know good food if it hit my mouth,” which they insist on mentioning at least once a day when I turn down a meal. One would think that after all those times i’ve turned down a meal they would stop asking, but no, being from the South, they are obsessed with feeding me. Like clockwork, I open the refrigerator or I sit down with something to eat and my grandmother says, “are you hungry?” Yes, otherwise why would I be eating/looking for something to eat. “You can eat anything in that fridge or I can make you something.” Every now and then, I feel obligate to appease them and I let them cook me something. I figure my best bet at a decent, edible meal is breakfast. Breakfast foods are safe and easy; it’s hard to screw up toast or eggs and hard to contract botulism or some other food borne illness from these foods too. But they never fail to prove me wrong. Clumps of melted butter are dripping off the toast and the eggs are also dripping of uncooked egg whites and yolk. I take a couple bites, rip it up, move it around the plate like any good anorexic would do and finish it with a smile.
After years of this, one night all my “weird eating habits” all accumulated up to one grand conclusion about my life; something that has unknowingly plagued my life for years and will no doubt will continue to. Oftentimes, various friends of my grandparents bring them gifts of food from a hunting or fishing excursion, and these dead animal carcasses are stored deep in the freezer until the day of use where they are thawed out in either the refrigerator or the sink. On the day of this epiphany, it was a day of thawing. I was innocently looking around the kitchen for some sort of snack when I opened the fridge to find two skinny leathery legs with long curled talons staring me in the eye as if they were waiting to attack. I immediately closed the door, vowing to never open it the rest of the day, and went directly to the pantry for some chips. Later that night, my grandparents asked me if I was going to have dinner with them. Wondering if that shriveled up bird carcass was actually going to be eaten, I inquired about what they were having for dinner.
“Maybe, it depends on what you are having. Is it what is defrosting in the fridge? If it is, then no, I wont be.”
“Then no? Have you had pheasant before? It’s delicious.”
“No, I’ve had pheasant before and it was fine. I just don’t like to eat anything that still has feet, eyes or any other body part still intact. It ruins my appetite.”
Slack jawed, my grandfather responds, “All animals have faces…It’s the same as when you scale a fish or pluck a duck before you eat it?”
“Yea, I don’t do that, I buy it at the grocery store clean and defaced”
My grandfather broke into laughter. “You mean to tell me you never cleaned a bird before?…”
No, no i haven’t because i didn’t grow up at a time where I had to hunt and gather for my dinner.
“…How are you ever going to find a husband if you can’t clean a bird”
My eyes probably shot wide open. What?! My grandma starts laughing now too, and chimes in.
“You should probably learn how to do that, it’s probably why you haven’t found anyone yet.’
My mouth stood agape. Did the conversation of a pheasant in the refrigerator just turn into an explanation of why I was not in a relationship? Finally, a clear, logical reason for why i wasn’t seeing anyone. Silly me, all this time i thought it was because I just didn’t want to be tied down, I was too young. Who knew the real reason was because I didn’t know how to clean and cook a freshly killed bird. I think I will be staying single for a long, long, long time.”