I was pretty much born and raised in the country. From early on, my diet consisted of fried chicken, fried fat back, sweet tea, Pepsi, and scrambled eggs. We had home made biscuits made with lard and dipped in molasses for breakfast. Lunch came from a fried bologna sand which lathered in mayonnaise. Dinner saw us chowing down on fried pork chops, fried corn bread, and collard greens cooked with.....ham hocks.
By the way, heart disease runs in my family.
I loved to pull my chair up to the table, along with the rest of the family. The eggs would disappear before the steam cleared out. The pork chops were gobbled up before the pig even quit squealing. This was down home eating at its finest. I ate everything that my Granny put in front of me. Everything except the collards or any other vegetable. I just don't eat vegetables at all. I know. It is very 4 year oldish of me.
And it's not like I have tried various kinds of vegetables and found them not to be of my liking. No. I simply look at whatever earthly concoction that's brewing and turn my nose up at it. I refuse to eat anything that comes from the ground.
Let me tell you why.
I was about 5 or 6 when I first lived with my dad in Virginia. My parents had not long divorced and my dad was in the Navy. My sister and I lived with him in VA Beach. During the day, while my dad worked, we went to a babysitter. I do not remember her name. Well, sometimes we had to stay late at her house. This late night schedule resulted in dinner with the babysitter and her family. She used to cook stuff that none of us kids would eat. Eggplant.....soup that tasted like cardboard.....squid. Where were my pork chops? Where were the biscuits and the Pepsi? She would give us unsweetened kool-aide.
One night the babysitter set before my sister and myself a bowel of black beans. "Try them," she advised. I quickly turned my 5 (or perhaps 6) year old nose up at it.
"I don't wanna," I remember saying. She told me to try it and if I didn't like it, I didn't have to eat it. Fair enough. I tasted the nasty stuff and managed to swallow.
My sister shot me a look. "You didn't eat enough," she said. "You need to take a big bite. How do you know if you like it?"
"I know." I told her. "It's nasty. She doesn't cook good."
"She just cooks different. Try a bigger bite, or I'm telling daddy you're not doing what you are supposed to." My dear, dear sister. Always there for me when I needed her.
So, being the good little sister instilled with the fear of my father, I took a big gulp of the black bean mush. I'm not sure if it was the taste or the texture that did it to me, but I ended up regurgitating the meal back up. My eyes watered as the beans shot across the table.
Instantly, tears sprang to my eyes. I began to hiccup with fear as the babysitter stormed down the hallway towards us.
"What in blazes hell is this mess? Were you playing in your food, girl?" she demanded. I wasn't able to respond. My sister quickly came to my defense and tried to explain what happened. Her words fell on deaf ears.
Now, I don't remember much about the babysitter. She was a black woman with short curly hair. The woman could have stood all of 5'2". For all I know, she could have been a dwarf with only one arm. But, in my memory, she was a massive Amazonian woman. She stood at least 7 feet tall. She was broad shouldered with muscles as big as my calf. She had blazing red eyes and a mouth that was big enough to eat small children.
That's how I remember her anyways.
She snatched me from the chair as she accused me of playing with my food. She marched me into the bathroom. There she ordered me to pull down my pants. I remember going into hysterics at that point. I also remember hearing my sister cry in the other room. With the wired handle of a fly swatter, she whipped me.
Dramatic? Yes. A therapy causing event in my life? Definitely.
Later that evening, I sat in a bath tub. My dad's girlfriend, Rita, had come to retrieve us. As she saw the bruises on my legs and buttocks, she gasped. I didn't say anything. I didn't have to. My terror and shame at being whipped in such a manner had turned to anger. However, I knew revenge would be mine. Soon, that horrible monster would get exactly what she had coming to her. It was inevitable.
See, my daddy was home.
He stood in the doorway and surveyed the damage.
"I'll be right back." was all he said. I can't tell you anything about the exchange between the babysitter and my dad. I can tell you she never kept us again. I only saw her once after that. She would barely look at me as she limped by.
And now I'll hardly touch a vegetable.