My family loves pickles. I don't really know why, but we can eat tons of them. My wife finds them disgusting and reminds me of that often. She will also make a huge deal out of buying them for me, like I sent her to the corner to buy contraband and she had to run away from gun-toting psychos with the prize even though she despises them instead of just picking them off a shelf in the grocery store.
I remember loving them as a kid and eating them whole whenever I was offered one. I have cut back though. I eat a few slices of them on my sandwiches. Yes, I eat a dozen of the baby dills at Thanksgiving...and dilly-beans are like crack to me, but I don't eat huge pickles whole anymore. I blame my older sister for destroying my love of whole pickles. I'm lucky she didn't snuff out the joy of pickles entirely.
I was four or five. My sister who is around six years older thought it would be fun to play some pranks on her naive little siblings. She recruited my older brother as her minion. He was too young to know better...at least he claims.
My sister would take a whole pickle out of the fridge and carefully bore holes into it.
Okay...now is when this gets gross. You squeamish people should not continue. She would send my brother to gather dead flies from the window sill.
My brother doesn't have a hump, but I imagine him with one as he obeyed my sister's orders, shuffling along like Igor as he plucked the largest of the dead or dying insects from the ledge. Legs twitched and red eyes glared blankly at the boy who held them in his hands. You can imagine where this is going.
My sister thought this was hilarious. Don't worry. I'm sure karma has big plans for her. I didn't find out until years later. Maybe the passage of so much time left me less sickened, let me keep my love of pickles despite the nauseating truth. I wasn't so lucky with mac and cheese.
A few years later, when we lived in Louisiana, I got a steaming bowl of mac and cheese for lunch. I was excited as any seven year old would be by mac and cheese.
I dug in with enthusiasm. Okay...this is even grosser. Look away now if you have a weak stomach. Several spoonfuls in, I bit down on something hard, not crunchy, just firm. I worked it forward in my mouth and pulled the foreign object out. I assumed it was a piece of cardboard that my sister had dropped in with the batch as she dumped the box out.
I assumed wrong. What I held in my hand horrified me and continues to haunt me. It was the abdomen of a cockroach. Yeah...I know. I gagged and refused to finish my mac and cheese. No one put it in there, just managed to make its way into the box. My family made fun of me forever.
"Charlie ate a cockroach!"
"At least I don't know what a cockroach tastes like!"
"Want some mac and cheese, Charlie? Extra crunchy?"
I can't look at mac and cheese now without seeing this:
Even writing about it now makes my stomach churn. My only consolation is my family ate their bowls without incident, but what they failed to realize was the cockroach I pulled out of my mouth had been in the box and the pan with their yummy macaroni. They ate its boiled remains too and that makes me happy.