Introducing an Unexpected Villain

English: Picture of Val Beans (Dolichos lablab).

English: Picture of Val Beans (Dolichos lablab). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lima beans have always mocked me.  There is no gilding that lily.  As an adult I more than avoid them; I run screaming from them.  As a bit of a foodie, I see them on menus as an accompaniment  and immediately eliminate that entrée from the range of possible solutions.  Even now they influence my worldview and limit my choices. Yes, I am scarred.

Growing up my mother made vegetables every night.  Well, not every night.  There were no veggies when we had spaghetti or pizza.  Or omelets for that matter.  Whatever.  Most of the time we had frozen vegetables.  I liked peas.  I liked peas and carrots.  My sister hated peas, so we didn’t have those two as often as I’d have preferred.  We never had asparagus; daddy hated asparagus. (My mother calls him daddy.  I call him Pop, but I refer to him as Dad.  Sorry to digress.)  My mother often chose the mixed vegetables, frozen of course.  We didn’t eat canned vegetables nor do I recall fresh veggies, other than carrots and corn.  No, I will not be hearing arguments that corn is not a vegetable.  It was when i was 10 and it still is now.  Mostly.

In retrospect, I’m glad we didn’t eat canned vegetables. Let’s be honest, they basically suck.  I often keep a few cans around for emergency pantry meals, but as I have gotten older even that bothers me.  I like my vegetables fresh.  No, I am not going out of my way to eat a ton of vegetables.  But I eat some.  Celery, carrots, bell peppers and root vegetables often find their way on to my table.  I make a mean butternut squash soup and Lambchop often requests my brussel sprouts.  Yes, they do happen to have a fair amount of bacon hidden in the bowl.  No one will accuse me of trying to force vegetables on my spawn, but I try to maintain the illusion.

But I digress. My mother fed us the house brand frozen vegetables from the store she shopped at.  Safeway? Lucky? Nob Hill?  Doesn’t really matter, does it?  What I recall is that the peas and carrots in the mix were fine.  The stunted string beans were weird and there was an over population of  lima beans that tasted like dry bat guano.  I hated eating those.  Ok, hate might be a bit of an understatement.  They mocked me as I was forced to eat them.  I could not get them down.  I tried. I failed at least as often as I succeeded.  Do you think that encouraged my mother to not buy those vegetables?  Of course not.  I think once or twice she even made “just” lima beans.  At least she only made liver and onions once.  The same with “salmon burgers.”  Canned salmon sucks, period, especially to a 12-year-old.

The details are fuzzy, but I recall some bits.  I must have been somewhere between 8 and 11 — maybe younger.  When dinner was done, I had 10 minutes to finish those vegetables that mocked me.  How do I know I had 10 minutes?  There was an egg timer.  Seriously.  I often tried to wash them down with milk.  Two problems with that solution.  One, they were too big for my petite throat to swallow whole.  Second, I was not allowed a second glass of milk.  This might not seem like much to you, Gentle Reader, but to my fragile psyche it was the seventh circle of hell.

I might have left out a few salient points.  If the timer had been set, my father was already pissed.  How dare I not eat the vegetables my mother bought with his pay that he labored for!  At 10, I didn’t do well with pressure.    I’m sure you are thinking, fine so there is a timer, it’s just vegetables — it is not like it was Edgar Allan Poe‘s “The Pit and the Pendulum.”  You’d be wrong.  The bell would ring, my very large father would yell and I’d be ushered off to bed, crying at my failure.  I’m sure it was 6:30 or 6:45 at the latest. Being early, I would be wide awake, reminded of those mocking beans; a telltale heart continuing to echo my incarceration and impending doom.

Clearly you realize that this blog is cheaper than therapy, not that I really need it. My upbringing is reasonably rich history from which to pull ideas and topic.  On the other hand,  I’m sure that many you know I make sure my parents don’t forget about lima beans the egg timer.  Or the preferential treatment my brother got.  I think he’s appreciative that I took those 9 years to break our parents in for him.

And just like that mediocre independent film, this post just ends, leaving you wanting more.  But no more lima beans please.

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A Modest Apology

Earlier this week I decided that I would participate in National Novel Writing Month.  Lambchop has nudged for this off and on for several months.  I don’t think I have a novel in me, but what is the harm in trying? I mean besides my own ego.  I am sure you’ve noticed that my blog posting is irregular.  Sometimes I have 3 posts in a week and other times I can go two week s till I force myself to find something to write about.  More often the trouble is finding things I can write about.  No sense in digging myself into a hole.  Sadly I blame it on my muse.  She is as fickle as four-year-old picking out lollipops.

This has been an interesting year and a time of change.  No, I don’t think it’s my mid-life crisis; it’s still over the horizon, lurking behind the earth’s curvature.   At this point in my life I know what I do and do not do well.  Rather than focus on what I know I can do, I think I should stretch and try something I am pretty sure I’ll struggle with.  That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right?  I hope so.

I’m sorry.

My first order of business is to apologize in advance.  I am positive that I will offend at least one person.  My imagination is not nearly as well-developed as it could be.  Someone will see themselves in a character.  Others will recognize a situation and say “How the fuck could Lee write that! He knows I don’t want people to know about that.”  They’ll know.  They’ll see.  They will know I know.  They just won’t know who you are; unless they already do.

I’m sorry.

Once wasn’t enough was it?  Seriously, it never is.

In a perfect world, the words will flow and images and concepts will transfer from mind to fingers to keyboard to keyboard to internet to you.  We both know that won’t happen.  I will probably find comfort and inspiration in the bottom of glass.  That worked well for Poe and Hemingway, and we know how they turned out, right?

Why am I doing this?  I don’t know.  Probably just because.  It is a good enough answer to give our kids, so it must suffice now.  But don’t think I’ll stop watching football, cooking or miss my niece’s bat mitzvah for this.  I won’t.  I guess it is as much of an obstacle course as it is a mental stretch and marathon.  Great.  I have the body all athletes aspire to.

In the end, it really is just an experiment.  I have no illusions that I’m the next George R.R. Martin or James Patterson (ok, I don’t read Patterson, but the Monkey does.)  With a little luck and perseverance it will improve my post quality and frequency here. We will know on December 1st, won’t we?

Now it is time to stock up scotch and maybe some of Evil Twin’s Wet Dream (damn that stuff is great.).  I already have plenty of wine. You knew that.