Some Things Just Aren’t as Important as They Seem


In the movies the hero, thrust into touchy situations, is often saved by a series of surprising circumstances.   At eight years of age I found that fact wasn’t necessarily so.


Our parents were called out of town on the night that my teenaged brother had been invited to his girlfriend’s home for dinner.  The invitation was hurriedly extended to allow my brother to drag along our little sister, Patty, and me to the beautiful, palatial home.


Patty and I had been lectured and threatened, so we were a bit shaken in the midst of all those strangers.   After introductions and brief comments from the adults we were stated in chairs too big before a huge table laden with shining plates and silverware.  No way was I was going to take a drink of water-those long stemmed glasses would crash in my hands.


The father, seated at the head of the table, began to fill our plates, asking each of us if we wanted to partake of the various foods.  Patty gladly accepted everything and then it was my turn.


“Potatoes”, he asked, serving spoon aloft.


“Yes, please,” I answered.


And so on down with each choice until he came to the meat.


“Tongue?” He was holding something awaiting my answer.


Horrors!  I had a mental picture of Old bossy in the field-and my stomach churned.  I saw my brother’s eyes narrowing, but in no way could I keep my lip from curling and my brows from furrowing.  In the movies there would be a family dog conveniently under the table ready to snap up the offensive meat.   But this was real life and I had to whisper, “Yes, please,” and accept my plate.


I was nibbling at my vegetables and pushing the tongue under my potatoes when I noticed little Patty bouncing on her chair.   That bounce at home always meant “nature” was calling, so I knew what I had to do.


My brother turned a bright, scarlet red as he asked for his sisters to be excused and we were pointed toward the staircase and a long hall.   We hadn’t gotten four steps out of the dining room when Patty began tugging on my sleeve and saying, “No, no, no!”


Then why were you bouncing?” I hissed.


“Cause I dropped my fork under the table.”


“A light dawned.  Here was a movie moment.  I could grab the tongue, dive under the table, retrieve the fork and leave the offending tongue.


As we re-entered the dining room the adults asked, “Back so soon?”


And, Patty piped up, “I dropped my fork.”


Much laughter, but my golden opportunity was gone, so while everyone was smiling at Patty and handing her another implement I squeezed the meat in my left hand unnoticed.


They brought in the chocolate pudding for dessert.  As I sat there gloomily I realized that in the movies the hero could put the tongue into the brown pudding, give it a stir, and be saved.  I wouldn’t get to eat any of the sweet stuff, but the family honor would be saved.


So, the visit eneded and feeling like the lowest worm I waited for my brother’s explosion on the way home.  Hadn’t he reddened during the meal?  Turned ashy as he died a thousand deaths at our antics?  It didn’t come.


He told us.  “I don’t think I’ll date Helena anymore.  I almost gagged when I ate that tongue!”


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri