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Friday, September 5, 2008

Prey

I’ve come a long way over the years. I owe a great deal to my wife for shaping the man I am today. She has enlightened me on some of the simpler things in life.
I vividly recall my savagery at the Olive Garden on our first date. Are you familiar with the large bowl of salad they provide? It is intended for the entire table to share.
I remember my wife as she nibbled at a few leaves and deferred the bowl to me. Rather than transfer a reasonable portion to my small bowl, I proceeded to eat directly from the large bowl. I swooped low and extended my elbows, as if to protect my spoils from unknown threats. As the salad dwindled and the remains became too tedious to collect with my fork, I lifted the large bowl high to my mouth, arched my head, and shoveled every last morsel into my mouth.
You can imagine my wife’s embarrassment as others gawked at my blatant disregard for decency.
Perhaps she noticed my size twelve shoes, but she decided to stay along for the ride and over the course of time molded me into a man of reasonable manners.
Despite my wife’s best effort, deep down inside me resides a predator born some 29 years ago. Buried behind my brainwashed veneer is a man of simple animal needs.
Those needs resurfaced last night when my wife presented me with an entire chicken. My ensuing barbarism has left me a conflicted man. My instincts told me to be proud, but my wife’s eyes told a tale of shame.
At first the chicken was carefully shaved and presented to me neatly on a plate, accompanied by nutritious side items. It was adorable how all the food groups were represented. I worked slowly on my meal at first, allowing my wife plenty of time to finish her meal. As she left the table, she reminded me that there was more chicken left.
“Hmm…I could go for more chicken,” I whispered.
I entered the kitchen and there it was; a beautifully mutilated chicken carcass, glistening in the light. I could see the hidden meat treasure among the bones.
I approached it slowly and carefully like a lion toward his prey. With my wife outside of ear-shot I pounced on the dead creature and pulled at it with my bare hands. With explosive burst, I consumed the animal tissue without discretion; ligaments and flesh alike. Once a section was clean to the bone, I would rotate the animal and continue on earnestly, fearing perhaps another man would stumble upon me and threaten my prey.
It wasn’t until my wife entered the kitchen for a glass of water that I was snapped back into humanity. I stood there with a large ring of grease around my mouth, my hands littered with bird parts and tendon oils.
“Honey, what’s going on in here?” she asked.
I stood silent for a while, unable to think.
“Umm…the chicken, they were coming for the chicken,” I replied frantically as my eyes bulged from my head.
“Honey, nobody’s coming for the chicken...it’s just us," she said while rubbing my back gently, "Nobody’s coming,” she said calmly.
I was possessed by thoughts of the old days. I wasn’t starved as a kid, but the food was just scarce enough that dinner time was about getting what was rightfully mine.
To survive in my house you had to gather and horde. When Mom brought home Food Club Nacho Tortillas, I had two options. I could eat the entire bag at that very moment before somebody else sees them, or I could hide them like a squirrel for a rainy day.
Even to this day, when I see my brothers, my first instinct is to look for the nearest food supply and defend it.
This food-shortage paranoia carried on for many years. We’ll call it FSPS, or Food Shortage Paranoia Syndrome. Even when many of my brothers had left the nest, I would hide every last nut and berry in the house from my poor father. Fortunately my wife has helped me manage the problem without the aid of any medication. She’s assured me that she only wants her small portion, and that she’ll never lunge for my plate. I’ll have to keep my eyes on my son. He’s not getting any smaller.