I found myself sitting at the lunch table of my future in-laws, not understanding a word that was being said and watching with growing distress as an enormous bowl of Brussels sprouts was placed directly in front of my plate. Oh No! This could no be happening. But sure enough, my smiling mother in law picked up the overflowing bowl and offered it to me. There was no escape…
As a child, there were many things that could tip me over the edge, but there was only one that would follow me through to adulthood.
Raised as one of three daughters, by a widowed father, life looked nothing like the Brady Bunch from where I sat. There was little else to do other than pick up a broom and learn to keep house from an early age.
Cooking would come later. Until I was tall enough to be able to see into a pot on the stove, this crucial part of life was left to my father. He had a few specialties, one of them was Brussels sprouts, cooked until they were dead, grey and revolting.
Meals were eaten at the table. Plates were cleaned before leaving the table, and nights when Brussels sprouts featured, were small lessons in hell.
We did eventually learn how to outfox the perpetrator of our torture. By sitting long enough, pushing the nasty little critters around our plates, we could ensure that eventually our father would give up in disgust, push back his chair and declare us an ungrateful pack of brats…then troop off to watch the evening news. This was our chance. By packing our cheeks full of the offending vegetable, we could make a break for the bathroom…one after the other…and spit the sludge into the toilet. It is a wonder that we didn’t manage to block it, considering how often this act occurred. And so it was that I declared my ever lasting loathing for Brussels sprouts and a promise that I would never eat them again.
I should have been suspicious after she vigorously offered it at least five times. I at least, should have twigged when I noticed that Mr Dear Husband would not make eye contact. The little beasts seemed to glow with kryptonite like potency… urging me to “eat up, eat up”. I chopped those little beggars into a million pieces. I hid them in my napkin, in my pocket, under a lettuce leaf… anywhere other than my mouth. Still, no eye contact from Mr Future Dear Husband.
Back in our room, I gagged and coughed and made all manner of fuss. “Why would she do that!” I cried. What could have possessed the woman to force feed me the one food on earth that I could not stomach?
“Well….” and he started scratching the back of his head, the tips of his ears warm to a ruby red and he is clearing his throat.
“Perhaps because I told her that Brussels sprouts are your favourite food…” He steps back a couple of paces and brings his hands up to protect his head.
“I’m sorry, it was just meant to be a joke. I thought it would be funny.”
I let him live. But believe me when I tell you that his little joke would cost him dearly across the next 20 years of his life.