by Terri Coop
It was the summer of 1965 in a small town in California. It was blistering hot, but I didn’t care. I was five years old and surrounded by cousins at a family picnic. I was young. I was happy. I was about to be betrayed in the cruelest way possible.
Yes, Mom. I’m talking to you!
How could you do such a thing?
The worst part is I should have known it was coming. I overheard my mom and my adult sister making a bet. It was simple enough. My dear sweet beloved mother had bet my dear sweet beloved big sister that a kid would eat anything if it had gravy on it.
I was sitting there, wide-eyed and innocent, eating a dill pickle (and probably scooping up gravy with it) while this diabolical plan was being hatched. But, being five, I had the attention span of a dragonfly and was soon off playing.
Until we were called for dinner and I walked right into their trap.
I took my plate from mom. A chicken leg (yummy and crusty, no “grilled with a bit of lemon zest” here). Some Jello (it my favorite flavor - red). A carrot stick (because you should). And a big fluffy mound of savory buttery mashed potatoes with just the right number of lumps, all smothered in brown gravy.
At least that’s what I thought. Until I took a bite.
Hiding under that brown gravy was boiled mashed cauliflower.
In her madness to win, my sainted mother had substituted boiled cauliflower for mashed potatoes on my plate. I was evidently the designated test case. All these years later I still remember the taste. The smell. The texture. When you expect mashed potatoes and get boiled cauliflower, it is indescribable and devastating.
I don’t remember much after that. I hope I spewed all over the table. And all over my clothes. And all over her apron. Because, mom, let’s face it, you deserved it. My only consolation is that she lost the bet.
Terri Lynn Coop is a lawyer by day and a writer by night. Some four decades later she tastes everything before she puts gravy on it and has never voluntarily eaten cauliflower in any way, shape or form.