This morning in the office I wandered into one of the various kitchenettes on our floor to refill my water bottle when my nostrils were assailed with the nasty stench of oatmeal.
I can stop right there I hear some of you saying...stench? Oatmeal is a wonderful, fine breakfast food. With all the courtesy I can muster...stuff it.
Yes, stench. Not os obnoxious and odious as the swill that passes for eggs in various vaguely omelettey forms served up morning by morning around our office that I subtly try to improve by farting in the general direction of...but stench nonetheless, and one I have strong, not overly fond memories of. Memories that were called so vividly to mind by the mere malevolent odor that I physically relived the following event from decades ago.
See, once when I was maybe ten or twelve I was over at my friends house overnight. I always feared those nights...who knew what food I was highly unlikely to eat would be served? And proving my fears well-deserved, this occasion saw us served oatmeal for breakfast.
How on earth did anyone decide this was an appetizing food? Its appearance resembles dirt stirred into water with chunks of water mixed in, the type of thing little girls get in trouble for making when mud pies are inaccessible.
Its texture closely resembles a gooey paste such as one might find useful in a kindergarten craft project. Or spackling the walls. Regrouting the tub. I can think of many likely uses for this concoction, none of which resemble anything that should come within a mile of my mouth, much less my stomach.
In fact, oatmeal has more than a passing resemblance to things that entered my mouth, enjoyed time in my stomach and, having completed their vacation in my body are headed out to sea...or at least to the nearest waste treatment plant.
Anyway, when the oatmeal was offered I attempted to politely decline. This was unacceptable. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and not to be skipped and the parent of this particular friend was going to see to it that I ate.
Full disclosure, and not to my credit; this parent was someone I had never particularly cared for and, in fact, often went out of my way to avoid. Why I ever agreed to stay the night in there house is a moment in my life I will forever regret and never overcome.
With that in mind, coupled with just the slightest hint of stubbornness which some extremely unreasonable people have been known to claim I have, there was trouble a-brewin.
Sure enough, she insisted I sit down at the table and have some oatmeal.
I tried taking a spoonful. A small spoonful...you know those glorified slivers of silverware meant to limit sugar intake? One of those.
My clever subterfuge was detected and a large spoonful was generously added to my portion. The kind of oversized, wooden spoon heaping spoonful that, closely followed by a second, had the bowl filled to the brim.
The battle was well and truly joined.
I tried a small bite, retched, nearly threw up, washed it down hurriedly with...I don't recall, probably milk.
It was insisted my reaction was an act.
It was not.
It was insisted I continue with the tried and true failure of an admonition, "Try it. You might get surprised and find you like it."
Memo to you; I just tried it. The total lack of surprise was surpassed only by my dislike of everything about the nasty, foul-smelling, worse-tasting mash of gruel and porridge that was so heinous that not only my descendants threw up, so did my ancestors.
On went sugar, another bite was tried.
More retching, washing down with fluid, discussions on the likelihood of my consuming another bite, threats I would sit there until it was gone.
Various attempts to flavor it up were attempted. Arguments proceeded. Time passed. No more oatmeal passed my lips. Accusations came forth that I was faking.
Other accusations, more valid, that I was stubborn, also were encountered.
The battle of wills was titanic. The outcome was predetermined. The chances I would ever so much as try oatmeal again were locked in at nil. The chances I would ever spend time at this person's house again were locked in at slightly less than those of my trying oatmeal again. So much so that, even though I was generally an obedient kid overall who loved my parents very much, I once threatened to run away on the spot if they left me in this persons care while they went to Portland.
As a side note; I was later left in the care of someone who knew this story when Dad took Mom to a doctors appointment. We had a similar war over whether I was going to eat a tomato. On a completely unrelated note, to this day when I see big chunks of tomato on a pizza, I pick them off, throw them on a separate plate.
I have been known to gag and wretch at the very scent of tomatoes.
I am sure there is a fine moral here somewhere about how, even if things are theoretically good for someone, you cannot force it down their throat, by I would rather sneak in the 18 (by my count) jokes in this post. Hopefully you found the humor. If not, stop by for breakfast. We are serving oatmeal.
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