Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gross Out Night

Life wasn't all "life on the farm" as I'd described in my first blog. In fact we, my brother and I, had several "lives" growing up due to my parents changing relationships and frequent geographical relocation. Life with Mom during those years following my parents’ divorce and extending into the 70’s, was in many ways very different than life with Dad, and in other ways much the same.
The philosophy of letting kids be kids and allowing lots of creative playtime was shared in both worlds. My mom, however, was more restrictive when it came to health in general and specifically food; food and vitamins.
At that time life with Mom included my Moms roommate/best friend/partner and her three children; two boys one my age and one a year younger and a daughter my brothers age. We were sort of two separate clans, the big kids and the little kids when it came to certain rights and privileges.
 At that time my Mom had befriended several women who were as my father described them “Health food nuts”. These women were fans of a popular author at the time, Adelle Davis, who wrote books about nutrition. All of her book titles began with the word “let’s...” “Let’s eat right and be Healthy”, like we were all invited to some big happy bland tasting gritty food party. My Moms best friend who we lived with briefly following the divorce, used to have a cupcake tin on the kitchen table, which was the vitamin tray. Each rusty little cup help and handful of vitamins, a rainbow of colors. They all had one thing in common, they tasted nasty and they represented to us kids, a classic parent/child power struggle.
The vitamins weren’t the only issue. We ate homemade what bread, sugar free cereal, fruits and vegetables were a must. There were no potato chips, soda, ding dongs, twinkies, t.v. dinners or any of the other “fun foods” we saw on television and at friends houses.
Our mothers cared about our health and proper nutrition and EVEN THOUGH WE COMPLAINED ENDLESSLY, I think we knew, even then, that that was a great gift of love.
I order to lighten the burden of having to eat “Health Food” and to encourage cooperation, the “Big Kids” were allowed the privilege of “gross out night”.
Gross out night was on a weekend night, I can’t remember if it was Friday or Saturday, but it was the same night the old cheesy horror movies were on. The ones with disembodied hands that strangle innocent sleeping victims, mummies being summoned odd looking men muttering odd sounding incantations, monsters that devour teenagers while they are making out in their car or on the beach. You know, the classics.
In addition to staying up late watching our grainy black and white t.v., the one with the broken antenna that was wrapped with tinfoil, we got to choose and prepare our own desserts. Even then we were limited to foods that were not too highly processed, not too filled with chemicals and artificial colors. Naturally we took our culinary
The usual permitted fare was ice cream, pudding, graham crackers or Nilla Wafers and some sort of chocolate sauce or Ovaltine. Being that is was the weekend, the late 60’s and our Moms were enjoying the newfound liberation of divorced life I don’t recall there being much supervision while we concocted our compensation for a week of healthy eating. The best, and most often indulged in treat, involved using all the permitted ingredients, combined in one bowl.
Here’s the recipe:
Line your bowl with graham crackers or Nilla wafers, add a heaping scoop or two or three, of ice cream, pour hot pudding (we only had the cooked kind back then) over the ice cream, top with more crackers or wafers and whatever other topping was available, Ovaltine, Hersheys etc.  Grab pillows, blankets, jockey for position in front of the tiny tv making certain you’re in a position that won’t cause interference with the antenna and enjoy watching 1950’s looking teenagers getting murdered.
It doesn’t get much better than that.