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She cried baloney, brother

Posted: August 16, 2015 - 12:08am

When he was 10 or 11, my baby brother hid in the woods and ate a mockingbird because he knew he shouldn’t have shot it. Desperation drove him to crouch on his haunches hidden in the overgrowth and nibble the meat from the hollow bones of a bird that never hurt anybody. His wife knows the story, and some folks might say it fully informed her about the character of the man she married.

Desperation resurfaced recently when he went public with his appetite for beloved bologna. If he only appreciated what goes into the molding of bologna, I believe the fiasco that followed would never have happened. Nonetheless, accepting that he should have put it away, he set his mind to saving a package of bologna he left out on the counter overnight.

The next morning my sister-in-law perchanced upon the smoldering package of meat festering in the warmth of its own greasy juice.

Women don’t take kindly to spoiled rations in their kitchens, particularly when wasted at the hands of a careless husband.

“Go feed this to the dogs,” she ordered and thrust the bologna package into my brother’s surprised hands.

On reflex, he grabbed the container of round slices. Then he protested, “Why? I’m gonna eat this.”

“You left it out all night. It’s ruined. And gross,” she said. Again, she told him, “Go feed it to the dog.”

Her disdain of fried bologna for breakfast stymied him. “There’s nothing wrong with this bologna,” he insisted. “It’s full of preservatives. It can’t go bad.”

Thinking about it stirred sentimental feelings toward the bologna of his youth. “They don’t make bologna like they used to. It was better when I was a kid,” he muttered.

“Then all the more reason to throw it to the dog,” my sister-in-law persisted.

He decided to stand his ground. “This is a whole package of bologna. I’m not going to waste it.”

His wife, a nurse, used her medical credentials on him, saying, “No you’re not. It’ll make you sick. Throw it out.”

He decided to give up his ground. Out the back door he walked, sulking and toting his beloved bologna.

Weeks passed and though there was tension on grocery shopping days, no one mentioned the meat again. Nor was any bologna bought to replace the disputed package.

Life went on. One afternoon when my brother was out cruising their property on the riding mower, his wife carried overflow items from the indoor fridge to the outdoor fridge.

She opened the door to place the items on the shelf, and there, peeking from behind a six pack of beer, was the felonious bologna, two-thirds of it missing. She was certain those slices were not in the belly of a canine.

She waited for her husband to return.

Hot and sweaty from his toil atop the lawnmower, my brother parked his ride and strode to the outdoor refrigerator, from which he extracted a beer and a single slice of bologna.

With the fingers of one hand he popped the tab on the beer and with the fingers of the other hand he rolled the bologna and drew it to his mouth.

That’s when his wife, unseen until now, spoke up: “You lied to me about feeding the bologna to the dog. And you’re eating it?!”

He froze.

That bologna never hurt anybody. He was obligated to eat it if he killed it. It’s the noble thing to do, he thought. But he said, “It ain’t killed me yet.”

There’s a good chance he’s taking all of his meals, now, crouched on his haunches, hiding in the woods.

Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run and other books. She lives in Thomson, Ga. E-mail Lucy at lucybgoosey@aol.com.

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