It’s strange how the brain remembers certain things. It associates memories with the smallest of elements. It could have to do with all your senses, or even one. Like how the smell of campfires reminds me of Christmas at my grandmother’s house. All the men in the family would sit out on her patio to burn boxes and paper leftover from Christmas morning. Their beers in hand, they would talk about their year and play with toys of their own. One of my uncles had received a bottle cap launcher and was trying to hit empty cans.
Other instances come to mind. I will never forget this one Thanksgiving. I take that back. It wasn’t Thanksgiving, yet. It was the week before while I was still in school. I was in elementary school. We had some sort of potluck. Each person brought a dish from home to celebrate the coming holiday.
This is where it went wrong. Honestly, you can’t expect to tell elementary school kids to make something for people to eat and have everything go as planned. There is always one kid who messes it up.
Some kid decided that he would bring a combination of mashed potatoes, jello, ketchup, and some type of meat. You can imagine how it looked. It was pinkish and jiggly. If you moved the plate, the entire form would move until it ran out of momentum. I can’t describe the smell. It was like meatloaf mixed with the slime you make out of glue. I think the teacher got nauseous looking at it. She asked the child to place it in the middle of the table. Better looking items covered it up.
We all lined up to get what we thought was a well-balanced Thanksgiving dinner. I was fifth in line. I watched all the kids before me. I avoided the pinkish blob with all my strength. I followed their example. I only went after items that resembled things I would see at my family’s dinner table. Everyone went through the plethora of goodies. Everything got picked at least once. Well, not everything.
As we sat at our tables talking, the kid who brought the infamous dish approached my table. As he spoke, a challenge laced his tone. My best friend and I eyeballed each other. We were the queens of the classroom, and no one was going to tell us what we could, or could not, do.
We got up and walked over to the table. Our teacher had disappeared into the hall to socialize with other powerful figures. The pink goo was taunting us. We each took a spoon and wiggled enough loose for a bite. I held it in front of my face and turned to look at the peanut gallery. Everyone in the room had stopped to look at us.
I looked back at my friend. She was green from inhaling the scent. Being the rebel I was, I stepped up to the plate. I plunged the spoon into my mouth and swallowed without tasting, or smelling, the goo. It wasn’t bad. I ran for my soda and downed the entire cup. I tried to eat what I could to distract my mind from the taste. It tasted exactly as it was described. The texture was so disgusting it took away from the taste. I was fine. My friend had forgotten her spoon and returned to her seat. The class took to watching my face as my stomach tried to comprehend what it digested. Fear filled the room. This only made keeping down the food a harder task.
Even now, the water I am drinking doesn’t taste the same. As I said, the mind can remember some sensations perfectly. I can remember the taste. It was pretty much indescribable. I didn’t even feel like throwing up after I ate it. Minutes after I ingested death, I began gagging. The whole class dispersed into corners of the room to avoid me. I ran for the trash can and began heaving. That kid's disaster bought me a trip home.
I was legendary. After we came back from break, I was infamous. No one would dare challenge me again. We all knew that, when put to the test, I would come out on top. But, I still can’t eat jello or anything that wiggles when I move the plate. It brings back the worst memories.