It’s not that my son is a picky eater; it’s just that he’d starve to death before the noon rush at any grocery store in America.
He once perused the morning buffet at a luxury hotel restaurant (We have teenage boys. To us luxury means any hotel that doesn’t make us pay a security deposit when we check in.) for three quarters of an hour before demanding to be taken to McDonald’s. Nothing says Breakfast of Champions like a McBiscuit with the outside crust peeled away.
His specifications are exact. He does not eat ugly food.
Ugly food is defined as any food that is unattractive in appearance or that comes in contact with any other food or food-like item during its processing or preparation. Therefore, my kitchen is under constant supervision. It’s like living with a member of the Board of Health who doesn’t clean his room or brush his teeth until threatened with government action.
“Mom,” Son #2 peered in the pot of steaming, frothing liquid and wrinkled his nose. “Are you boiling chickens again?”
“Didn’t you just boil a chicken at aunt KJ’s house this weekend?”
“Yes, I was helping her out in the kitchen.”
Son 2, in disgust, “Do you have some sort of addiction to chicken boiling?”
“I’m going to make chicken salad.”
“Are you sure this isn’t some kind of cult ritual or something?”
“I’m sure. Back away from the chicken. It needs to boil another hour.”
“Do we need to have an intervention?”
“No. This is not a bizarre ceremonial rite. You have to stew it before you can make other things with it.”
“Like what? Some sort of nasty chicken potion to smear on your victims? Does it eat their flesh? You know, like zombie chickens.”
“Son, if you don’t like chicken salad, you don’t have to eat it.”
“You’re trying to trick me. You’re going to feed me some kind of boiled chicken serum to make me do your will.”
“That’s ridiculous. I create the potion for making you do my will out of the parts I take out of the chicken.”
“Like the heart.”
“At least I'd have a heart. Are you lying?”
“Yes, I am. I’m not going to waste a perfectly good bird just to make you obey me. Besides, it doesn’t work.”
He pondered this tidbit. “That’s because I’m not eating it. I shouldn’t even be breathing in the fumes. They’re probably poisonous. Or hallucinogenic.”
I didn’t know words with that many syllables until I was in college. “There are pizzas in the freezer. I don’t care if you eat chicken salad or not.”
Where’s the feet? Are you wearing a chicken claw around your neck?”
“For goodness sakes. That’s the Mother’s Day necklace you and your brother gave me. The pictures are a little fuzzy, that’s all.”
“Sure, Mom, if that’s your real name. I’ll be wanting to see some identification at dinner.”
“Get out of the kitchen.”
“Oh, now you’re worried, aren’t you? You’ll probably try and disguise the chicken in my food.”
All the boy eats is frozen pizza and Captain Crunch. It’s hard to disguise chicken parts as rogue Crunch Berries.
“That’s right. Beware of anything you eat or drink. It may be contaminated with chicken broth.”
“That’s it. I’m making a pizza.”
It’s amazing how people who won’t eat freshly thawed meat by-products will roast a frozen, artificially colored and flavored disc to a golden brown and slam it down like filet mignon just because it says pizza on the box.
Come to think of it, I'm going to make some chicken soup. They say it cures what ails you. And in this case what ails me is a free-range teenager who’s chicken to try new food.