Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Autobiography of Someone Else - 16

Dinner was silent, though not solemn. Forks and plates clinked. We passed the blue-flowered Pyrex casseroles, butter, salt and dinner rolls with practiced efficiency and muttered courtesies. It was all about eating. Nobody cared about anything else.

When it was over sis and I dutifully cleared the table and scraped our scraps into the sink. I was old enough to switch on the garbage disposal and it still gave me a thrill. The momentary choke. Then the sucking pulverization of our refuse as it vanished into the unseen underworld, perhaps to feed some ever-hungry beast.

We scooped Sealtest Heavenly Hash ice cream into bowls and drizzled fanciful patterns of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on top. Mom and Dad hovered patiently, waiting to mix another round of drinks.

As dusk gave way to night we went down to the rec room to settle into our habitual spots, our unspoken assignments from time immemorial: sis and me on the beanbag chair, Mom and Dad on the couch. Left-right, left-right. Dad turned on the TV. After a few commercials the title came up on the screen, in orange letters and quotation marks over an aerial shot of a five-lane asphalt highway cooking in the California sun: