Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ham Tree

There's a slim chance I have trichinosis.

So yesterday my kids and I were waiting outside for my daughter's school bus. About ten minutes before coming out my son noticed that I'd made him lunch. Part of which was a ham sandwich. So after nibbling some bread he took all the ham and stuffed it into his hand and began eating it very slowly. By the time we went outside he'd only nibbled off a miniscule amount and was quite adamant that he should take it out with him. Remembering that my neighbor had dourly warned us two and a half years ago that my kids may be carried off into the night by savage racoons - like a prize white woman claimed by the Apache's - because it's so damn country where we live (it isn't - it's just small) I knew to keep an eye on him.

While out my daughter set about constructing an art project. She would gather branches that had fallen from the trees and then ask me to stick them in the ground so that they looked like trees. She then fetched a coffee can and hung it off one of the branches. After that she spent far too much time sprinkling mulch over the branches - none of which defied gravity and hung in the air. Although - like many artists - she may have been behaving pretentiously and was trying to transfer energy from the mulch's aura to the fallen branch. My son saw all this and thought it looked ace. So he wandered off into the back yard (closer to where the Death Racoons no doubt were hiding - biding their time...) to look for a good branch. Once he had one he brought it back for me and motioned for me to stick it in the ground. After doing that he began to carefully and deliberately decorate the tree with little bits of ham. I didn't know how much he had left at this point but he did manage to get a few straggly pieces to stick. The dog spent quite a lot of time hanging around him at this point knowing that you should never pass up free ham - even if it is oddly warm because it's been palmed like a magician's Ace of Spades. The tree was rather lovely - if you like post apocalyptic Mad Max style topiary. When the bus arrived the dog ceased any allusions to restraint and just dragged the whole branch off into the back yard to gnaw the ham-leaves off of it.

With my daughter safely off to school my son, the dog and I went off to the consignment store I mentioned yesterday. My son was pretty quiet the whole way there. When we got in there I took my son into the room with all the kids stuff and let him play with all the stuff they had there. I perused the shirts and tried to see if they had any more lined-jeans. Ten minutes later I grabbed the boy and took a squizz at the clothes in the men's room - hoping vaguely they'd have an England football shirt or some of those awesome lumberjack shirts still in the packet that they tend to have in these places. All in all about fifteen minutes in I wander back to the kids room to grab the stuff I'd set aside and see if I missed anything worth getting. Which was when the lady told me my son looks like Clark Gable.

While I was obviously thinking way too much about how that's weird my son raised his fist to his mouth and started nibbling something. A good 45 minutes after he first picked it up my son was still holding a chunk of ham. Which is disgusting. It had been incubated by his fist and was now warmer than he was. And as succulent as ham is supposed to be, it isn't supposed to be this wet. Obviously now I want to get rid of this ham. Obviously I can't ask the old dear if I can throw my ham away. That's weird. I'd been there for ages and it would seem incredibly odd to suggest that I carry warm ham on my person to feed my child if he gets peckish. I couldn't just reach past her either to the only paper waste basket I'd seen in the place and drop a thunk of ham into it. That warrants an explanation.

I fleetingly had two ideas at the same time. One was to casually walk up to the old lady there and claim that I'd found some ham in the men's room. But the sordid nature of that may disturb this woman so greatly that she might not feel comfortable volunteering to work any longer somewhere that men secrete unwanted ham like that. Add that even though the sign above the coats in that room does say, "Men's Room" verbalizing it does sound an awful lot like I'm saying that I was in the toilet, lifted the seat and there was some ham. Which is ten times as disturbing as the first idea.

The second idea was to hide the ham. Maybe in a corner or under a table. Or worse - in the pocket of something. I'm ashamed to say that before my conscience reminded me that behavior like that is very very wrong I decided against it based on the fact that with such veracious racoons in the area it's probably not advisable to be hiding ham all over the place. And the untraceable smell would be horrific. I've located uneaten food in my refrigerator that was slightly out of date and it reeks. A ball of ham stuffed into a sow suit pocket is going to stink something rotten. It reminded me of a story about a housemate of mine in college who hid an opened bottle of milk under the floorboard of a house he lived in - and then shortly moved out of. The absolute rage and despair at smelling something rotting like that but not being able to find it would be maddening.

So I can't hand it in like lost property. And I can't hide it. And I'm not letting my son continue to rub warm ham all over everything either - especially himself. His hand stunk at that point and I was very aware that I'm about to go hand over my $2.66 for this shirt, Thomas DVD and plastic Lego train. So I did what was the only option left over to me. I ate it. It was very wet, unusually warm and I could even taste some very warm mayonnaise on it that had been on the bread from the sandwich and my son had been sweatboxing all this time. I then spent the next few minutes thinking my gob stank like a pig's whoopsie and hoping no-one had seen me wrestle old ham off my son and then ate it defiantly in front of him to prove my alpha manliness.

It should be around noon today that I'll find out if I have food poisoning or the onset of trichinosis. If I don't post anything for a day or so then suspect the worst.

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