© 2011, 2018 Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
We all have a way of sticking things in our body to make us feel better. That summer of ’67, Sis and I became Amazon eaters, eating everything that was not locked up in my mother’s iron-tressed 1776 dated oak trunk; the one that cost her two cartons of Uncle Sam’s Lucky Strikes, the museum piece antique sister has appropriated, along with Dad’s house and all it’s museum contents. Sister, Sonja, and I were lucky not to have experienced a severe weight problem, just hamster cheek syndrome, as my mother called us, judgmental woman she is, after calling me Poposcheitel (Asscrack) for parting my hair down the middle.
I think it’s called a good, German upbringing, something about killing the spirit. I know she thought she loved me.
My mother started a modeling career when she was very young, cut short by the Nazis. At five-foot seven, one hundred-sixteen pounds, she was handsome like Garbo, with a prominently masculine Greek nose. To Mummy, same weight after giving birth to two children, we must have seemed obese, but technically, we were not overweight. We just had a height problem. In proportion, we should both have been well over six feet.
A height problem, and yet un-diagnosed psychiatric problems.
I think being a Berlin survivor during World War II, having survived the Berlin Air Lift, eating potato and carrot peel soup, tree bark soup, boiled thistles, beans. The Allied effort to fly food and coal in to Berlin in a plane every thirty seconds for near a year saved a people, and my mother.
The memory, the possibllity of having no food, there was never an empty spot in Mother’s cupboard. Her stash was so vast, she had to store the alcohol in the basement, and in Dad’s eighteenth century trunk (now confiscated by sis) she kept cooking ingredients:
chocolate, bakers and sweet walnuts,
scooter pies, and her private stash of imported Sarrotti chocolates, along with a year’s supply of
L’Oreal, Golden blonde Number 8-A, sent every year at Christmas by her Stuttgart based hairdresser, Herr Martin Bloom.
Mummy would hide the five inch skeleton key to Dad’s eighteenth century trunk (it really was hers along with everything else) then forget where she put it. “Whoever finds the key to the Truhe” trunk, all furniture pieces having German names “Whoever finds the key gets to eat whatever inside it they find” translated.
“No problem” I walked to her china cabinet in the dining room, opened it, took the lid off her silver butter dish, and took out the key. “You aren’t very creative in your choice of hiding places” I said “That’s three times now”.
“I guess you got tired of hiding it in your Meissen teapot” Sis laughed.
Sister and I ate out of frustration as well as appetite, whatever was not locked away, we ate. One day, having found the key, with the parents gone, Sis opened the trunk. She always was the instigator “Look, Graham crackers, and Fluff marshmallow topping.”
I gasped “She’s got canned icing, — and scooter pies!”
“Here’s a bag of shredded coconut, and candied fruits.”
“You can have the coconut” I dug deeper “I don’t like coconugt. Here’s a jar of artichoke hearts.”
“Gimme those” Sis grabbed “You can have them for a packet of Graham crackers and three scooter pies”.
“I’ll give you the crackers, but not the scooter pies, and I want half the tub of ice cream when we get in the refrigerator” I said.
One day, I overheard Mummy talking to Dad “George, theze children are eating me out of Haus und home. I want you to find a way to keep zem out of my cupboardz”.
Dad obliged, and started by drilling holes into the cupboard façia. He affixed U shaped metal loops into the holes, secured them from the inside with a bolt, placed golden Yale padlocks through the metal loops, and locked the cupboard.
“Kiki, look” he called her by nickname “This ought to keep them out of your cabinets.
“Oh, George, won-der-ful” Mummy was pleased with her husband’s ingenuity.
The locks on the cupboard kept my sister and me from eating, for a few days. Between us, we might have lost a few pounds, until the night at home without Mummy’s presence, we got really hungry. With Dad downstairs in his den reading, we removed the panel separating one cabinet from the next, and snacked on Oreos, Nutter Butters, and Lorna Doone Sandies. More was missing, but Mummy didn’t notice. As kitchen thieves, we were geschickt, clever.
One Saturday afternoon Mummy was involved in her weekend hobby, baking, grabbed her skeleton key, and went downstairs to the trunk for a bar of Baker’s chocolate.
“Wer hat mir meine Schocolade geklaut?” I heard her angry cry ring through the house.
“She sure sounds off gepissed” Sis honed in on Mother’s mood.
We disappeared. Later that evening, I overheard Mother and Dad again. “George” she called him that because that was his name “Theze kidz are eating me out of Haus und home. You have to extend your dezign. You have to block off all ze cupboardz.”
Dad extended his design to include the row of cupboards “That should keep them out” he set his tools aside “Kiki!”
“Won-der-ful, George.” For a time, Dad’s prediction was right, but the row of three golden Yale locks across the cabinets could not keep growing kidz out of Mummy’s double door refrigerator.
One day Mummy’s new friend, Britta, another blonde Berliner, paid a visit to the Home “Kiki, vhat iz zis?” she asked, seeing the row of golden locks “Kiki, vhat iz zis?” she asked.
“Theze children are eating me out of Haus und home” Mummy’s mind was on how much she was saving at the grocery store, calculating how much more she could have saved if she had she us both out of diapers before nine months.
“Feed zem pea-nut but-ter and jelly sandwiches” Britta chuckled “Zey are nutritious. Kidz love ’em.”
“Pea-nut but-ter, pfui” Mummy was indignant. For a moment, Mummy forgot she had designated to to the poor category upon Dad’s retirement two years earlier. Mummy tolerated the smell on Dad’s breath (he hid his peanuts in his glove box in his car) as long as he did not bring them into the Haus.
One afternoon I overheard Mummy. She talked a lot so there was always something to be overheard “George, now ze children are eating us out of ze refrigerator. To zis you must put an end”.
“I will get right to it, sweetheart.” “Up wiss zis I vill not put.”
Dad was eager to carry out orders. He dug through his rafters, pulled out a bicycle innertube, and a long industrial chain. I’ll slip this chain through this tube, that will keep the chain from scratching the doors. I’ll run the innertube through the door handles, affix it to the rear coils, and secure it with a lock.
That kept us out of the refrigerator, for about a week. One evening, with the parents gone, Sis went out to the garage “This is ridiculous” she fumbled through Dad’s toolbox, and carried a metal hacksaw back into the kitchen. came back into the kitchen. “Hold this taught” she handed me the chain, covered by the rubber bicycle tire tube.
“Oh” the penny fell. I’d learned a new word.
“Don’t let it slag. Hold it tight.”
I held the chain taught. Sis knew exactly how to find the weakest link “Hold on now” she sawed through the link after only five minutes, and it fell to the floor.
“Now we can eat again” she pulled the innertube through the handles and set it on the countertop.
“Look — Cool Whip” she opened the freezer.
“And sherbet. Grab a spoon.”
“Mummy always says, ‘Nicht mit dem silbernen Löffel’.”
“She has nothing but silver spoons. Take the ice cream scoop. And here’s a cooking spoon. I’ll meet you upstairs” she ran up the stairs to the master bedroom, pulled the 13 inch television out of the closet, and plugged it in. I joined her on the floor. We feasted on ice cream and Cool Whip, while she fine tuned her criminal mind watching ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’.
Sis pulled the innertube through the refrigerator doors while I slipped the magic link back in the chain, and pulled the inner tube forward. If Mummy were to suspect anything, we might assume Dad had been snacking, something he, as keeper of the keys, was allowed.
Today I understand, Sis and I were assimilating into the American culture of using food to stuff feelings and emotions. We all have a way of sticking things into our bodies to feel different.
Late one afternoon, (second) martini in hand, (the best state in which to approach Mother), Mummy was cooking. She set her martini on the counter, slipped back the innertube, inserted her key into the lock, and the weakest link fell to the floor.
“You children are ingenious” she laughed “Your grandfather would be proud”.
This time, she gave in, and the chain and locks went back into Dad’s garage collection. In spite of her children having access to the contents of her refrigerator, the cabinets were locked, the trunk key always easy enough to find, sometimes even on her bedroom dresser. So she locked more treats in her trunk.
Mummy was a terrific baker and cook. She prepared tasty meals with good nutritional value nearly every night, always served at the perfect temperature on monogrammed linen tablecloth set with monogrammed British silver.
Sis and I faked sanit.
Then Mummy found it necessary to send me into foster care, for someone else to look after her son’s needs. There was no room in the house or family for Alan.
We all know how most foster home experiences go. If not, click Like and share, that others may learn, too.
To learn why it is not always a good idea to “Save” when it comes to our kids’ health, link onto my post and read Dad’s Weights and Skates. And so it was, that spring of 1966, toward the end of the decade when everything in America changed.
There is one life.
This life is God.
This life is perfect.
This life is my life now.
This life is perfect thought,
This perfection is mine, as I claim Divine Cause.
I accept all good.
I give thanks, and go one step further. I am grateful.
I release my thoughts, knowing my word returns to me multiplied.
And so it is.