I remember the times when my family and I would venture out into the forest to go camping for a few days. These were probably some of my favorite moments in my childhood. Everybody has a certain moment that lives with him or her forever. This was also my first memory of cornbread.
I watched my father mix the egg and 1/3 cup of milk into the batter and slowly poured it into a little pan. This pan would sit on our fire. I personally went around the campsite and collected all of the wood that was placed in the fire, and burnt my little 6-year-old thumb on one of the coals. Instead of saying, “Ow!” like you would think, I ran off into the night screaming. I don’t think I screamed anything intelligible, but I do remember falling over on a buried twig in the night and twisting my ankle.
So I sat still … screaming.
This time there was no running, my ankle was twisted. Being the over-dramatic drama queen that I was at age six, I desperately yelled for my mom to come rescue my from my descent into certain death.
As she found me, she discovered that I had not only fallen over a little twig, but I landed right into an ant hole. I showed her my little thumb, all blisterly like, and started screaming again as two ants scurried across my leg. In a heat of terror, I got up and started to run, tripping over the same twig as I had before. This time I didn’t scream. I realized that every time I screamed, I just got hurt again. So I asked my mom if she would kindly pick me up from my twig infested tomb. Like I said, over-dramatic. She put me on her shoulders and back to our campsite we went.
The haunting smell of the cornbread emerged as we came over the hill. My stomach started talking as it did whenever I smelled food. My dad once told me that when your stomach is talking, it’s trying to get out of your body so that it can eat the food before your mouth does. This always caused me to lose my appetite. But with the cornbread in the air, all I could think about was wanting to eat it. The pain from my ankle and thumb had left. I like to think that I gave the pain to those two ants that crawled across me. Bastard ants!
“Sean, do you want to try the cornbread?” my father asked.
“Gimme,” I replied.
So he gave me.
My mother, being the trendsetter that she was, ate the first piece. Then followed my Dad. I watched as their mouths moved in chewing motions and then swallowed the delightful cornbread. I watched this in envy, wanting my very own piece.
There it was. Right in front of me. It had nowhere to go.
“You have nowheres to go,” I commented to the cornbread, “except in my mouth.”
And there it went.
It tasted so good. It was like eating gold if gold tastes like cornbread. I wanted more, more, MORE! But there was none left. I spent so much time eating that one piece that my family ate the rest. I should have thrown a fit, but what good would that have done? Instead, I thanked my father for making me the greatest food that I ever had.
“I’m glad you enjoyed it son,but it’s time to go to bed.”
I never slept better.
Out in the distance I could hear coyotes. At least I thought they were coyotes, but my dad kept on insisting that it was an old dead woman coming to get my cornbread. I got up and ran away … screaming.