Tuesday, January 15, 2008

From: Snook (The Elder) at Home

Of Rotten Tricks

Here's a thing.

I was having a post-funereal feed at the local Legion Hall just now--along with all the other mourners (whose collective contributions, I should say, made up our feast)--and a woman who I didn't know approached me to inquire whether the deviled eggs were any good. (I supposed at the time that she had seen me bolting one or two at the serving table before putting another fistful atop the teetering pile of my plate ... Death for some reason always puts the glutton in me. No doubt because of the recent reminder that, one day, he'll take it out again and altogether.)

I told the woman that I was no aficionado of eggs, deviled or otherwise, but that I thought these more than passable.

"Phew," she said, and drew a pantomime hand across her sweatless brow. "I was worried they weren't any good."

"No, no," I said, not getting it yet, and going so far as to pop another in my mouth to reassure her, "they're quite tasty. Eat!"

"Oh no, thank you," she replied. "I had my fill making them. I think I'll just try some of the potato salad."

... It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which people will go for approval.

But I ask you: what if the eggs had been awful? And what if I had told this Jezebel-in-a-dowdy-frock that they were so? What then?! I'll tell you what! She would have sniffed at me, and said in a defiant but trembling voice that she was sorry, that that was the best she could manage on such short notice and under such trying circumstances, and then she would've rushed from me, whimpering, making a great show of wiping at her eyes. Mrs. Snook would've been mortified past reckoning, and I should've been reminded of her humiliation for months, indeed, likely, for years to come! Dish and cat-litter duty doubled and, needless to say, no more egg and bacon breakfasts on Saturdays.

That I so narrowly missed this unpleasantness left me giddily light-headed the remainder of the meal, and it took some doing persuading the people with whom I was sharing my table that I hadn't overdone the wine--in spite of the fact that there wasn't any--as well as the food. (I've had experience with this sort of thing before; after a certain age all you need do is repeat "Oh dear!" once or twice, loosen your collar, rattle a Tic-Tac box in your fist a bit before shakily swallowing a few. Bob's your uncle.)