If you happen to be a vegan or are easily disturbed by the thought of your food having parents, please navigate back and enjoy one of my other entries.
As I sat on the beach with my family - watching and waiting for large waves to knock select kids off their feet - we gorged ourselves on a fabulous spread. All manner of farm beast sacrificed its life, likely while hoping that we, the world's flesh-chewing citizenry, might one day die of ruptured colons.
Lodged in an undersized folding chair, I soaked up heavenly ultraviolet radiation and watched 11-year-olds choke on salt water while I munched on mustard-soaked Bratwurst. Like a wise, old instant coffee commercial for horny moms once said...you should celebrate these moments in your life. If it weren't for an overabundance of giggling children and typical beach distractions, the experience might have been pretty close to nirvana.
[...A mother cackles as her two, naked little boys run around wagging their naughty bits at everyone. A seagull relieves itself over a Nimitz-class middle-aged guy covered in fur (and by some miracle scores a near-miss). Seals incessantly bark in chorus...]
I tore into a half-bloody piece of Tri-tip steak; wistfully watching the water surrounding a floating platform covered in sunbathing seals. "C'mon shark, c'mon...Well, where the fuck are you?"
Meanwhile, my sister and parents had noticed that a nearby teen - no doubt motivated by a deep-seeded desire to see children break their necks - had dug a sand pit no less than five feet deep. I don't know how, but somewhere along the way, the picnic conversation deviated from...
"Ooo, ooo, please pass me a piece of Tri-tip...no, no, that one."
"Yeah, that pit reminds me of when we would have to clean the chitlins and squeeze out all that boo."
Any outside shot I had at achieving oneness with that beach instantly vanished.
For those of you unfamiliar with the horror that is a pot of chitlins, I'll explain. If you are to believe my parents and relatives back in South Carolina, chitlins (correctly and more frighteningly spelled chitterlings), are apparently something you put in your mouth and swallow. They're essentially a throwback value meal from times when having a better tan than your average Dixie cup could possibly arouse lynch mob suspicion.
Back in those days, the most delectable, tender portions of poo-covered Wilbur were reserved for folks of both greater means and lesser pigmentation. Enter chitlins.
Unwanted by the then-overclass and therefore affordable, chitlins have somehow stuck around into the 21st century. But then again, so have "tripas" and "makchang gui" and other global variations of disgusting intestinal snack-age. That doesn't mean I've got to allow others to form their own opinions on them though.
I can hear a few of my vegetarian acquaintances cutting me off at this moment. "Umm. What about hot dogs and sausages? You've still got mustard on your shirt from a meal that consisted primarily of hog lips, teeth and assholes... And they're sometimes encased in intestines."
To which I respond. "Well, do hotdogs look like lips, teeth, assholes or intestines? The grossest organ they even remotely resemble is nowhere near the intestines."
Ignorance, faked or otherwise, really is bliss.
You need a healthy imagination to mentally assemble a chicken out of a fried drumstick. But there's do denying, particularly when the kitchen smells like a truck stop restroom, that a pot of chitlins is hot-boiled-poo-pipe.
My parents, quickly snapping to the realization that the North won, cutely attempted to disown their own backwoods histories...
"That was your father's family that ate that stuff."
"Nooo, no, I didn't eat that."
"You know you did."
"So did you."
"Nah-uh...Well, I remember coming to your house for the first time, and I saw fish heads looking up at me from a pot of boiling water."
[laughing] "We didn't throw anything away."
[ laughing] "Well, that's for certain!"
Here's a bit of background on dear mum n' pa: My dad's family is centered in an area around all-too-appropriately-named, Lynchburg, South Carolina. My mother hails from somewhat-less desolate Conway, South Carolina. (If you're reading this mom, don't start dancing a victory jig. My fondest memory of dear Conway involves a HUGE black snake crawling up to the the sliding glass door and watching us during an evening meal at Grandma's house.)
Don't get me wrong, everyone out there are your average American citizens beyond the accents and an honest-to-God pleasantness in disposition. Their personalities really seem to fall in line with the notion of "southern sweetness." But, as much as I love my family, if any relative of mine offered me a hot bowl of shit-ter-lings, I would tell them I recently had my stomach removed and no longer eat. I simply can't deal with the thought of the wringing of fecal frosting from a pig's digestive tract being an integral part of meal preparation.
I adore sushi. I've eaten and enjoyed cow tongue tacos. I believe that animals, for the most part, are delicious. But...
I...will...not...eat...hot-dookie-ham. I will not eat it, Sam I Am.
As explained by mom, the story goes that my Uncle Buddy, initially shared my disdain for the stinky stew. After having dinner with a military friend (who probably still keeps a sharp lookout for Confederate soldiers), he eventually realized he enjoyed the stuff. He lovingly began referring to the putrid dish as "wrinklesteaks."
I swear whean I heard "wrinklesteak", I almost spit up chunks of spicy sausage on one of my sister's stepkids. It instantly gorilla'd its way into the VIP section of my vocabulary; flanked on the left by "shenanigans" and "dingleberry" on the right.
So, on that sunny day, I happily learned that even my parents find the idea of stinky pig intestines coursing through human entrails somewhat revolting. Well, at least in public. I also learned that for the love of God, if somebody asks you if you if you like wrinklesteak...you scream "NO!"
Nothing good can come of saying anything besides that.