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Unadulterated

Published by JIM HARSTAD | Sunday, November 29, 2015 5:24 PM


Year of the Ram November entry -- 300 words


After a full three-quarters of a century of trying, I still have
trouble being adult. It seems I've just got no feel for it. Four
decades of high school teaching got me no farther than big boyhood. In
other words, as a teacher I was usually the biggest kid in the room,
albeit always the oldest. Sometimes I had to bully the other kids into
compliance, and I always did it as a bully, an overbearing peer with a
sarcastic mouth ("irony" I preferred to call it), never as a calmly
dignified, detached, distant, aloof, superior adult.

At Thanksgiving each year, my role as big kid in-chief gets additional
reinforcement at the family dinner. Along with local foods, we always
have a kosher turkey, courtesy of my brother-in-law, who knows it's my
inalienable right to take sole gustatory possession of the pope's
nose and his obligation to deliver same browned to a perfectly crisp,
juicy succulence.

Always big kid like in my food preferences, I find the pope's nose
particularly splendid, like the backstrap of young venison or the
cheeks of freshly caught halibut. When I finish my treat, always
before dinner, apart from prying eyes, I ask where I should deposit
the pope's boogers, the small bones the turkey uses to display his
feathered appendage in a proud fan.

Later, the true adults, most of them younger than me, compete politely
for thin cardboard slices of white breastmeat, while I sneak the neck
or the back. The competition for those flavorful prime cuts is
surprisingly minimal.

My modest adulthood aspirations go unnoticed by those around me and
completely unanswered by me. Perfect. The one thing worse than a
septuagenarian who doesn't act his age is a quadragenarian who
insists on acting mine.



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