tiaras optional

"My only argument is with those who do not view the world as cynically as I do." Michael Korda

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mr. Yuk Is Mean, Mr. Yuk Is Green

To really get the full impact of the story I'm about to tell you, you have to know a little about my childhood. I was raised by a mother who was deathly afraid of germs, food toxins, and generally any kind of bad thing one might accidentally ingest. While shopping, she ruthlessly examined all canned goods for any sign of a dent (botulism kills!), and she had the Poison Control hotline on speed dial. Once I inadvertently colored my tongue with a magic marker (long story). First, she washed my mouth out with soap (I am perhaps the only child in history who has had her mouth washed out with soap for reasons other than bad language). Then she got right on the line to Poison Control. Although I was only six or seven, I remember thinking that something made for kids probably wasn't toxic. That thought apparently never occurred to my mother.

Growing up in that sort of atmosphere, you can either become completely crazy and avoid anything potentially dangerous, or you can go in the opposite direction and not worry much about anything. I went in the latter direction. (This may have something to do with my father, who was pretty much the opposite of my mother and used to do things like feed me raw ground beef.*)

Anyway, fast forward many years. A few weeks ago, I offered to cook dinner for my mother and grandmother. My mother's dietary restrictions (she's pretty much only allowed to eat dew off petals**) mean that there are only two or three dinner options available, and I was bored with all of them, so I figured that I could easily cook something within her restrictions. I brought all the ingredients to her kitchen and got to work. She tried to micromanage the whole endeavor, and she forced me to overcook the chicken because she was convinced it wasn't going to be done enough not to give us salmonella. The only ingredient I got from her kitchen was a tablespoon of olive oil.

"You used the olive oil in that cabinet?" she said, in a tone that implied I had taken the olive oil off a public bathroom floor.

"Yeah." I didn't want to ask, but I did. "Why?"

"Well, it's just that it's really old."

"How old?" I said, examining the bottle.

"I don't know. Maybe a year or two."

"That's nothing," I scoffed. "It doesn't have an expiration date on the bottle. I'm sure it's fine."

"If you say so," she said, which is of course what people say when they don't believe you.

She did manage to choke the dinner down, and it wasn't terrible (although a bit overcooked, which was totally not my fault.)

A few days later, she called to thank me for cooking.

"It was really good."

"No problem. I like cooking," I said.

"So, I hope you don't mind, but I was a little worried about the olive oil," she said.

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Do you remember the Poison Control hotline?"

This is a ridiculous question. OF COURSE, I remember the Poison Control hotline. The Mr. Yuk jingle starts running through my head and I try my best not to curl up on the floor in the fetal position. "Yes."

"Well, I looked them up and it turns out they're still in business," she said, sounding delighted.

"Huh. You would think most people would just look stuff up on the internet these days," I said.

"Oh no. They're a much smaller operation now, but the woman who answered the phone was so nice, and it turns out they're located just up the road."

Fascinating. "But did you feel sick after you ate the food?" I asked.

"No. We were both fine. I was just... concerned," she said.

And it turns out that, according to the nice lady at Poison Control, the olive oil probably wouldn't have killed us, although it's always possible that if it was old enough, some bacteria might have grown in it, but it would have only given us garden variety food poisoning and not actually killed us.

So, that was ok. More problematic is the fact that my mother actually thought I had tried to poison her and my grandmother. Sigh.

*So delicious.
**Courtesy of Lila.

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  • At 4/10/09, 12:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    ** I'd like to think I'm the courtesy...but really it was courtesy of one Karen M.


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