Life has taught me that there have always been opposing forces in this world. Yankees and Confederates. Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Cupcakes and diets.
And of course the most famous set of opposites….my mother and my husband, Seth.
Meet my mother. A pillar of strength, the epitome of self-control, stalwart defender of truth and fearless conqueror of germs. She can say “no” to homemade pecan rolls and has not gained or lost more than 6 ounces of weight over the last 50 years. She always wears her seat belt. She keeps the Clorox people in business. She never purchases anything off QVC. And she hasn’t ever even bent one of the Ten Commandments — if she had a fleeting thought about it, she repented immediately.
And then there’s Seth.
He thinks the Ten Commandments should have an “exceptions” section, or at least be amended. His weight rolls over like an odometer, and his favorite snack is in the ice cream cooler at Marsh — they are called “Fat Boys” and he can eat a whole box of those boys in one sitting. Once he actually spent money on a glow-in-the-dark item out of a vending machine in a truck stop bathroom. He uses the coffee table for a footstool, burps at the dinner table, speeds on the interstate and finds belly button lint hilarious.
Last week, the two met at the dinner table in Lee County, Va., at my parent’s home. A great feast was spread in front of — and between them. My mother is civilized, so the battle began politely.
She scrutinized the contents of his plate and made her move.
“Seth, have some baked beans.”
I cringed. Seth is the only person I know who doesn’t like baked beans, which is surprising, considering their potential for creating gas.
“I don’t like ’em.” He said it without a trace of apology in his tone. Seth isn’t afraid of my mother, which is still more proof that he isn’t the brightest star in the sky.
“You don’t like baked beans? Well! I didn’t know that.” Then she turned on me. “Theresa, did you know that?”
“Yeah, I knew that.” Seth only likes about 12 foods. I pretty much know everything about him, because I’ve studied him for decades. If he dies before me, I am donating his brain and taste buds to science.
“Well, why didn’t you tell me?” she demanded.
I thought for a second. “Because I like baked beans.”
“Hmmm. OK then.” She pushed another bowl in Seth’s direction. “Then have some Waldorf salad?”
I almost choked on a bean. Seth is convinced that Waldorf salad will kill him, because he claims that walnuts make his tongue burn.
“I don’t like Waldorf salad.”
The final straw was his rejection of her dessert, due to the presence of pineapple. “I don’t like pineapple,” he said with zero emotion.
I was in awe. He had guts. It was like addressing the president as “dude.”
My mother’s jaw sort of shifted to one side of her face, and she pressed her lips together and frowned. The doomsday clock moved closer to midnight. I realized I was holding my breath, waiting. I didn’t have to wait long.
“Boy, Seth, I don’t know how you manage to stay so fa... I mean HEALTHY.”
Opposing forces like day and night. Sweet and sour…
Theresa Timmons’ column appears every first and third Sunday. She is an Elwood resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.