Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Red Menace

I was raised to loathe the Russians. Nothing personal. Just mostly that Communism thing from a few years back. It didn't help that I once lived in a place with nothing but a few stop signs between angry Russian tanks and me and my G.I. Joes. Add in some fatherly-mandated reading of Animal Farm and a worn out VHS tape of Red Dawn and you had the perfect storm for Commie hatin'.

Yes, the Iron Curtain is gone, but the lessons learned still resonate today.

No, I'm not a spy or some other interesting agent of national security.

I'm just dad. And I like ice cream.

Hungry before dinner, I find myself staring into the pantry. The shelves covered in various dried goods, non-perishables, and a few assorted snack items that may offer some relief and sustenance before I make dinner. As I mentally scroll through the limited options, that voice only I can hear kicks in again.

No, not that. There's only one left. She needs them for a snack.

Not that one either. Same deal.


You're joking right? She'll smell it from a mile away and will end up confiscating it.

Panicking, I grab a stale piece of bread and shove the entire fold into my hole at once. Hoping I can get it down before she finds out while not choking to death in the process.

What is this, Russia? The voice grumbles, out loud this time.

Shhhh. She'll hear you.

On mental-legs already exhausted from a day at the mines, I begin the family meal. My directives are simple. The meal must be done soon, relatively healthy, and of course not rejected by a two year old with a sensitive palate and swift temper. Once again, I bypass the exotic spices and accoutrement's of meals once made, for the bland and un-offending. I don't want to spend tonight scrubbing food off floors, again.

I recall the almost empty ice cream, hidden deep in the freezer, to be savored in the dead of the night once the guards kid passes out. I drift farther back to memories of earlier entire meals of chicken wings and brownies. Luxuries, once enjoyed before the Secret Police patrolled my home.

Mine! The all too familiar declaration stops me in my thoughts.

No mom-ma.

Mine. Mine. Mine.

The angelic voice of our beloved daughter carries well now that she's mastering speech. The commotion signals the wife is fighting her own skirmish in the bedroom. I dare not intervene.
The emergence of a confident toddler in the kitchen holding a cell phone and travel mug indicate the battle is over.

Mine. She says through narrowed eyes.

I present myself for inspection while holding my breath that she doesn't notice any evidence of my bread theft. Mid-hug, I scan the room for clues of my earlier crime from the corner of my eye. But she knows.

She always knows.

Wanna snack.


There is no bread honey. Wait for dinner

Breh. Mine.

Busted. Like a mother's embrace after you missed curfew, there's no hiding your sins from a toddler.

The dinner routine unfolds like always. Parents scrapping to feed themselves while appeasing the unappreciative toddler with the primest cuts. Everything must be shared but some get more than others. The conversation is tense but measured, the adults eager to not mention any key words that could incite suspicion.


Damn. My heart sinks as I shoot the wife a look. Still wounded and demoralized from the earlier battle of the bedroom her eyes say it all.

Give it to her.

Yup. Eye-cree-em. Moh. The little one endorses the plan. She doesn't add – or else. But it's implied. Countless nights of pain and suffering have taught us to choose our battles.

So there, at my sticky dining room table, I watch helplessly as my offspring plows through the last of the chocolate peanut butter. It hits me hard. The realization that my deepest fears of the Red Menace from my youth have materialized. My own little Animal Farm unfolding right here at my kitchen table.

Sorry, our kitchen table.

All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others. - Animal Farm

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