As well, a few enterprising souls dabbled in the fine art of winemaking. At least they thought they had it down to an art form. Having sampled such offerings, I could’ve downed a jar of vinegar and it would have proven a more delightful experience. I concluded homemade vino was an acquired taste, and by that I mean either your taste buds were corroded or, you were my brother.
It wasn’t my responsibility to pack brother’s school lunch, yet one day it fell to me when Mumsie was running late for our carpool—otherwise known as parent-sanctioned persecution. To say I absolutely despised the two ghouls we rode to school with is a friggin’ understatement. One might expect they grew up to be decent men. If not, one hopes life pulverized them into a greasy paste.
But I digress…
Fixing my brother’s lunch, I slapped together a peanut butter, jelly sandwich tossed in a rubbery carrot or two and whatever cookies were lying around chucking it all into his lunchbox. Dropping the butter knife into the sink I looked over at the drying rack and discovered his thermos. D*mn it! I’d forgotten to pack his apple juice--the magic elixir that kept my brother’s bowels in good working order. Now really in a rush, I ripped open the refrigerator door snatched the juice dumped it into the thermos screwed on the lid and jammed it into his lunch box. If twelve ounces of apple juice couldn’t keep him regular then it only proved my theory he was a mutant.
Once mum abandoned us at the school’s curbside, I headed for my first class of the day, Algebra—and not a subject I excelled in. Personally, I’d rather have stuck a fork in my neck than to solve the equation for X. Kill me now. Still, by the time I went to lunch my day had gone nominally better than brother, who had fallen asleep somewhere between science and math class. When the teacher couldn’t rouse him, she called in the school-nurse to assess the situation. Fortunately for him, he wasn’t sick. Unfortunately for the nurse, once she unstuck his head from the desktop, she was almost knocked out by the fumes wafting on his breath. Brother was totally bombed.
Eventually, someone phoned Mumsie and the wrath of WCSS descended upon the school like a hammer strike on an anvil. Furious, she demanded to know who in the hell fed her FAVORITE child alcohol!
Quite right, excellent question! Off with their heads!
Once brother awoke from his boozy lunch, he handed over his thermos and the blame landed squarely on me. Wasn’t my best day for sure. However, in my defense the apple cider, water and homemade wine were all clumped together in old Paul Mason glass carafes. To the untrained eye the apple wine and apple cider looked similar and very easy to mistake especially when in a hurry.
Later, at home and once my hearing returned after sitting through the parental-unit's tag-team, screech-fest vocalized at a decibel level still hovering over Lake Antoine, I skulked off to find my brother. There, in his room, I found him draped across the bed boneless, a tad green and looking like something the cat horked up. Curious, I asked him when he first realized he was drinking the homemade vino.
“Oh, right away,” was his answer. I then asked why he continued to drink that God awful swill and he said, “Cuz it was good.”
all content & images property of L. Campbell
Until I made friends beyond my Italian neighborhood, I had no idea Crème de Cocoa liqueur wasn’t actually a topping for ice cream—Gnocchi never made it on the menu at the first Thanksgiving dinner—or that the end of a loaf of bread is only known as the 'Culo' in an Italian household. Intrigued? Then kick back with a glass of vino and take a glimpse into my life growing up Nort’ side.