Thursday, April 16, 2009

GREEN OLIVES

After school, every evening, I used to listen to the radio. Mom allowed me to snack on 12 pods of shell peas. I'd eat them slowly. Make them last. When peas went up in price, Mom made me carrot sticks. I sneaked a handful of pods, then a double handful, and got a stomach ache. Mom knew, (saw the almost empty bag of peas in the pantry) and raw peas were no longer allowed.

At the dinner table my sisters and I were allowed just one green olive. I longed for two.

Is wanting more a matter of greed? Is wanting to be stronger than your sister competition? What about wanting more dresses, more pennies for my Empire State bank, more dolls than my best friend, Mary Ellen, who had a collection?

After I won the "Count the Feathers in the Turkey" contest that the Evening News ran on the page with the comics, I loved winning. I'd tasted success. The prize was a polished brown wooden bookshelf. It had a "World Book Encyclopedia" on its shelves. I liked looking up things, browsing through them, but more than that, I liked that I'd won them.

I didn't win any other contests. By the time I won best costume at Halloween, and won a state art contest, I was onto other types of competitions. Splits, leaps, elevation, high extensions. And then ... other things.

It keeps changing, but when I "win," (celebrate) quite often I reward myself with olives -- eat all I want. JC knows this and buys olives for me, brings them home with champagne. He does most of the shopping when he's in a play on Broadway. After the show, stops at a neighborhood store because it's never crowded after eleven p.m.

Knowing I was happy about what's been happening with my books, last night JC handed me a paper bag -- a pound and half of fresh shell peas.

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