I am seated at a kitchen table. My mother prepared a sandwich for me. Oddly, there was nobody else around. I wanted to go outside and find my brother but it was me and her and the sandwich.
A four-year old could see it was a careless sandwich. It was made with white bread, which is the only bread I knew about. And Velveeta™ cheese which looks like this:
And was the only cheese I knew about. The cheese was cut with one of these things:
Which has a roller to guide it but still results in a thick wedge. The roller is adjustable but you have to thoughtfully maintain a constant angle, slicing like a ninja, or else the slice comes out wavy and cut like a wedge instead of an even and flat slice. This matters to a four-year old. Shut up, it just does.
Dressed with mayonnaise. Crust on. All four corners intact. See, children have baby teeth. Those corners matter to children. They've only just started gagging this stuff down.
I bit it. First bite, a wedge of carelessly cut cheese squeezed through the mayonnaise and out of the bread. This sent a chill down my spine that locked my jaw and throat shut.
I knew I couldn't go on with that sandwich. I told my mother I couldn't eat it.
She towered over me like a giant. An angry giant. She bent down toward me and scolded,
"You are going to sit there and EAT that thing. The whole thing. And no messing around. You're going to sit there. And when I come back you best have eaten that whole thing."
Then she left.
I nearly shat myself. I was terrorized that I couldn't satisfy the demand. I began formulating the possibility that this woman known as my mum didn't love me all that much and that was a dreadful realization. That sandwich informed me to the degree of my mum's affection.
In haste I jumped up and threw the sandwich in the trash. When I saw it there on top of the trash bin I realized she would see it. I had to find a better place than that to ditch the sandwich. I looked around. Noticed the space between the refrigerator and the counter. It was dark in there. I held the sandwich by a corner and rocked it back and forth and tossed it through the slot. Then I dashed back to the chair. Mum returned almost immediately. That was really fast and the sandwich was gone.
"What did you do with the sandwich?"
Here was the greatest crisis of my life. I did not know what to do. She came back too quickly and now I was stuck. She wasn't supposed to question what I did. She was supposed to assume I ate it and I would slide through the situation. If I told her what I did, and now she's demanding I tell her, she might wring my neck.
I know: I'll tell her I ate it even though I didn't.
A chime rang through the universe but no human heard it. Something was summoned. Something invisible connected. Something was brought into circuit. All in a moment.
In that moment the world opened up. The whole world opened. The future unfolded outward in vast concourses, flap flap flap. The whole future was like a giant funnel aiming right at my little self in the chair and that whole vast future-scape was dramatically altered because I realized in that moment I could say anything I liked even if it didn't match the real thing that happened. The shift that created was immense. The possibilities were literally endless and it blew my mind. I sat there blown to bits. I had discovered so early a master's technique that would give me advantage over everybody else for MY WHOLE LIFE. I could make up stuff about everything!
"You are lying."
" I can read it all over your face."
The whole thing collapsed. Just like that. I am a liar and it shows on my face. It is not a unique discovery at all. There is even a word for it! All that possibility that opened in that instant in the very next instant collapsed. Two colossal instances right next to each other, three if you count the crisis that provoked them. I could hardly stand it. Sandwich? This event is about lies.
It was a big thing. It was the first moral/ethical decision that I made and I failed, and the memory of that failure is permanent. It has not faded in the slightest as if I had lied my first lie and had it all come crashing just this morning. And that is why I can really do without Velveeta cheese even though its melty goodness is perfect for certain things.
Here's the thing. I realize this happens to everybody, a thing so common that the moment the first moral/ethical decision is made goes largely unnoticed and by most unremembered, but I don't see how. How something so mundane on the outside and simultaneously so huge on the inside not be seared? I felt it marked the moment I became human. Everything was different after that. That does happen to everybody. One of your moral/ethical decisions was your first. What? What was that day like? Was it like a Charlie Brown cartoon where something happened in the third panel and in the fourth panel you go, "ooph" ?
This page is not an orphan. It belongs to a post made to Things Wot I Made Then Ate.