Last week, I started old school, and tomorrow, my first homework assignment is due for my class in memoir writing. I’ve already completed the assignment, and anticipate a fairly decent grade, but I’m worried about my classmate Barry.
Barry is 81 years old, and up until 11 years ago, he was in the poultry technology field for more than 50 years. He says he is gay even though he has never had sex with a man…or a woman. His statement made me a little wary, so I asked him if he had had sex with a chicken. He assured me that that was not—nor would it ever be—the case. I dropped the subject.
I’m worried about Barry not because of his gayness, but because I think he might receive an F on his homework assignment. Our teacher asked us to write about our favorite childhood foods. After class, Barry confided in me that he wasn’t very keen on revisiting his childhood and recalling the slaughter in which he participated. “You see,” Barry told me, “I was raised by wolves.”
Now, I was raised by a military officer, and I don’t think being raised by wolves could be any more traumatic than that, but Barry insists he will be ridiculed and persecuted if he puts down on paper the somewhat grizzly meals he consumed as a child. “I just know that other people are going to write about fried chicken, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and stuff like that,” said Barry. He looked around to make sure no one else was listening, and said, “You know, Em, I wish I could have eaten that kind of stuff, but mostly what my parents gave me was raw, bloody sheep. Damn, to this day, I can’t even wear a wool sweater.”
“Well,” I told Barry, “why don’t you just write that you liked mutton as a child, even if it is a lie.”
“Oh, I couldn’t lie.”
“Ok…uh…I’m sure you probably ate something else besides sheep once in a while; there must have been something you liked.”
“Well…yeah,” said Barry with a guilty look on his face. “There were a few treats.”
“Then write about them,” I suggested.
“I don’t think people would understand Em. I mean wolves have different appetites than humans.”
“How bad could it be Barry? People eat animals all the time.”
“I’ll tell you, but you got to keep this to yourself, Ok?”
“Sure Barry, no problem. I think you’re blowing this way out of proportion, but go ahead.”
“Well, when I was a kid my favorite things to eat were aliens.”
I just sort of stared at Barry, thinking Alzheimer’s hat set in. “Aliens?”
“Yeah, the wolf pack I lived with was based in the hills of southern New Mexico. About once a month or so, dad and my uncles would go out for a sheep kill, and as they were stalking, they’d run across an undocumented alien who had gotten lost. He didn’t stand a chance. It was sure a great change of pace from sheep, and I always got the ankle.”
I think class tomorrow is going to be real interesting.