We all grow up with childish illusions about one thing or another. And I believe it’s a part of life that we learn parents won’t always be there for us, a tooth left under a pillow will just sit there, and no fat man in a red suit brings you shit for Christmas, unless you’re into that sort of thing.

So when confronted with a world that says all the magic is basically bullshit and we are sorry we lied to you all these years. I started to ask myself what about the other things?

There is comfort in our beliefs. They keep us warm like a cozy blanket while we suck our thumbs and spout philosophy. My beliefs comforted me and I believed that the more I questioned the more I learned.

The more I questioned science, the more I learned that science fiction could, and has become fact, and that was fascinating and interesting and drove me to learn more, and feed my analytical and creative mind. If you can dream it then it could be and this was enlightening and exciting and I read like a fiend.

On the other hand, the more I questioned religion, not God, but religion, the more I hit walls, the more I was told because, or because I said so, or don’t worry about it, and this started to frustrate me and piss me off. No one, not even priests had any answers that didn’t wind up with, “Well the Bible says…”

I eventually turned my back on the bible and religion and everything they had to say, because I believed the Bible was filled with stories. Some of which, if they are true, make no sense at all. I still enjoyed the philosophy and the metaphors and morals about life, but for me it was no different than science fiction.

I felt betrayed and lied to and I called myself an atheist.

Losing your beliefs can be a traumatic experience. I have always found solace in food. Big surprise huh? When I was in junior high, I tipped the scales at one hundred eighty pounds and just… grew into it.

Some of the things I ate… well… we didn’t have sweets in our house. There were reasons for this, not the least of which was three boys and a box of muffins was equal to gremlins eating chicken after midnight.

Since there were no sweets, creativity was called for. Sugar bread was an invention of mine.

 

Take one teaspoon of sugar / pour onto a piece of plain bread.

Spread the granules evenly using your finger.

Shake off the access and toast to desired texture,

Butter and enjoy.

 

I suppose that would be called sugar toast, well I made a lot of sugar toast.

Sugar bread was fine and worked in a pinch, but as with any addiction you’ve got to keep upping the ante.

I don’t know whether it was desperation concerning a girl at school… because there was a lot of that, or a bad grade on my report card… because there was a lot of that too, but one day I came in the house and just went crazy.

I had already created the microwave cheese sandwich on toasted sugar bread which is pretty self-explanatory, but this day. I made three pieces of sugar bread and toasted them. On one piece I put two slices of cheese and microwaved it. With the other two pieces I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I put all that together and created a triple decker peanut butter and jelly and cheese sandwich on toasted sugar bread.

I added a glass of chocolate milk, made with baking coco and sugar because, ha ha we don’t have Nestle Quick and contentedly, I ate my own heart attack.

The triple decker sandwich of death did its job. I was comforted. Especially on the day I ate three of them… in a row.

As far as vices go, food has always been it. Even as I grew up I never really started drinking. I saw enough of the effects of alcohol at every family gathering that it never appealed to me.

It’s funny, the fact that not drinking seemed to give me access to gallons of alcohol.

One friend of mine was moving out of his apartment as I was moving into it and he left me an entire cabinet full of booze. Now I was, and still am, a fearless experimental cook. So I took advantage of this and I learned the flavor of certain alcohol really changes things.

I heated a wok. I chopped some garlic and chopped some broccoli and chicken, poured in some oil and began to stir fry. In the cabinet I had everything you could imagine, vodka, and whiskey, rum, tequila you name it.

I selected a large bottle of Bacardi because I thought I remembered rum chicken or something like that, and I knew the heat would burn off the alcohol and leave the flavor. It would be an interesting experiment.

Now I am a sight person. I don’t cook by recipe, but I can’t just toss spices into a pot without doing a sort of eyeball gauge. So I stared into the sizzling wok, made a guess and poured.

Once upon a time in a fit of genius my brothers and I, lacking lighter fluid, started a barbecue with gasoline. It worked! And the fact that we almost died in the process is not really something my mother or father needed to know.

The following year my family moved to Texas and part of the appeal for a nine year old was I was told you could fry an egg on the ground. But there were times in Texas when it was so hot that you could not open your front door. It was the equivalent of sticking your head into an oven set to broil.

I wear glasses, and the one time I can say I was happy to be wearing glasses was watching as I poured rum into a sizzling wok.

The blast, that hit my face, was not like the barbecue or Texas.

When I was in school I hated chemistry class. I just didn’t get it, but I did learn one thing that semester. I learned that steam is hotter than water at the same temperature because as steam condenses, it gets even hotter.

My glasses thankfully protected my eyes from the blast of heat that erupted from the wok. It was deflected to my chin and forehead. With no real hair to speak of, my goatee and eyebrows took the brunt of it.

When a person is in shock or panics, they will either scream or inhale. As the blast of steaming alcoholic rum erupted from the wok with my face mostly buried inside of it in an effort to smell how it was doing, I inhaled.

I cleared my sinuses… No, that’s not true. My sinuses ran. I effectively snorted my own nose hair as the heat caused it to shrivel and disintegrate into ash. The bits shot into my nasal cavity and burned out all sense of smell. I jumped back dropping the bottle of Bacardi, pinching my nose and closing my eyes as the alcohol spilled over the stove and burst into flames. With one hand I beat out the flames and turned off the burner before heading to the sink to run water up my nose. For two days everything smelled like rum.

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