I never did like brussel sprouts when I was growing up, and to this day can remember the bickering that went on between my sister and me, because she loved brussel sprouts. I recall especially, saying to my mom, "Not brussel sprouts again, Mom," I exclaimed. "You know I can't stand them."
"Brussel sprouts are good for you, Mike," Mom answered. "Besides Sheila likes them. We can't afford steak every day."
"You like the dumbest things," I glared at Sheila. "Why can't you be a normal sister and want things like hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries"?
"I am normal," Sheila, screeched, clamping her mouth shut the instant she answered, not wanting the braces on her teeth to show." I like brussel sprouts."
"Don't even mention brussel sprouts," I shouted. "I can't bear the thoughts of eating those gross miniature cabbages."
"It doesn't mean Sheila isn't normal, because she likes brussel sprouts," Mom responded. "It isn't Sheila's fault we can't afford what you want every night. I don't want to hear anymore about it."
"When I get married, we'll never have brussel sprouts," I muttered. "If Sheila didn't need those awful looking braces, we could afford anything we wanted."
"Mike!" Mom warned. "I said, I didn't want to hear anymore about it."
I sat down at the table and started pushing the brussel sprouts around in my plate. Feeling nauseated as I crammed the gross tasting vegetable into my mouth. I stared at Sheila, her mouth displaying a thousand dollars worth of silvery metal.
"I better get my chores done," I said, shoving my chair away from the table. "I've got lots of homework to do."
I hurried to the barn, glad to escape the terrible aroma of the brussel sprouts that clung to the kitchen.
"I'll feed you boys soon as I've finished," I said to the horses as I dug the fork vigorously into the stall. "Be glad you don't have to eat brussel sprouts twice a week, and you can be thankful you don't have an annoying sister too."
"Get in the stalls, boys," I said, scooping up the oats, hurrying to feed the horses. I stomped up the stairs to the hayloft and threw hay in the mangers.
"How can you stand to eat the same old stuff everyday"? I said, looking down through the manger at the horse greedily chomping and grinding up his hay. "You're about as bad off as I am."
"If you never had anything else, you don't know the difference," Dad said from below, startling me. I almost fell into the manger.
"I didn't know you were down there, Dad," I managed to say in a squeaky voice. "Sorry, but I hate brussel sprouts."
"I'll let you in on a little secret," Dad grinned. "If you promise not to mention it."
"What is it, Dad"? I asked. "I wont say anything if you tell me."
"I don't like brussel sprouts either," he said. "Sheila does, so I don't say anything. Mom does the best she can to fix good nourishing meals. You shouldn't blame your sister. You know she needed the braces. We all have to sacrifice at times. You'll understand when you're older and have children of your own. Sheila didn't criticize you last year when you needed a new mattress for your bed."
"That's different," I mumbled. "I need something to sleep on."
"Sheila needs the braces too," Dad said. "Surely you can understand, can't you"?
"Yeah, I suppose so," I said, hanging my head, imagining a grown-up Sheila with buck teeth.
"Hey, Sis, need some help with your homework," I said, bolting through the kitchen door.
"Sure," Sheila said, trying not to smile. "I'll tell Mom I don't like brussel sprouts anymore, then maybe you wont have to eat them."
"Get real, little sister," I grinned. "You love brussel sprouts. Mom wouldn't believe you, not in a million years. Besides, who knows, maybe I can manage to acquire a taste for that nasty little green vegetable."
I never did get to where I liked brussel sprouts, but after that day I ate them and never complained. My wife never cooks brussel sprouts unless Sheila is coming for dinner. Then I force myself to eat just a few to be sociable.
Copyright © 1998 Jo Ann Lovelace. All Rights Reserved.