Madeline and the Meandering Meatball

Madeline is my youngest, older sister. When we were kids, she would often remind me that she was two years my senior between August 9 and November 1 of each year. I now take solace in the fact that I am two years her junior for the same period. This story happened when we were both teenagers and hardly ever apart.

We were celebrating Madeline’s birthday at a friend’s house with a few joints and some loud music. We lost track of time and suddenly realized that we had to rush home for supper. Because Madeline was my mother’s favorite, Mom always cooked a grand supper for her birthday. That year’s specialty was spaghetti and meatballs. It was a 20-minute walk home, but the time went quickly – perhaps due to the nice weather or possibly to the mind altering substance consumed on the walk home. Either way, Madeline was in an altered state of mind upon arriving home for supper.

My father noticed first. It was obvious to him that Madeline and I were both stoned. Since this was before the misplaced stash of pot and a complex father incident, I assumed that Madeline and I were both about to be in deep doo-doo. I was both surprised and grateful that he appeared to be letting us slide on this one. Then things started to get a little strange. Mother served each of us a plate of spaghetti with unusually large meatballs. My father and I set out to eat the meatballs, but Madeline just stared at her plate in wonder. Then she picked up her fork and began what can only be described as a painfully slow and poorly executed attempt at stabbing one of the meatballs. At least, that is how it appeared to me. The problem was that she kept missing the meatball with her fork. My father looked at Madeline and then at me. Madeline remained fixated on the meatballs. My mother looked at my father, then at Madeline, then at me. Madeline just kept staring at the meatballs, still attempting to stab one of them with her fork.

The silence was deafening, but occasionally shattered by a “clink clank” sound of Madeline’s fork as it hit the kitchen table after careening off the rim of her dinner plate. Mom, Dad and I just stared at Madeline as she systematically pursued her relentless attack on the meandering meatballs. Clink clank. Click clank. This continued until someone, perhaps Dad, came up with the idea that Madeline must have come down with that nasty flu bug that had been going around. Clink clank. Click clank. I was tasked with helping Madeline to her room. Note to self – if ever in a similar situation, then remember to ask the person with the fork to let go of it before proceeding. Clink clank, duck fork, clink clank, duck fork.

The next day, I asked Madeline if she recalled what had happened at supper the evening before. Apparently, she thought the meatballs were trying to escape and she was simply trying to catch them. Shortly after this incident, Madeline became a vegan.

I think about those poor meatballs every August 9 on Madeline’s birthday. I have been wanting to tell the story of the meandering meatballs for some time, but I could never come up with an appropriate life lesson learned from the incident – until now.

Life is like a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. If there is too much on your plate, then stay low and keep moving – otherwise you’re forked.

Coincidently, Mrs. StrangeJob shares the same birthday as Madeline. In Mrs. StrangeJob’s case, we are the same age between August 9 and November 1, but I will never be the wiser.

Happy Birthday

Dr. StrangeJob

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