This painting is dedicated to Alison Latimer and all my vegetarian and vegan friends out there. As well as the many human beings who think of eating mushy canned peas with die-cut carrots and want to gag. Not me, mind you…i love the little suckers in all forms. I didn’t always, though.
When i was seven, we had a fifties-era cafe table in the kitchen, and we tended to eat dinner there unless it was a special occasion. Mind you, I despised peas in all forms – sugar snap, shelled, pigeon, sweet, baby – until I “grew up”. Dinners and our food intake were carefully monitored by my obsessive mother, who ate vicariously through her children (god rest her soul; she tried), but was on an eternal diet of coffee and cigarettes. If we did not eat our veggies, there would be hell to pay.
One balmy spring evening at dinner, forlornly glaring at my uneaten mound of canned, somewhat mushy, and now-cold peas, I experienced a LIGHT BULB click in my seven-year-old brain. When Mom’s back was turned at the stove, I gingerly (so as to silence any creaks) wiggled the tabletop free from the leg nearest me. Et voila! It was HOLLOW! One by one, i surreptitiously plopped the little green peas down the leg…all the while with one eye cocked toward my mother’s eyeballing status.
So gratified was I when I received a kiss on the top of my little head for finishing all my peas! But that night in bed, there was no rest for the wicked. Guilt crept up on me, a stealthy fog that grew thicker by the sleepless hour. I thought of all the starving children in Africa I was forever being admonished about. I tried to devise a way to box up the peas and send them there, but I knew they would be no good upon arrival — and plus, how would i explain to my mom the need for international postage?
Yes – I was a strange little girl.
The end of the pea-squirreling era came one sweltering summer evening. For “some reason”, a strange and foul odor was floating like a malevolent cloud in the kitchen. My stepfather was quite resourceful. He thought maybe a small animal had gotten trapped and died (we lived in the country) and proceeded to check all the crevices behind the appliances. Imagine my abject terror when he began taking the table apart (he knew the steel legs were hollow).
“Nothing!”, he exclaimed, taking the legs off one by one. He got to the last leg. I felt that “teacher-just-yelled-at-me-i’m-gonna-pee-myself” feeling and tried my darndest to look innocent. Off came the leg, and out rolled what seemed to my child’s eyes a thousand mouldering peas. I was mortified. I knew I could not lie or I would go to hell (insert strict Catholic upbringing here). I couldn’t think of any viable explanation…and I received glares from my parents that shrunk me even smaller than my three and a half-foot stature. Suddenly, though, they both broke out in peals of laughter. That was my first lesson in not taking life so seriously, and that confession can be greatly relieving.
Peas on earth and good will to men (and women). Hope you enjoy my homage below.