Jaw Breaker

Mom has had a craving for pasta for several months now.  It seemed to appear suddenly this summer when she got excited about having spaghetti for dinner, even though it was really a Banquet Swedish meatballs and noodles frozen meal.  But she was happy with it and claimed it filled her “spaghetti” craving.

As the weeks continued, I noticed that each Wednesday evening when the Granny Nanny comes for a couple of hours, the empty TV dinner box we find in the trash the next morning is always some sort of pasta.

To fulfill this ongoing craving, I began buying single serving frozen pasta meals for her and now that’s all she wants whenever she has a frozen dinner.  All her old favorite Banquet meals are sitting neglected and frost-bitten in the freezer, gradually creeping up to their expiration century.

Bill and I had been out running errands on Saturday and we’d stopped for a late lunch, so neither of us was particularly hungry when Mom’s 6:00 dinnertime rolled around.  As the minute hand ticked past 5:55, I went into the living room to ask her what she’d like to eat, a Banquet or pasta.

“I’m not sure.  What Banquets are left?” she asked.

“I don’t know, but I’ll get them,” I replied with a happy I’m-your-waitress-Patty-and-I’ll-be-serving-you-tonight smile.  I was hopeful that she might be a little tired of noodles, especially since I’d just made spaghetti and meatballs the night before, and finally be ready to eat some mystery meat and veggies.

I gathered the four remaining boxes and presented them to her so she could pick one for dinner.  She perused each selection closely, even leaning forward and reaching out to tentatively touch the label on the Salisbury Steak meal box.

“Okay then,” she proclaimed, collapsing backward into the loveseat’s cushion.  “I’ll have pasta.”

“What is with your sudden love affair with pasta,” I asked before returning to the kitchen.

“What do you mean?” she asked innocently.  “I like it.”

“But it’s all you want lately,” I replied.  “Why is that?”

“I guess because it isn’t hard to chew and it slides down easy.”

“Are other foods hard to chew?” I asked, somewhat concerned.  “Are you having dental problems?  Does it bother your teeth to chew?”

“No, not at all,” she answered with a broad smile.

“Then does it hurt your jaw to chew?”

“No, it doesn’t hurt anything to chew.  It’s just that some things are harder to chew than other.”

“Like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know.  I guess like steak.  Or maybe pork chops.”

“So your teeth don’t hurt, your jaw isn’t bothering you, but it’s hard to chew steak.  And pork chops.  What about meatloaf or hamburgers?”

“Meatloaf is fine.  So is a hamburger as long as the bun isn’t too hard on the outside.”

“Well if that kind of stuff’s okay, why didn’t you want the Salisbury Steak meal?”

“Because it’s steak,” she replied in exasperation.  “And I told you steak is hard to chew.”

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