Carrots Beneath the Tablecloth

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February 3rd 2014  |  0  |  Category: Fiction , Other , Tragedy  |  Author: geedda  |  1994 views

Carrots Beneath the Tablecloth…

“Eat your carrots,” Mother said while standing over me at the table. “They are good for you; help you to see better.

I just as soon wear glasses as to eat those orange sticks that taste like moldy shoe leather with attitude. “I don’t like carrots, Mother,” I tell her.

“You are not leaving this table until you have eaten everything on your plate, and, by the way, the carrots are the only thing left, so start eating or you will be late for the movies.” She promised if I ate my lunch I could go to the movies in the afternoon; a cowboy picture was playing, and a Flash Gordon serial.

Were the movies worth eating two carrots? No, but I didn’t want to miss the picture show either. So I did what every pure blooded American boy of twelve would do; I hid the carrots under the tablecloth.

“Good boy,” Mother exclaimed as I excused myself from the table; out the door and on my way to the movies. She wouldn’t discover the carrots until later in the afternoon, after her nap, for now, I was safe.

Oh the smell of fresh popped corn fills the theater lobby. Rows and rows of candy bars boxed treats and soda pop staring from beneath their glass cages. “Buy me,” the M&Ms shout; “no, me,” screams the Good ‘n Plenties. Oh what a wonderful way to round out the total Saturday afternoon cinematic extravaganza.

Gene Autry fights no less than fifteen bad hombres in the hour and a half the movie lasts, and not one time does his hat come off. Being chased he fires at least twelve shots at his chasers (strange since he only had a six shooter), but who was counting?

Every Oater from the mid-forties to the late fifties had a hanging, and eighty-five percent of the time, it was the same actor. His name changed little in each film; he usually went by the nickname Ed or Old Ed. They used at least fifty yards of rope in all those films to hang that poor old bewhiskered man.

My favorite part of those old Westerns, especially Gene Autry movies, was when Gene whistled, and Champion came galloping. Gene would jump off the balcony of the saloon and land in the saddle (still wearing his white hat… only bad guys wore black). He then rode off into the sunset. He and Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, Tex Ritter and a host of others entertained me Saturday afternoons for many years, and I never tired of seeing the good guy beat the bad guy, and save the damsel in distress; it was a wonderful time to have been born and raised in America!

My father gave my brother and me twenty-five cents a piece. The movies were twelve cents admission, five cents for a candy bar and five cents for a box of Smith Brothers cough drops (licorice, and you got more candy that way). For two hours, we were in heaven. Then it came time to go home and face Mother, who, by now had discovered the hidden carrots.

“I found your little stash, young man,” she said. “No movies next week.” I should have been devastated, but I knew within seven days, I could get on my mom’s good side; I’d be extra nice, do chores to help her. It had worked in the past, and I saw no reason it shouldn’t work again. What I didn’t take into consideration was my Father’s intervention.

“Please, Mom, let me go to the movies. I promise I will eat all my vegetables forever; never leave anything under the tablecloth again.”

Before Mother had a chance to answer, Father spoke up.

“If your mother said you could not go to the movies this week; you cannot go, and that is final.” He said staring at me with those eyes that pierced my very soul.

I am doomed, no movies this week. What will I do for entertainment? I felt lost, rejected and all alone. I know what, I’ll run away from home; find someone who loves me. I went to my room to pack… didn’t take long, didn’t own much. I packed my Sky King Decoder ring, my homemade whip (sawed-off broom handle with two feet of rope attached with a roofing nail). I discovered a half package of crackers and peanut butter that had been lost beneath my bed probably a month ago. I wrapped these in a red and black, colored handkerchief which I affixed to a yardstick.

When it got dark, I sneaked out the rear door and headed up the street toward the next town. I didn’t get very far when I realized I hadn’t eaten any lunch; I was hungry, very hungry. I turned around and started back home. I will run away tomorrow after breakfast.

My father was waiting at the door for me when I got home. “I figured you’d come home when it was time to eat,” he said, a wide smirk on his face.

“I’m running away from home,” I said, making a face that I thought should break his heart. Instead, he laughed.

“Come in and have some supper, and then I’ll help you pack.” He laughed again.

Though I was furious with him at the time, I have to smile when I recall that day; it was funny, but I must remain serious and somber if I were to accomplish my mission; escaping the grip of my parents’s control. After all, I am twelve years old. I can make it on my own. I’ll get a job, buy a bicycle, and ride off into the sunset just like Gene Autry.

The following week I was back at the movies as if nothing had happened; even got an extra nickel from Dad; he felt guilty for punishing me I guess. I was once again in heaven, and this time with a candy bar, Smith Brothers cough drops and a package of Good ‘n Plenties. Heaven soon turned to ‘the other place; you know; the down below place where bad people go and are tortured. I had the worst stomachache I have ever had in my life… didn’t know if I would make it; my life hung in the balance as I heaved everything I had eaten in the last week. It’s all my father’s fault; he should never have given me that extra nickel. From now on it’s one quarter and no more.

That was then, and this is now. I have lost sixty-three years somewhere between those Saturday afternoons and the present time. I went, from twelve to seventy-five in the twinkling of an eye.

As I sit in the theater eating a three dollar and fifty-nine cent package of Good ‘n Plenties, after paying eight dollars to get into this place, and what do I get for the price of admission? Not two movies, a cartoon a serial, and a newsreel like yesteryear (all for twelve cents), but one movie, and it is not a Western.

I suppose Old Ed has gone to his real reward by now; the years finally catching up to the old fella. The movies will never be the same without Gene, Roy, Hopalong, and Tex Ritter, or old Ed for that matter.

In case you are wondering, I now love carrots; they are one of my favorite vegetables; I no longer hide them under the tablecloth; now I hide mushrooms there instead. I guess old habits die hard.


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