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green olives
ah...to be 6 years old again.......
by jack bradley

We all have stories, right? Embarrassing moments from our childhood?

Liar. You know you do… mine are so monumentally stupid that I’ve heard my friends re-telling them as their own. Gives you a funny feeling…mainly because you can’t decide whether to claim the stupidity as your own, or to just let it go. Tough call in my book.

Anyway, I was sitting at my local watering hole the other day, and a guy in a suit plopped down on the stool next to me, looking very tired, and ordered a martini, three olives. As I stared at his drink, olives swirling about in his glass, I suddenly flashed back to Christmas Eve, 1972. (This is where the image is supposed to go all wavy, and the sound starts to echo, flashing us back to 1972, but my abilities to write that kind of code are non-existent. Just use your imagination.)

As I was a mature child for my age, I was allowed to sit at the "grown-up" table for the first time that Christmas. I did, however, have to concede to certain provisions.

A) Children should be seen, and not heard. (Southern upbringing, you understand.)
and B) I had to finish everything on my plate.

Now, being the healthy eater that I've always been, "B" was no problem. "A," however never has been and never will be my forte'. I kept my mouth full and my head down, and endeavored to keep my opinions to myself. No easy task for a headstrong 6 year old, I tell you.

When the meal was nearly finished, I had simply had enough. I was about to burst from refraining to join into the witty banter and holiday gossip as it was tossed gaily back and forth across the table. Waiting for my chance to chime in, I suddenly heard a perfect opportunity present itself...my Mother!...My Own Mother had just asked a question to which I was sure I knew the answer!

Shockingly, silence fell around the table. I glanced at my Great Uncle, the patriarch of the family and pantheon of knowledge that I thought him to be... but he simply stared at his peas. I glanced towards my Gramma...who (as all children of 6 believe) knew everything under the sun.

No answer.

The silence grew. Once again...my dear sweet Mother asked the question:

"Well? I never considered it before,” she said. “Where do pimento's come from?"

I chimed in immediately with the answer, my proud smile and knowing expression clouding over into confusion and hurt as everyone at the table began to laugh at me. I was humiliated, even though I was certain that I had come up with the correct answer! It took my dear sweet Gramma all evening to console me, and explain to me why everyone had laughed.

I mean, at the age of 6, I had only seen pimentos in one place.

They came from olives, didn't they?

Epilogue: As I faded back into the present moment, my beer finished and a big, wry grin on my face, I stood and tossed a bill on the counter that more than covered my tab. The bartender looked at my money, then up at my stupid grin.

“Hey, buddy,” he said, “That’s way too generous.”

“Pay for his, too,” I said.

The guy with the martini looked over at me, puzzled, and asked “What’s that about?”

“It’s about the olives.” I answered with a smile, and left them both to wonder over the meaning of it. What I wouldn’t give to be six years old again, I thought, and made my way out to my car, and the long drive home.


Born the son of a circus monkey, Jack had to overcome the stigma of having an address south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Struggling against all odds, he finally got his HS diploma from some guy on the corner, and proceeded to attend NC State University, where his records are now the "running joke" in the admissions office. In February of 2000, he moved to Sydney, Australia, to pursue a writing career full-time. Jack currently has a husband but no wife, no children, and a dog with great fashion sense.

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one reaction
by jack bradley
topic: general
published: 9.17.01

having enough for what you need to have
by jack bradley
topic: general
published: 2.22.02


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