When we were kids, there were certain rules we would never break because the consequences were too dire. Our mother was a screamer. Our father, however, was a man of few words, but when you saw him taking off his belt, you knew Armageddon had arrived.
The household commandments were pretty straightforward. No sassing back (but we did). No touching the cash in the cookie jar (but we did). No swearing (but we did). And no smoking (no comment).
One commandment that begged to be broken was “No eating in bed.” On the occasions when I got caught, retribution was swift. My mother would chase me around the room with a vacuum cleaner in one hand while waving my half-eaten bag of Lay’s barbecue potato chips in the other.
Who can lie in bed reading mystery novels without a bag of snacks? And it’s impossible to eat that stuff without getting crumbs under the sheets and on the blankets.
Sometimes we couldn’t even see them, but my mother with her trained eagle eyes always spotted them from six feet away. Or maybe it was her canine-like sense of smell that detected our misdeed. Nevertheless, “no eating in bed” was a widely ignored rule, sort of like “no turning on red” is today.
Our third daughter, who shall go unnamed because I don’t want to hinder her professional career by my revelations, had the habit of disposing of her ice cream sandwich wrappers under her bed. And more than once she hid a half-eaten sandwich there.
My wife resorted to threatening, to reasoning, to mentoring and monitoring, but in the end the only solution was to stop buying ice cream sandwiches. I fear that as an adult this daughter probably leaves provolone and pepperoni stashed in her outbox at the office.
For parents, beds are for sleeping and other unmentionable practices. For kids, they’re for pillow fights and jumping in lieu of a trampoline. But they’re not supposed to be snack bars. If you read the fine print on those annoying mattress tags, you’ll realize eating in bed is a federal offense punishable by three years in prison…without a bunk.
So I leave the chocolate chip cookies at the door and go in the bathroom when I want to eat in private. I’m not a closet eater for the simple reason that our closets are too cluttered, so I can’t hide there when I want to polish off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream.
My wife has granted only one dispensation in our marriage. After I had my wisdom teeth taken out and was in excruciating pain from oral surgery, she let me have a bowl of chicken soup in bed. The next day I had to sit at the table, agony or no agony. However, anarchy recently erupted in our otherwise disciplined household.
While I was in bed last week, reading about Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and several hundred other perverted celebrities and power abusers, I looked up and saw our dog Bella at the foot of the bed…eating. Out of a bowl. To be more specific, she was eating a bowl of organic, non-GMO rotisserie chicken with green beans, rice and peas, which my wife prepared for her. (She eats better than the average American whose main source of nutrition is Taco Bell.)
How did she get her bowl on the bed, I wondered. I considered videotaping her and putting it on YouTube so it could go viral and make me millions…until I realized my wife put the food on the bed. Not possible. How could she aid and abet Bella in committing this unconscionable crime?
“What’s going on?” I asked. “Why is the dog eating on the bed? This isn’t fair! My mother is going to haunt us from beyond the grave when she realizes what you did.”
“She hasn’t eaten all day and this helps her relax.” (Spoken like a dog whisperer.) I guess her theory worked because she licked the bowl clean.
So I immediately joined the inmate revolt and went to the refrigerator for my Ben & Jerry’s. I also left the container under the bed for old time’s sake.