This is another true story that i apparently blocked out of my head, until it came back to me when i was talking to my friend's girlfriend. So thank you Maq Attack.
It is hard for me to form into words how much I loved pudding as a child. I loved pudding, Especially Jell-O’s chocolate pudding. The first time I had it, I was four years old being babysat by my Aunt Karen. She was looking for a quick snack opened up the refrigerator and asked me
“Chris do you want some Jell-O pudding?”
I can remember knowing full well at the time that I had never tasted pudding, I hardly had even heard of it. But the answer to my Aunts question seemed so obvious to me.
“Of course I want some Jell-O pudding.”
She plopped it down in front of me and gave me a cereal spoon. I scooped up my first bit and watched as the chocolate substance took the shape of the spoon; it fit into its oval contours perfectly as if it had always been meant to fit into this one spoon. When I opened my mouth and let that treat hit my tongue the wave of endorphins that released in my brain nearly caused me to seizure. It was like there was a party in my mouth and everyone was high. It tasted so good I was almost angry.
Who had kept this from the world, this wonderful thing? Who hid this fantastic sweetness which could end wars, save lives and bring together broken homes? What angry bitter man bent on filling the world with hatred and sadness was keeping this delicious treat from mass consumption? I asked my Auntie this question. She laughed.
“You haven’t seen Bill Cosby; he sells this stuff on TV.”
WHAT!? Bill Cosby, as if it wasn’t good enough, Jell-O pudding was being sold by Dr. Huckstable that good and glorious man. I made up my mind that day that pudding was a gift from God and it was good.
For the next few years pudding became my edible sidekick. He was in every brown bagged lunch that went with me to school. He sat in my cubby-hole and kept my jacket company while I expanded my mind…or tried to. Two hours into school and my mind would wander; my eyes would leave the blackboard and turn towards the classroom door, where my lunch sat securely and alone. I’d look straight through the thin brown paper to see my prize sitting there waiting to be devoured. My teacher Ms. Heidi who was an old woman who usually looked liked someone who had just been scared by a ghost; yelled at me to pay attention. But even she with her wild hair, her crescent moon glasses and her old skin couldn’t distract me.
At Lunch everything else in my bag was wolfed down. The sandwich was destroyed; I ate apples faster than most goats. But it was all to spend my time with the pudding. Eating it slowly as if it had a secret I could only hear by tasting it, and I wanted to catch every detail. This would continue for years, pudding followed me everywhere, family vacations, sleepovers, to the movies. I had even started developing systems and collecting survival knowledge.
Rule #1: It is okay to put pudding in your pocket. It will be good for two hours, but then your body heat will destroy the consistency.
Rule#2: You can eat pudding with a fork, a knife, a Spork, a spoon of course, your finger, you can lick pudding. But don’t ever drink it through a straw.
And never forget if you put it in your back pocket for any reason don’t leave it there longer than five minutes because you run the risk of premature leakage or busting. And nothing is worse than a small child with a big brown stain on his pants.
At the age of twelve my parents decided they would grant me my wish and send me to a sleepaway camp.
Horse flies were the most common animal and children would sudden jump in pain from having been bit. Any child was at risk, during the middle of a rousing momma joke a boy would jump slightly and lift his shirt to reveal a large piece of skin missing from the bite.
It was around this time that I developed a fear of horse flies which hasn’t quite left me.
Other events such as: mosquito hawk attacks, capture the flag tournaments, and playing with snakes are all memories I have of Pinewood. But the memory that really sticks with me was the final week cabin showdown; which included running, biking, archery, and a pudding eating contest.
Never before had I looked forward to such a meaningless activity. Until this point I hadn’t even been aware that the camp had pudding to eat, let alone enough for a whole competition involving its consumption. My reserves had run out days ago and I was quickly feeling the effects of pudding withdrawal.
So when the camp councilors sat us down at a long wooden picnic table for the competition I was excited to get my fix. The Table sat 7 people on each side, enough for each cabin’s “best players.” I sat in the leader position, first on to start off for our team which had been named 2Legit2Quit because we were.
I sat anxiously looking at the red headed freckled boy who sat across from me. This poor sap didn’t know what he was getting into. I was the Muhammad Ali, I was Michael Jordon, I was the Bugs Bunny of pudding, and I couldn’t be beaten.
And then they sat it down in front of me. A giant silver bowl the size of the sinks barber shops wash your hair in and it was filled halfway with….something.
“Ladies and Gentleman Your Pudding.”
Wait a minute. This was our pudding. No. I wanted to raise my hand and express my concern but no one else seemed to see the mistake. But this wasn’t pudding. It was too dark for one. It didn’t have that pleasant light brown tone that invited you in. This was dark, so dark light failed to escape it, a dangerous dark which like a brightly colored neon frog warns: DO NOT EAT ME, I WILL FUCK YOU UP.
At the same time its consistency was all wrong. It wasn’t like Jell-O pudding, no this was watery like someone had filled the bowl with dirt and then sprayed a hose into it. Goosebumps covered my body and my stomach gave me a quick jerk as if to say
“Don’t do it.”
“Alright.” The ref said. “This works as a train. You start as soon as the person before you finishes. First to finish all seven wins.”
Then he blew the whistle. The ginger in front of me threw his face down into the pudding imposter and started gobbling it up. When he came up for air it was like he’d just gone bobbing for apples in horse shit. My team was shouting, GO! GO!
I took last look at the sickening pool, and then dove in.
Oh god, it’s warm and much more watered down than I thought. Instead of acting like real pudding and taking the form of my face this tried to invade me. Every hole filled instantly with shit brown chocolate. I opened my mouth and it came pouring in like fan mail. It tasted like sour milk with the consistency of cottage cheese. First liquid ran down my throat, then a lump of something, then liquid then a lump. If I didn’t swallow right away it felt as if it began to curdle in my mouth.
My whole body reacted. There was an over abundance of this mess in my stomach and it didn’t want it so my whole system threw into reverse.
Before I know it chunks of brown vomit came shooting from my mouth slowly refilling the bowl. My teammates unable to see my predicament called for me to eat faster. That we were going to lose because of me.
I stared down at that shit like pudding now combined with vomit and stomach acid.
We can’t lose, if I don’t finish we’ll lose and everyone will hold it against me.
I lowered my head and submersed myself into the bowl. Because of the clumps of vomit it was like I’d put my head in a bowl of jellyfish that danced around my face waiting for me to open up and invite them in. When I did, I threw up again, filling the bowl past its original point. I lifted my head and the smell was horrible. The fumes burned my nose hairs. I looked across to the ginger that had brown clumps of shit stuck in-between his yellow teeth.
Bile, toxic yellow and neon green flew from my mouth into the bowl. The whole competition stopped and watched. They saw me as in anger I pushed the bowl away from me so violently that I tipped it over. My bile, vomit, spit, pudding ran down the length of the table filling its cracks and holes. The other campers scattered away to the sound of girl’s screams and shouts of “Gross.” Other bowls were tipped over in the process and in the end a river of shit water and vomit cascaded down the side of the table like the waterfall in hell. It slapped against the dirt with a sickening naturalness as if it had always wanted to be there. I turned my head, breathing deep, sweet glistening off my face. Thirteen campers, two councilors, and one ref were all staring at me. Big brown chucks of whatever was stuck to my big lips.
They looked at me like we look at homeless people with pity and self assuredness. That was when I passed out, all went black as my head tipped forward and I landed face first on the table.
I don’t eat pudding anymore.