“It’s rabbit. Eat it.”
My sister had gotten sick. She puked in the corner of my parent’s bedroom. My mom took her somewhere. They were still gone the next day. Or maybe only my mom was gone. I don’t know. It’s fuzzy.
What’s not fuzzy is that my dad was spooning out a red, gooey mass of something onto my plate.
It sat in a clump, steaming. I looked from the pile on my plate to my dad and back again. Surely he wasn’t going to make me eat this.
“What is it?”
“It’s rabbit.” He glanced at my brother who just kept looking at his own plate, shoveling forkfuls into his mouth. In between bites, as goo lined his lips he would smirk at me.
“Since when do we eat rabbit?” I asked.
“Since I serve it,” he cleverly retorted. My dad always had a reply for everything.
“Why can’t I go outside?”
“Because I said so.”
“But I wanna!”
“Well, want in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up first.”
“I won’t eat it. You can’t make me.”
He could, and he had before — or, at least, had attempted to with a plate of liver and onions. Our standoff had lasted nearly two full days with my mom finally stepping in. I got a bowl of cereal, and I don’t think my dad ever forgave me. Was he proving his “Dad-ness” now with Mom gone?
“Fine,” he said. “Don’t eat it. But you don’t get anything else.”
That night, I ate the bread he had served with the rabbit, as I watched my brother shovel more and more into his mouth. Even now, I try to remember if I was hungry that night. I don’t think I was. I was sad for the rabbit.
The next night my mom was home. No tattling on Dad. Just eat whatever is put in front of you so it’s not brought up. But when I got to the table, red-faced from playing outside, there it was again: a platter of rabbit.
I stared from my mom to my dad, who at this point looked surprisingly calm. He was going to have to explain to Mom that I had gone without dinner last night and would go without dinner again tonight, a replay of the Liver and Onion Days. I figured I might as well get it over with: “I’m not eating that.”
“Why not?” my mom asked.
“I don’t eat rabbit.”
There was a long silence—that much I remember for certain—as my mom stared at my dad, then at my brother who was chuckling uncontrollably. I didn’t get the joke.
“That’s not rabbit,” my mother directed at my dad through clenched teeth, “It’s. Lasagna.”