While we were watching the game, a commercial came on announcing a “Starving Artist sale” held somewhere in a hotel north of here. With the dog, Sadie Lou, at my feet, I sat in the recliner munching on Peggy’s homemade hors d’oeuvres. Beautiful paintings, many filled with landscapes, seascapes, snowscapes and just about any other scape, were shown, all painted, I assume, by artists who had either starved in the past, were presently starving or were about to starve.
“Nothing over $69,” the announcer barked as the camera scanned the art.
“With prices like those, it’s no wonder they’re starving artists,” I said to Sadie Lou. “I’m more inclined to assemble a care package full of vittles — a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a hot thermos of homemade chicken noodle soup, crackers and some hot coffee, drive to the hotel, walk into the lobby and then distribute these tasty morsels to all those poor, hungry, undernourished, starving artists.“
Sadie Lou wagged her tail in agreement.
“You want to do what?” the wife bellowed as I dedicated myself to the cause by searching diligently for more peanut butter, jelly and bread.
“You ever been hungry? I mean really hungry?” I asked, even though I didn’t expect an answer. “I have. And believe me, it’s not very pleasant.”
“You?” She acted surprised as she eyed my growing girth and inspected the weight I’ve gained over the past three years. “When in your life have you ever gone hungry?”
“I was a young kid, back home on the farm,” I answered, remembering how I survived that dreaded day as I tried desperately not to lose the upper hand in this conversation. “I was sent to bed without any supper for pulling off some shenanigans.”
“You never told me anything about any shenanigans,” she said before I could explain how it happened. “And precisely what is it you did this time that caused such a severe punishment to be handed out by your parents?” I could tell by the tone of her voice she was basking in the thrill of seeing me squirm.
“It wasn’t my parents who punished us,” I corrected her. “It was my mom.”
She remained silent, arms crossed at her chest, her weight shifted to the back leg and then gave me that infamous eye of hers as she finally said, “Now it’s ‘us’? Not just ’you’? I’ll bet you were the instigator!”
“Our buddy, my brother and I were using Mom’s clothesline to play with,” I confessed. “I told my younger brother to remove it from the end posts. My brother removed the long rope that ran from the house to the end of the yard — a good 25 yards. Our buddy cut it in thirds and then, putting a loop in one end, pulled the rest of the rope through the loop so we could practice roping fence posts, lariat style.”
Page 2 of 2 - Peggy stood there, her mouth agape, as if she couldn’t believe that I, her husband of more than 40 years, would pull such a stunt. She continued staring and then finally closed her mouth before asking a simple question. “Why?”
“We were learning about vocations in school and different careers, and one was about the Western cowboys. My buddy said we could never be one because we don’t know how to rope a steer,” I explained. “So we took down Mom’s clothesline, cut it and the three of us practiced roping fence posts up behind the barn until the rains came. That’s when I knew we were in trouble.”
“Well, if you little monsters ever did that to mine, I’d be mad enough to send you to bed without any supper, too.”
“We weren’t sent to bed without supper for taking down the line and cutting it in thirds,”I explained to Peggy. “Mom sent our buddy home and told his parents. Then she sent us to bed because we left a day’s work of clean wet wash laying on the dirty, muddy, ground as the rain fell. Needless to say, she was fit to be tied. The next day, Dad took pity on us and gave us both an extra helping at the supper table, but only when Mom wasn’t looking.”
Laughing under her breath, Peggy joined me by reaching into the cupboard for the peanut butter. She got out a loaf of bread and jam and we both made sandwiches in hopes that those starving artists would enjoy them as much as we kids enjoyed our next meal, years ago, after finally learning our lesson.
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