one definition of success

There are big, momentous, earth-shattering things that have happened to me which I can point to and say, “See? That’s why I am who I am. What else could you expect, after that?” But mostly what makes a life and a whole person are these things, these tiny things which would be insignificant if not for their amazing ability to stick to a patch of gray cells and never be wedged off by something more worthwhile remembering. The importance of it, the self-discovery, is lodged somewhere in the “why” of it–why in God’s name do I remember these things? Why do they stick, still?

For instance–and this is a most insignificant thing–I went into the store room at work this morning, where there is an honor system snack concession for us office-slash-dungeon dwellers. Quite unexpectedly, there were many cans of Vienna Sausages for purchase. Sixty cents a can. It made me ponder who would pop open a can of Vienna sausages as a mid-morning snack. I didn’t know people just ate them, straight up, out of the can, several at a time. I’d never considered it.

As a kid, Vienna sausages were this rare, forbidden treat. This was the sixties in a tiny town in Southern Indiana where it might as well have been the fifties, and we were on the lower end of the economic spectrum. There was a budget and a food plan which matched exactly to a headcount, so many per. My uber-skinny brother could send my mom over the edge by eating an entire bunch of bananas at one time and blowing the plan. My mom and dad had some friends who had gone to the same high school, and who still got together for Euchre and snacks occasionally. All of the women had puffy, stiff hairdos and the men, except for my dad, were all loud and annoying. Their kids were insufferable, or just this side, I suppose, because my brother and I were made to suffer them. My mom, when she was going all out for an “adult” party, would make a tray of hor d’oeuvres on toothpicks with plastic frills on the end, and on each toothpick a tiny cube of cheddar, a chunk of sweet pickle, and half a Vienna sausage. My brother and I were obsessed with eating these exotic treats and would sneak them when mom wasn’t looking. But she knew exactly how many there were and would scream, “STOP EATING THOSE THEY ARE FOR THE PARTY!” And that’s how I knew those little things must be pretty darned fancy and expensive.

Now I realize, shockingly, that I could whip out a tray of these tonight if I wanted to. I could eat the whole tray, devouring sixty cents worth of Vienna sausages at one sitting. I could take a whole tray to my brother and say, “Here, have at them, all of them, and have this entire bunch of bananas as well. I’ve spared no expense!” I just realized I’m rich, I’m telling you. Rich.

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One Comment

  1. ofthedesert
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 2:13 am | Permalink

    This is brilliant & loudly reminiscent of my own life. I love it.


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