I thought I was ready for the big people’s table. I was mistaken. After a week of eating saltines, cheddar goldfish and cereal, I moved on to meat. Somewhere along the line, that degenerated into a hankering for White Castle. But something went awry between the idea and the ingestion. I now feel sick.
I should have seen it coming. The moment I took the bag from the woman behind the counter and the aroma of the little oniony burgers and the deep fried onion rings hit my nose, I knew I had been overly-ambitious. My stomach rose and fell a bit like a wave swell.
My reaction wasn’t what I’d expected. I drove 15 minutes through traffic and construction to get there, and now I was unsure how I felt about the fruits of my labor.
Still, I peeled back the bag on the ride home and dipped into the onion rings, and first had one, then another, then another. And with each one, I kept feeling that little ripple in my stomach one feels in plane turbulence. And yet I persisted.
Don’t get me wrong. They weren’t all bad. I’ve always liked White Castle’s onion rings. The outside breading is crunchy, a nice contrast with the sweet wet ketchup. My palate was torn with each bite.
When I arrived home, my neighbor, Trish, saw the White Castle logo on the plastic bag.
“Oh, gawd. If you tell me you feel sick, I’m not going to feel sorry for you,” she said.
At that moment, I still felt cavalier. I am pregnant. I had a craving. Yep, that’s me. Pregnant with a craving. I felt a part of some group I’d always heard about but to which until now, I had not been invited. Unfortunately, I had a craving, but I apparently misheard what it was saying. My stomach called out for spaetzle, and I somehow heard White Castle.
It reminds me of a conversation my grandparents once had walking down the street.
“What time is it?” my grandfather asked.
“I’m fine, Bob,” my grandmother said.
“What line?” my grandfather said, puzzled.
“Time? Twenty after,” my grandmother said.
When I’d finished my meal, I threw the plastic bag filled with empty White Castle hamburger boxes in the garbage. Within seconds, my cat was pawing at the garbage pail wanting to know what she missed. I pulled the plastic bag back out and plucked out the box of onion rings and lay one on the floor in front of her. She smelled the onion ring, turned her head in the opposite direction and then got up and walked away, opting instead for her anti-hairball dry food.