Yeah, my fatness has never been my fault...in this climate of being politically correct...I have decided to focus the blame elsewhere. It's what I do best and how I roll. You might be suprised though, by the culprits of this henous crime.
I'll start with dear 'ole Mom. If you don't know by now, Helen Page was born cripple, her hands were deformed and she has never been able to grip or hold anything quite well...of course, unless it was an extension cord that she could sling like a whip at her three angelic sons who were calmly brushing their teeth one morning when she went nutsy fagan...but, that's a story in and of itself. That has never stopped her though, as she can drive a car and has managed to outwit more people than not and is one of the most politically opinionated souls I have ever known. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not. Anyways, being raised by this woman in the seventies was an experience that my siblings and I shall not forget. This is not an indictment of her parenting skills, oh heavens no, on the contrary, we had a very good upbringing.
Being from Fayetteville and living at 4624 Cheltenham Road for all those years you could well imagine the influence the US Army had on our neighborhood. Specifically, everyone's father, with the exception of Mr. Dalton and Mr. Fisher who were in Law Enforcement, all were soldiers. That's right, everybody's old man was either a Green Beret, Screaming Eagle, Sky Soldier or All American. During Vietnam, Dad had to do his tour and it was just Mom and the four of us little ones. Times are always tough it seems. The difficulty of putting food on the table back in the sixties and seventies is no different than our present day struggles, nowadays, we just think it's more expensive. I can vividly recall back then, having to "ration" many of the items in our pantry til the next payday. Unlike today, bi-monthly paychecks were unheard of and payday was always once and at the end of each month.
Back then, to save money or call me crazy...torture her kids, Mom decided that there was an alternative to Whole Milk. She would buy this powdered milk crap called "PET." Well, lets just say that you didn't even have to refrigerate the stuff. As God is my witness, it was the most disgusting thing I have ever had to consume...almost as hideous as Powder Eggs. To make matters worse, she wasn't buying Capt. Crunch or Honey Combs or Coco Puffs like any other normal family...no, we Laugisch's had to endure generic Corn Flakes or those "Powered Puffs" thingamajigs in bags you could get five for a dollar. Here we are eating this bland and disgusting combination for breakfast and the only way to even swallow it was to drown it in heaps of sugar...they hadn't quite perfected fake sugar back then. How does this make my mother an accessory to my fatness? Because, having to eat like we were in a Gulag for all those years, she turned me into a Sweet Junkie when I became 18. Yeah, that's right. The moment I turned that magical age I ran into the Piggly Wiggly, bought the largest box of America's Greatest Navel Commander's cereal (Capt Crunch for those that didn't get that), some real milk, a large Jethro-like container to pour it in and leaned up against the rear tire of my car and gorged myself on the most heavenly tasting morsels I thought I had ever eaten . Going forward in my life I struggled mightly with the sweets. Can you see now why she is to blame?
There's one other true villian in all this crazy mess. Grandma. I know, you probably read in my profile that I would rob a bank for her or walk over hot coals if she asked...yes, it's true, I would do all of that, but when it comes to my weight gain...she is the Devil. First, she spawned my mother, which makes her guilty by association. Secondly, she is the greatest Southern cook to ever whistle Dixie. Paula Dean seems to be all the rage these days but I'm willing to bet Clara Page, even in her nineties could give her a run for her money. Two of my favorite items she made from scratch were her buttermilk biscuits and fried chicken. I spent 5 summers with her while picking tobacco for a local farmer and there was nothing better than walking in from a hard day at work and smelling those biscuits rising in the oven. Her "fresh" fried chicken on Sunday after Church was something to behold. I hope I don't have to explain "fresh" in this context...but for all my Northern readers it involves a "live" chicken in the morning and the #1 rule of being a chicken on a farm is: Your either producing eggs or you become Sunday Dinner. Does that help? If your wondering, I do know how to "pluck" a chicken.
My other siblings to a certain degree were picky eaters. I, on the other hand would eat anything you put on my plate...with one exeption, squash; for some reason boiled squash was not something I enjoyed. I do love vegetables and there were many a meal at my Grandparents house that only involved them. Grandma's garden could rival what Harris Teeter puts out on their produce floor. I'm deadly serious when I say it was a big damn garden! 4 rows each, most summers, of corn, butter beans, snap peas, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes (these were those little red ones that you had to dig to China to get to all them), cucumbers, peppers and of course squash. One other thing I forgot to mention, my grandparents were the product or the generation that survived the Great Depression. Food was something that they took seriously but it never went to waste. Moreso than anything, they enjoyed watching me eat...hell, I enjoyed eating and coupled with working hard in tobacco fields all day, I built up a ravenous appetite. Are you seeing where I'm going with this? Grandma is only guilty because she loved to cook for me and strangly, watch me eat. I blame her for developing my heathly palete and not explaining to me what it was going to do to me when I was still consuming massive amounts of good food but not burning the calories in a more sedentary lifestyle.
I would be remiss if I didn't add that my wife is a pretty damn good cook in her own right; I really don't want to have explain to her why I think she is the second best cook in my life, but this is Grandma, the Patron Saint of Raven Rock. I call it like I see it. Til next time, Adios Muchachos!