Oh, brother. Like I didn’t have enough failures in my life already — such as my little ice-cream problem (those empty pints of Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s I have to smuggle out of the house), those suspicious noises coming out of our fake fireplace that spell r-a-t (or is it f-a-m-i-l-y o-f r-a-t-s?), the credit-card bills I’m handling by refusing to open.
On top of all this stress, I’m hearing the repeated, ever-louder sermons of the health police as they rant on and on about how important breakfast is. Without a meal first thing in the morning, you’re going to end up dumb and fat, they say. This is based on Recent, Important Findings.
Great. I don’t need to hear this. That’s because I heard it throughout my childhood. Our mother, an early-riser, the kind of person who was actually cheerful in the mornings, always served us breakfast because it was the most important meal of the day. Mother would set steaming plates of eggs and bacon on the table and we were supposed to eat every bite and — even worse — talk in a civilized way.
It was awful. Our father rarely talked at all. But, as a night person, he never, ever talked in the morning. He’d sit there, glowering. Which meant that my sister and I were supposed to pick up those chipper conversational balls our mother kept hurling in our direction. We weren’t morning people, either. On top of that, we were sullen and sarcastic, even before we were teenagers, a stage that’s now lasted for several decades. So, Mother would get more and more deflated and pretty soon, there would be a big, terrible scene about how awful we all were, spoiling her day and her life first thing in the morning when everything was fresh and new. Daddy would finally wake up and take Mother’s side and we’d get sent to our rooms, no matter how old we were.
Breakfast. God. No wonder I still hate it. I don’t wake up hungry. I wake up morose and crabby and barely alive. I sit and I stare and I drink coffee. When I used to smoke, I had my first cigarette then. Coffee and cigarettes and complete silence — now that’s my idea of a good beginning to the day.
“I’m afraid you’re going to be a breakfast-skipper,” Mother used to tell me in tones she ordinarily reserved for fornicators and liberals and heathens.
No, not really. I’ve just redefined the idea of what breakfast is. So sue me. Just don’t talk to me before noon.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)