This week’s Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie Tale Weaver prompt is about something from days of old. It could be stories about something “you remember as a child in relation to life at the time.”
What I’m about to relate to you is a tale of something horrible that happened to me when I was about ten — something that traumatized me, forever altered my perception, and permanently changed my life.
Every other Sunday my mother would go to the local Jewish deli and pick up cold cuts for supper. One Sunday my mother wasn’t feeling well, so my father agreed to make the deli run. I was thrilled when he asked me to accompany him.
I watched intently as my father ordered the various cold cuts — a pound of corned beef, three-quarters of a pound of pastrami, half a pound of salami.
The butcher pulled out these hunks of meat and put them on the slicing machine, the thin slices falling to his bare hand before he placed them, neatly arranged, on waxed paper.
Then my father asked for a half pound of tongue. And that was when the trouble began.
I saw the butcher put this huge cow’s tongue on the counter. He smiled at my father, who, incredibly, smiled back and nodded his head in the affirmative.
The butcher starting trimming off some of the fat from the tongue before putting it in the slicing machine. And that was when it first occurred to me that the thinly sliced deli meat wrapped in waxed paper that my mother called “tongue” and that she brought home from the deli every other Sunday was sliced from an actual cow’s tongue.
At ten-years-old, I hadn’t yet made the cognitive connection between the cold cuts in my sandwich and some doe-eyed, tail-swishing, milk-producing moo-machine down on some farm. I figured tongue was just a word, like salami or pastrami. As far as I knew, cows didn’t have anything on their bodies called a “salami.” Oh wait, maybe they did. Yikes!
I was horrified. I backed off and slowly made my way to the other side of the deli, working hard to stifle an almost overpowering gag reflex. Seriously, what kind of sadistic people were my parents for feeding me the tongue of a cow? What would be next? Eye of newt and toe of frog?
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
To this day I am plagued by the memory of that huge cow’s tongue being trimmed and sliced up. It still sends chills up and down my spine.
Many decades have passed since that fateful trip to the deli with my father and I have never again had a tongue sandwich or even tasted a slice of tongue.