Stuck in someone else's frames? break free!


by Ian Frazier

Of the beasts of the field and of the fishes of the sea, and
of all foods that are acceptable in my sight, you may eat, but not in
the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers
you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal,
plain, or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the
cereal grains, of the corn, the wheat, and of the oat, and of all the
cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance, you may eat,
but not in the living room. Of the quiescently frozen dessert and of
all frozen after-meal treats, you may eat, but absolutely not in the
living room. Of the juices and other beverages, even of those in sippy
cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry
such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room
carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither
may you drink. But if you are sick and are lying down and watching
something, then, may you eat in the living room.


And if you are seated in your high chair or in a chair such
as a greater person might use, keep your legs and feet below you, as
they were. Neither raise up your knees nor place your feet upon the
table for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even when you have an
interesting bandage to show. Your feet upon the table are an
abomination and worthy of rebuke. Drink your milk as it is given you,
neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for
that is not what they are for. If you will dip your blocks in the milk
and lick it off, you will be sent away. When you have drunk, let the
empty cup then remain upon the table and do not bite it upon its edge
and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it
sounding like a duck, for you will be sent away. When you chew your
food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open
it to show your brother or your sister what is within. I say to you,
do not so, even if your brother or sister has done the same to you.
Eat your food only; do not eat that which is not food, neither seize
the table between your jaws, for we do not do that, that is why. And
though the pieces of broccoli are very like small trees, do not stand
them upright to make a forest, because we do not do that, that is why.
Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other,
nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me, for if you sit
like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now, behold, even as
I have said, it has come to pass.


For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate
that is clean, saying first, "If the plate is clean, then you shall
have dessert." But of the unclean plate, the laws are these: If you
have eaten most of your meat and two bites of your peas with each bite
consisting of not less than three peas each, or, in total, six peas
eaten where I can see, and you have also eaten enough of your potatoes
to fill two forks, both forkfuls eaten where I can see, then you shall
have dessert. But if you eat a lesser number of peas and yet you eat
the potatoes, still you shall not have dessert, and if you eat the peas
yet leave the potatoes uneaten, you shall not have dessert, no, not
even a small portion thereof. And if you try to deceive by moving the
potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear that you have
eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know,
and you shall have no dessert. On screaming: Do not scream, for it is
as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two
foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your
voice rises up even to the ceiling while you point to the offense with
the finger of your right hand. But I say to you, "Scream not, only
remonstrate gently with the server, that the server may correct the
fault." Likewise, if you receive a portion of fish from which every
piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal
seasoning is loathsome to you, and steeped in vileness, again I say to
you, "Refrain from screaming." Though the vileness overwhelm you and
cause you a faint unto death, make not that sound from within your
throat, neither cover your face nor press your fingers to your nose,
for even now, I have made the fish as it should be. Behold! I eat of
it myself, yet do not die.


Cast your countenance up into the light and lift your eyes to
the hills that I may more easily wash you off. For the stains are upon
you, even to the very back of your head, there is rice thereon. And in
the breast-pocket of your garment and upon the tie of your shoe, rice
and other fragments are distributed in a manner wonderful to see, only
hold yourself still, "Hold still," I say. Give each finger in its turn
for my examination thereof, and also each thumb. Lo! How iniquitous
they appear! What I do is as it must be, and you shall not go hence
until I have done.


Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time. Neither drink of
your own bath water, nor of bath water of any kind, nor rub your feet
on bread, even if it be in the package, nor rub yourself against cars,
nor against any building, nor eat sand. Leave the cat alone, for what
has the cat done that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not
that humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and
the book. Indeed, you will drive me to madness! Nor forget what I
said about the tape.


Oh, my children, you are disobedient. For when I tell you
what you must do, you argue and dispute hotly, even to the littlest
detail, and when I do not accede, you cry out and hit and kick, yes,
and even sometimes do you spit, and shout, "Stupid head!" and other
blasphemies. And hit and kick the wall and the molding thereof, when
you are sent to the corner. And though the law teaches that no one
shall be sent to the corner for more minutes than he has years of age,
yet, I would leave you there all day, so mighty am I in anger. But
upon being sent to the corner, you ask straight away, "Can I come out?"
and I reply, "No, you may not come out," and again you ask, and again I
give the same reply. But when you ask again a third time, then you may
come out.


Hear me, oh my children, for the bills they kill me. I pay
and pay again, even to the twelfth time in a year and yet again, they
mount higher than before. For our health that we may be covered, I
give six hundred and twenty talents twelve times in a year, but even
this covers not the $1,500.00 deductible for each member of the family
within a calendar year, and yet for ordinary visits, we still are not
covered, nor for any medicines, nor for the teeth within our mouths.
Guess not at what rages in my mind, for surely you cannot know. For I
will come to you at the first of the month and the fifteenth of the
month with the bills, and a great whining, and moan, and when the month
of taxes comes, I will decry the wrong and unfairness of it, and mourn,
with wine and ashtrays, and rend my receipts. And you shall remember
that I am that I am, before, after, and until you are twenty one. Hear
me then, and avoid me in my wrath, oh children of me.

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