I sat at the table, the noisy talk of teachers acting much like regular people filled the restaurant. Bursts of laughter helped edge out the flickers of sadness at saying farewell to one among us. Hungrily, I surveyed my burger for the best possible first bite. Flavors melding, grease dripping, then suddenly – horror!
My face contorted as I tried to maintain some sort of decency (meaning I literally swallowed my impulse to spit the wretched mouthful into a nearby napkin). One hand over my mouth, I offered a full-mouthed explanation. “Mustard.”
A swig a Coke, followed by a few moments spent de- and then re-constructing my meal and I was ready to try again. A distant memory rose to the surface of my mind. There I was, at the kitchen table with my family – all fellow mustard-haters. The round face of my 4-year-old brother with his little blond mop came into focus. As we spooned potato salad onto our plates, and took turns fixing up our hot dogs, he timidly asked, “Um, Dad. Is it OK if I think I might like mustard?”
I sat at the table, the noisy talk of teachers filled the restaurant, and the acidic taste of the mustard still lingered on my tongue.