Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lima Beans for My Birthday

My brother and I each have somewhat bizarre senses of humor, as anyone who knows either of us can attest. Anyone who knows both of us can tell you that putting us together results in a combined humor that is odder than the sum of its parts. But there are few out there who would fully understand how a bag of frozen lima beans had us both in tears laughing this weekend.

There are only two vegetables I will not, cannot, eat: brussel sprouts and lima beans. I know that they are good for me, packed with nutrients and antioxidants and vitamins and a bunch of other good things. Unfortunately, when Mother Nature packed all that healthiness into them, she found no room left to add things like flavor, enjoyable texture, or anti-gagging qualities. Any other vegetable you put in front of me, I'll eat happily. Asparagus, spinach, turnips, peas, corn, carrots, collard greens - all yummy in my book. Heck, I'll even eat okra and smile (I did live in the South for a while)!

My brother has considerably lower tolerance for vegetables than I, so lima beans are high on his "will not eat" list as well. In fact, this whole story begins with him sharing his dislike for the little green horrors with his in-laws, declaring them so vile that, at Christmas, he'd rather find a lump of coal in his stocking than lima beans! Sure enough, come Christmas day, his in-laws, who have become accustomed to his odd sense of humor over the years, delivered to him a Christmas stocking containing a bag of frozen lima beans.

After the merriment had subsided, he suddenly realized he was stuck with a bag of lima beans! He certainly didn't want them, his wife wouldn't eat them, his in-laws didn't want them back. Who in their right mind would? The things are atrocious! Over the next week or so, he asked friends and neighbors if they wanted the lima beans. Everyone responded the same way: "EWWWWW! YUCK!!!" Resigned to his fate as owner of the lima beans, he put them in his freezer, where they would still be had I not opened my big mouth.

Because my brother's birthday is Christmas Day and mine is January 6, and because our parents are divorced and Dad lives about an hour away, it has become tradition that we signal the end of the holiday season with a combined Christmas/New Year/both of our birthdays celebration with Dad. This year, it turns out that this holiday celebration was not the last of the festivities; a combined birthdays dinner with Mom will close out the holidays this time around. But, Sunday was Dad's day, and since I do not drive, my brother and his wife were going to be picking me up to head west to Dad's place.

The phone rang around 11:30 Sunday morning. "We're on our way to get you," my brother reported.

"Alright, I'm ready!" I replied.

"Do you want us to wait until our birthday dinner with Mom, or should we bring your birthday presents along today?" he asked.

Sensing an opening for one of our standard phone routines, I again replied, "Alright, I'm ready!" In fact, as chance had it, that phrase perfectly answered another question or two that he asked, so I declared "Alright, I'm ready," the most handy phrase imaginable; that it could be applied just about anytime.

"OK," he smirked, "how about if I bring you a bag of frozen lima beans?"

I paused for a moment, and then, not knowing that he actually HAD a bag frozen lima beans (Why would he? He hates them as much as I do!), I foolishly decided to call his bluff: "Alright, I'm ready!"

I should know better. I really should. When we were kids still living at home, there was the day he triumphantly marched into my room proudly carrying a shoebox containing somewhere around $35 in assorted coins and dollar bills. "This is all the money I've won off of you in the past year!" he grinned. As brothers often do, we'd bet on things - a quarter here, a dollar there, oh-come-on-double-or-nothing - but whereas the money I would occasionally win would be soon spent on baseball cards or candy or something, he won more often, and had been saving everything he won from me solely for the enjoyment of rubbing my face in it A YEAR LATER! This was no rookie I was dealing with.

I lost this bet, too. Amongst my birthday presents sat a bag of frozen lima beans.

As I picked it up and realized what it was, my brother just started laughing. What else could I do but laugh as well. Dad looked at both of us as though we were crazy, but once the story was explained, he had to laugh too.

So, the bag of lima beans now resides in my freezer, and I am resigned to be their keeper for the time being, until I can find either a willing recipient or an unwitting soul to pass them along to.

Any of you out there have birthdays coming up?

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