Our Mom was alone with us finky kids, our friends, and French exchange students during the summer. Our dad would come for two weeks, and then Mama would get a break from us: for one week our parents would go to a medical conference, the other week my dad would be a quiet and grounding presence in the house.
I have written about our summers in Maine and how we went swimming every afternoon barring lightning storms. One summer the weather was terrible, and our mom was getting desperate for activities. It was the summer of Taste Tests.
Fritos, Doritos, and potato chips would be set in bowls on the dining room table. Each bowl had a slip of paper with the brand of the contents under it. This wasn’t really necessary since the color of the flavorings gave the chips’ flavor away: BBQ, was a rusty red, Nacho Cheese was a brilliant orange, and French Onion had a warning yellow shade with green flecks.
We would sample and write our comments down on file cards. Of course, eventually, the careful tasting would degenerate to grabbing handful s of chips and stuffing them in our mouths like the Cookie Monster on Sesame Street.
The worst doldrums-busting activity was when Mama had everyone put their name in a hat. She drew a name and declared: “Now we will CUT the winner’s hair!”
“Only if you can catch me!” I howled.