Summer BBQ scene. Folding chairs and tables are being brought to the yard on a hot July summer’s day; It’s Independence Day. The meat ordered for this grand affair is profound in its weight and sheer bass, sheer mass: Ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage, and chicken. Neighbors are bringing potato salad, macaroni salad, corn on the cob, and chips. From the early morning hours, when the first bird chirped at the hint on the dog, hint of the sun, I laid in bed with my eyes open, excitable and waiting. Excitable paralysis. I now hear Mother put on the radio, hear the buzz and static as she surfs for her station. She finds it, and the tinny noise finds me making sense of Pop music with horns, jubilantly playing out, affirming today will be good day.
Now the barbecue is in full swing and I am halfway into a juicy hamburger, watching a few friends do cannonballs in the pool. The radio is still on, Dad’s on the grill. Mother filling up everyone’s glass with crisp, cool lemonade. There are little choruses of ‘thank yous’ as she makes her way around, red checkered apron tied firmly around her waist. My cousin Marty sits down across from me and I hear him crunch loudly. “What’s that you’re eating?” I ask.
“Pickle,” he replies. Then looks at me strangely. “You’re never seen a pickle before?”
“Well, what is it?”
“It’s a cucumber, pickled in vinegar. You wouldn’t like it,” he says with another loud crunch.
“How would you know?” I ask, defensively.
Marty ignores the question. “That’s okay. More for me!” And with eyebrows raised, he finishes the pickle in one final crunch before jumping up from his chair and going inside the house.
Mad and determined, I turn toward the table filled with barbecue bounty and see the jar of pickles open. They look strange; The jar in greenish liquid, little bumps on the side. Maybe Marty is right. I wouldn’t like this. And while I’m grappling with this indecision of whether or not to get up and try it, I see more and more people start taking pickles to go with their meals, until there’s only one left. I have to try it, I say to myself. And moving my pool damp hair out of my eyes, I get up and before I know it I’m taking a big bite.