by Marinka on May 24, 2012

This post first appeared on this blog in a slightly different form in 2008.  You probably weren’t even born then yet. I’ve learned to edit since then.

When I was pregnant for the first time, Mama and Papa were overjoyed. And by “overjoyed” I mean “insane”. They hovered over me. They made sure that I was what they considered comfortable. And  fed.  And hydrated. You know, all the things that people who are functioning in society are generally able to do for themselves. And they wanted to make sure nothing upset me.

Husbandrinka was traveling one week and Mama and Papa wanted to keep me company in case I needed their assistance in anything.  They came  over for a deluxe dinner of Chinese takeout. Somehow the conversation turned to one of their favorite topic- the obesity epidemic in America.

“Americans don’t understand hunger,” Papa announced.

“No, everything is too much here,” Mama chimed in. “Did you see the ‘small’ coffee? Huge. And the large? A whole family can drink that!”

“In Russia, we lived through a blockade,” Papa announced, referring to a time in the 1940s when the Germans surrounded Leningrad and would not let anything in, including food. Over a million people starved to death. My parents had not yet been born during this time, but their parents and grandparents lived through it and the memories haunted them. To this day, they are unable to throw out a crust of bread, so modern excesses offend them.

“People were starving,” Papa continued, as I reloaded my plate with Sweet and Sour chicken. “People ate cats and all dogs disappeared from Leningrad. Your aunt Julia-“

“Stop it!” Mama shouted. “Don’t you dare tell her that story!”
“What?” Papa was perplexed, “I’m just talking.”

“Yes, you’re talking. But you shouldn’t be talking to your pregnant daughter about this nonsense!”

“Nonsense?! It is a completely true story and part of our history. It is important.”

“Important? It’s upsetting and probably an exaggeration.”

“Hello!!” I waved a fork with broccoli in garlic sauce in front of them. “I’m still here! What about aunt Julia?” Who wasn’t really an aunt, but what am I a genealogical expert now?

“Don’t get upset,” Mama said in what she must have considered a soothing voice. “It’s nothing.”

”Nothing?” Papa was visibly disgusted. “Her father tried to eat her when she was born, and to you it’s nothing. Normal behavior. It’s a girl! I mean, dinner! That’s how desperate people were.”

“Are you insane?” Mama stopped speaking in a soothing voice. “Do you want her to go into labor right now? Look how you’re upsetting our Marinka. Her chewing has slowed down considerably.”

“Well, maybe she can deliver the dessert.” Papa threw down his napkin. Or maybe he didn’t throw it down, who the hell can remember. Really, I have no idea how people write dialogue.

“Don’t be upset,” Mama addressed me in a conspiratorial tone. “I don’t think that story is true.”

”WHAT?” Papa howled, “are you telling me that my Uncle Boris didn’t try to eat my cousin Julia and if it weren’t for my Aunt Sofia protecting her daughter, there would be no cousin Julia?” Apparently my father is not the type of man to have the family folklore of cannibalism snatched away from him without a struggle.

“I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” Mama said. “But I don’t think that we should upset Marinka like that.”

I’m sure it speaks volumes to my moral character that I wasn’t actually upset by that story. But to this day I can’t stand when people coo over babies and comment how “delicious” they are.

One year ago ...

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

CoftheU May 24, 2012 at 9:30 am

Although I was practically a toddler when I first read the Aunt Julia story way back in 2008 (I was a literary prodigy), I remember that post. It’s a great story and this is an excellent re-write.


Awesome Dude May 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

The adult Julia committed suicide when we were already here. It is a true story.


Marinka May 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

Oh no! Is she ok?!


Roshni May 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm

My dad also told us horrific stories about what people used to do to get food during WWII, but nothing can beat this one!


May 24, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I think the next time your teenager complains about how horrible she has it, you should yell back something like, “Well, at least I didn’t eat you when you were a baby – the way they did in the old country!”

I’m fairly certain that won’t elicit any eye-rolling.


May 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm

did you just go to a kids’ party with lots of ‘she’s so yummy’ involved?

“You don’t like cats? You just cant cook them right!”


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes May 25, 2012 at 7:02 am

As a citizen of the ‘old country’ I would like to confirm that we have abolished the baby-eating practice by law.
We have switched to rats.


Alexandra May 25, 2012 at 10:40 am

Oh, Marinka.

Why do I love you so much?

Becaue I had a shitty shitty morning at kid drop off where the b’s in town treated me like I was a ghost when I talked to them and then I come here and LAUGH OUT LOUD.


Tears in my eyes: I love you so much.

Oh, you’re great.


Anonymousmomma May 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

Ha! That’s so nasty but so funny! Love it. I’ve always thought it was weird people would call babies delicious. And now? Its even creepier


NDK May 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

“Her chewing has slowed down considerably.” HAHAHA

The word delicious kind of bugs me when not used in a reference to food. And I’m glad babies are not (usually) considered food.


mindy May 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Oh, Awesome Dude. You are so awesome, dude.


May 26, 2012 at 9:14 pm

What about ‘delicioso’? Is that still ok?


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