I think all of us can think back to a time in our childhood where innocence was lost. I recall one such time in my young life when I was 11 years of age; the day Bambi came to dinner.
I grew up in a sort of "nomadic" existence. My dad always had some new job, or prospect, or idea that had us packing up and moving from one place to another; from the barren deserts of Arizona to the jungles of Guatemala.
When I was 10 we had relocated to the mountains above Palm Springs, California.
One thing I remember about this particular stage of my young life was how incredibly poor we were. Clothing was always obtained through other's cast-offs, my mother would shop for groceries at the local community pantry, purchasing bent cans without labels. A meal served with actual meat was a rare occasion.
So, imagine my surprise when I stepped off the bus one chilly afternoon and was greeted by the smell of a roast in the oven. Not just any, ordinary roast. But the biggest, juiciest, most beautiful roast my eyes had ever seen!
All these years later, I can remember the smiles on my parents faces as we shared that bountiful feast together.
All I could think about at school the next day was going home and having a nice roast beef sandwich, piled high on white bread with lots of butter, pepper, and salt. My mouth watered all the way home and once I was off the bus, I ran all the way to our little trailer.
I remember taking the roast out of the refrigerator and sneaking a little bite...and my heart sank...
the meat had already started to go bad. It tasted bad, the texture was oily and it smelled pungent. My hopes of that long-awaited treat were dashed and I reluctantly decided to throw the roast in the trash.
As I rounded the kitchen counter ready to slide that roast into the trash can, my mother started screaming from the hallway, "STOP" !!! She grabbed the opposite side of the platter with a half-crazed look in her eyes.
My mother and I wrestled for that platter; I was trying to dump it while she was trying desperately to save it.
No matter how much I tried to explain to my mother that the meat was rotten, she was determined to keep me from throwing it away. I thought my mother had lost her mind... the poverty had finally gotten to her.
I didn't realize how true that thought would ring once I had the low-down on that roast.
My mother explained that the day before, after I had boarded the school bus, a large buck had been hit out in front of our house. It was killed instantly, and thankfully, the driver of the truck had not been injured. But what to do with that deer? It couldn't be left out in the middle of the road...
The adults came to the only rational conclusion, dress it out and serve it up and call it dinner!
There are specific steps one must take when dressing out wild game; especially a buck. There are male scent pouches that must be undisturbed when field-dressing and I'm not entirely sure my parents knew how to do that. Or, perhaps, the venison was just a little more gamey when it was cold. One way or another, that meat did not sit well with me, most likely because of the psychologically traumatic fallout from my mother's explanation of the prior day's events.
I AM A LOVER OF BAMBI !!!
I had first seen Bambi when I was 8 years old and cried for HOURS when I realized his mother had been shot by those hunters. And here I sat with Bambi remnants digesting in my belly.... it's a moment of innocence lost that will stay with me forever. I had Bambi for dinner.
Now I know for some, venison is a perfectly normal option for dietary protein. But for me, it's something I just couldn't stomach. I've had several opportunities since that day to partake in meals of venison. I pass.
Now that I think of it, we had a lot of rabbits on that ranch...and we ate a lot of "chicken soup"
I wonder if Thumper joined Bambi in my not-so-innocent childhood dinners.
I think my mother has some explaining to do !!!