He was the smartest kid I knew. First, it seemed like he knew everything about anything; I believed his knowledge was infinite. Some days, when his parents would beg him to eat more than his usual yogurt, bread, and cheese diet, the gears in his brain began to turn and his mouth regurgitated ingenious reasons against their wishes, leaving them speechless. It seemed as though he became the parent while they transformed into his kids. At times like these, I would feel extremely awkward to the point where I could cut the tension with a knife.
Eventually, he became a better eater. My aunt did not have to worry as much about his health as she did when he was younger. He didn’t argue with his parents as much about what he should and should not eat. Alex finally grew some normal taste buds and started to eat meat, along with certain fruit and vegetables. I never thought I would see the day where he enjoyed a red, juicy steak. Of course, he took a liking to more fruits and veggies a while after his enjoyment for meat, just like any other kid.
One day, I saw a side to my cousin, Alex, that I never have before. After he became this major carnivorous eater, it seemed as though he developed an almost wild trend. The look in his eyes changed as the delectable aromas rose to his nose. The expression on his face gradually changed to excitement as his meal crept closer and closer to his already twitching-with-hunger fingers wrapped around his utensils. His posture perked up like a soldier being called to attention. It was like he was infatuated with the idea of eating food, and he could not contain his emotions internally.
And then he started humming.
It drove me nuts!
I had to jump hard on the ground with my head tilted to the side and make frustrated facial expressions in order for the sounds he made to exit my head. His humming created a feeling equivalent to the uncomfortable sensation of swimmer’s ear.
This infamous day happened to land on Thanksgiving. Every year, my Aunt Barb, who is Alex’s mom, hosted Thanksgiving at her humble abode, which resided in the King of Prussia area at the time. She utilized the whole day to cook, straighten up, and clean the whole house, especially the bathrooms (if anyone could count on something being clean, it would be the bathrooms). After the table was set with her fine china, the adults sat in the middle of the dining room at the incredibly long table that seemed to go on forever, while Alex and I sat in the corner of the room at the little plastic table with thick, yellow legs and a bright blue table top, along with two matching colored chairs. We also only got paper plates and cups with plastic utensil because we both had bad reputations of dropping expensive dishes.
She would create the most delicious cuisines, like her green bean casserole with those crunchy French’s French Fried Onions baked on top, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with an array of ingredients that made it taste exceptionally better than regular old mashed potatoes, and, of course, the traditional turkey.
My Aunt Barb would set aside a small plate for each side dish and the turkey to put on our table so we would not have to keep getting up, raising the chances of him and I making a mess. After Alex and I served ourselves a helping of everything, we began to feast.
As I was chewing my food, enjoying the moment of my first bite into my turkey, I noticed a weird humming noise coming from Alex’s direction. Thinking it was nothing I continued to eat. Again, the humming noise bothered my ears like a pestering knat flying around my ear. I couldn’t ignore it. I looked over toward Alex and saw him taking his next bite of his meat. This time I leaned toward his direction and listened closer, just to make sure I was not mistaken. Carefully observing his every move, I noticed it was he making those wretched sounds! Taking a closer look, I spotted him gazing at his food and nodding his head in approval. HE WAS TALKING TO HIS FOOD! I could not believe it! It was like he was telepathically whispering sweet nothings to his meal and thanking it for being so delicious. With each bite, his humming got louder to the point where I could not hear myself chew. Every rip and tear of his meat followed with a hum of accomplishment like “HHHUUUUAAAAAhhhhh!” With each bite he took, my anger toward his love-sounds for his food grew stronger. With each bite I took, my meal became less appealing because he was such a distraction to my enjoyment.
I had to stop eating.
At one point I stared at him, seeing if I could break his concentration so he would notice how much of a nuisance he was being, but he was too caught up in the love story being created at that very moment between him and his beloved turkey. Eventually, my aunt had to tell him to quiet down because it was interrupting the adult conversations. This love toward his food continued through the whole meal until he finished every last bite.
I never had the chance to finish that meal…
But wait, THERE’S MORE!
Dessert started to be transferred from the fridge to the tables, all looking like they were professionally prepared. Just when I thought his humming would stop, he proved me wrong.
As all the cakes, pastries, and Danishes were brought to the table, Alex asked his mom to cut him a big piece of the dark chocolate cake my mom prepared. I preferred the strawberry filled pastries my grandmother made; I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate. Alex picked up his fork, pierced through the multiple players of icing and cake, and brought it to his mouth. What do you know, he started humming again, only this time it was slightly different. It wasn’t as loud as the first. It seemed more delicate and subtle like a “hmmmmmmmuh.” It was still prominent to my ears because of the first experience still rumbling in my head like a bad dream, but it wasn’t as obnoxious. I came to the conclusion that he has a hum for every different type of meal. I didn’t want to be around to hear his breakfast hum. I would, for sure, wring his scrawny little neck because I’m not what you would call a “morning person.”
After that instance, I noticed his humming every time we got together. It didn’t matter if we were in public or in the safety of his home. Thinking about the feeling of embarrassment I experienced at every restaurant we went to leaves my stomach uneasy. His happy food hum lasted most of our childhood together. He finally grew out of this habit when we were about twelve years old. Recently, I decided to ask him, “Alex, why did you used to hum when you ate?” His reply was simply, “What are you talking about?”