Why I’m Like This
I’ve been seeking to uncover the source of my dating dilemmas, debacles, distress, and discomfort. When my therapist first asked me why I break out in hives at the thought of dating, I had no answer.
I now know it involves zucchini squash.
After my ill-fated Mucinex Date, I made a personal rule to never again go on a blind date. I’d already vowed never to employ an internet dating site. Donna, my therapist, approved of those decisions. But when I said I was considering a ban on all dating, she grew a little alarmed and asked me to explore my feelings about dating. Oddly, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I would rather roll in a red ant pile than go on a date.
The other night as I was telling my parents about the conversation with Donna, my dad said, “It’s probably because of what happened with Roger.”
During my teenage years, we lived in a neighborhood comprised of six families who were either related to us or went to our church. The six families had purchased a large piece of land and divided it into five-acre lots. To build the roads and grade the lots for construction, everyone had gone in together to purchase a bulldozer and a dump truck.
Not long before I was old enough to date, the waste treatment plant in the country where we lived began processing human waste into pellets and offered the product free to anyone who was willing to come get it. The day before my date with Roger, my father took the neighborhood dump truck to the waste treatment plant and filled it with free fertilizer for his large garden. But when he got home with the load, the lift on the old dump truck refused to work. There was no way for him to spread it over the garden unless he shoveled it out by hand.
Then it started raining. It was the kind of rain we call a frog-choker in the South. Dad was forced to wait until the next day to ask our next-door neighbor, Swifty, to help him fix the lift. Swifty came over with a bandanna tied over his mouth and nose and managed to get the lift working. But by the time it was fixed, the pellets had completely dissolved, and the load came out in one massive pile.
Mind you, the stuff was sanitized. But sanitized shit smells just like the regular kind. On top of that, our lot was pie-shaped, so the garden was to the side of the house and not behind it, meaning the pile was perfectly visible from the street.
Mom laughed as she remembered what Roger said to her when she answered the door, “Mrs. Adams, it smells really bad out here. I think something is dead.”
Yeah, that would be my dating career.
Memory is a funny thing. Traumatic events from our early years can sometimes be repressed. My parents had to re-tell the entire story to me because I had forgotten most of it.
Before they reminded me, this is all I remembered: dad got a load of shit from the waste treatment plant and his garden produced so much zucchini squash that year we had it three meals a day in various forms (fried zucchini, steamed zucchini, zucchini parmesan, zucchini ratatouille, zucchini casserole, zucchini bread) the entire summer. I’ll bet my mom could double or nothing the website boasting 101 ways to cook zucchini.
And this: I remember thinking that summer if I never saw another zucchini squash in my life it would be too soon.
But now I know that the best way to solve a problem is to go to the source. If zucchini squash is responsible for my self-imposed dating ban, then maybe the solution is in exploring some alternative uses for the versatile vegetable.